Pros and Cons of Ruby on Rails

Pros and Cons of Ruby on Rails

There are some things that never change, but only get better with time. Well, this is what Ruby on Rails is. Truly, one of the classics.

Some start-uppers like to choose hype languages and frameworks, just because everyone talks about them. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are convenient to use or sufficiently flexible.

If you happen to be a newbie to programming languages or want to know what Ruby on Rails has to offer, then welcome!

Short History of Ruby on Rails

Ruby, the programming language, was named after a valuable gemstone by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto in 1995.

Ruby or Rails was launched in 2004 and immediately caught public attention. The success and popularity lasted for more than three years. Today Ruby on Rails has become the framework of choice for Ruby.

After RoR was launched, everyone was so amazed by this framework that they started to copy the principle in their frameworks, for example, Python and PHP.

What is Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails, also known as RoR and Rails is a web framework that is one of the most popular tools in web development. Just like most application frameworks, RoR was built with the Ruby programming language for a specific task its creator had during his work in a web application development company.

Rails was the first framework of its kind. It operates on the MVC (Model-View-Controller) principle:

  • Model is responsible for relationships between objects and the database.
  • View is templates (commonly made up of a blend of HTML and Ruby code) that are utilized to build the data users of web applications
  • Controller binds together models and view

Pros and Cons of Ruby on Rails

Like any other framework, RoR has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with something positive, shall we?

Advantages of Ruby on Rails

Pro #1: Strong adherence to standards

The first and main advantage is strong support of web standards in every part of an application, from the user interface to data transfer.

Applications that are made with Ruby on Rails are expected to follow established software design paradigms, such as “coding by convention” (developer needs to specify the app features that are unconventional), “don’t repeat yourself” (encouragement to avoid code duplication and to create abstractions instead) and “active record pattern” (a specific way of accessing data in the database).

So why are all of these considered to be such an advantage for RoR?

Well, there are multiple reasons:

  • First of all, it makes the language much easier for novices to learn and much more enjoyable for professionals to use.
  • Secondly, it leads to better code readability, which is great both for cooperation among developers and for large projects overall.
  • Finally, it minimizes the amount of code you need to write to implement a feature.

Pro #2: Huge and active community

Source: builtwith

According to this chart, around 10% of the 10,000 most popular websites in the world use Ruby on Rails (Ruby on Rails Token is just one of the ways to detect the usage of RoR). This places it in the top 3 most used web development tools.

Furthermore, there is a huge community of RoR developers on GitHub. And, it is really active – there are many snippets of software with specific functions. You can easily use these snippets, better known as “gems”, as a basis for your own project – so you can focus on more difficult tasks. In addition, this means that you can always ask for help if you’re just getting started.

Pro #3: A great number of helpful tools and libraries

As was mentioned above, there are hundreds of different helpful community-created “gems” and libraries that you can use as a part of your own software. However, you can find even more helpful tools among them. They influence not the content of your code, but your software design experience as a whole. Some of them can help you with debugging, some are a great help with optimization, and some are related to the testing stage of your work.

Pro #4: Time efficiency

Although it is relatively easy to learn the basics of this framework, it will take some time for you to unlock its true potential. However, if you’re ready to invest some time in this, you will definitely be amazed at how fast and effective you’ve become.

Furthermore, the previous point heavily reinforces this one. There are hundreds of tools that can both accelerate and simplify your overall coding experience, as well as spare your time from simple, yet time-consuming tasks.

Basically, this means that you can make more money in the same amount of time. That’s probably why there are so many schools, online and offline courses that are dedicated to Ruby on Rails. This also means that the community is getting even bigger – which means there will be even more efficient and helpful tools! Yay!

Disadvantages of Ruby on Rails

Of course, just as with any other programming language or framework, there are some negative aspects to RoR, and pitfalls that you can fall into during the development process.

So, here are some of the drawbacks of using Ruby on Rails:

Con #1: Shortage of flexibility

When it comes to basic tasks and features, RoR is almost unchallenged. However, because there is a lot of default, set objects, there is not a lot of room for creativity. So, before you make your decision about the framework you want to use for a particular project, you need to think about its basic elements and whether they are standard or more unique.

Con #2: Continuous evolvement

It is hard to say where you should put this point in the list of pros and cons of Ruby on Rails and Ruby language. Obviously, when something changes for the better, it’s great, and it’s a natural process, especially for a language with such a big and vocal community. However, it is something that can be very difficult to adjust to, especially for newcomers and beginners.

In addition, the overwhelming changes happen not only to the framework itself but to the tools and libraries developed by the community. Not only do they improve and add new features but new ones are constantly being created. You definitely need to be a part of the community to be up-to-date on everything all the time.

Con #3: Performance time

This con of RoR is always debated and it is a subject for discussion and comparison with other web application frameworks. The boot time of the framework is quite long, especially when you work with a massive project, but does it also concern the runtime speed? Well, a lot of developers would argue that this is not the case for apps with proper optimization.

However, if you compare the waiting time with other frameworks such as Node.js, you will definitely see the difference. However, this difference is not that significant – it can definitely be overlooked due to all the great stuff Rails has to offer.

Con #4: Price of a mistake

If you’re able to be thorough and pay attention to all the small details during the development, Ruby on Rails will definitely be your helpful friend. However, if you make a tiny mistake or a wrong judgment during the beginning of the development, it could turn into your worst enemy.

It can slow down your whole application significantly, cause problems with the connection between different parts of your software, and lead to unintended consequences. So, while working with Rails, you should be careful and attentive.

Who uses Ruby on Rails?

Often corporations with professional analysts make good decisions about the tools they use for their projects. This is why such tools often get an indisputable reputation for being solid and reliable.

Ruby on Rails has definitely earned such a reputation as there are a lot of really massive projects that still use it.

Which companies use Ruby on Rails?

  • Twitch
  • GitHub
  • Airbnb
  • Shopify
  • Bloomberg
  • Etsy

Uses of Ruby on Rails: Rails is also perfect for creating prototypes, MVPs and small and medium websites. It is very popular in the start-up community – there are dozens of new and exciting projects that are being developed right now!

Conclusion

All in all, just like any other programming language or framework, Ruby on Rails has its own shortcomings and limitations. However, it is made for a specific task, and it works marvellously for the job it was built for.

The main reason for creating the Ruby language was to help programmers and to make their job more fun and enjoyable. That principle has clearly been passed on to Ruby on Rails.

If you’re building a start-up, then Ruby on Rails is perfect for you! If you think that all the pros of RoR, including sticking to the standards – a responsive community and amazing production speed – outweigh the cons such as performance, lack of flexibility and a high price for mistakes, try Ruby on Rails right now. You won’t regret it!

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Alex Morgunov

Alex Morgunov

Project Lead

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