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Ruby for Rails
by David A. Black

Manning Publications
1 edition
May 2006
532 pages

Reviewed by Ernest Friedman-Hill, June 2006
  (9 of 10)

Ruby is a dynamic programming language with a growing following. Rails is a Web application framework for Ruby. This book starts from the premise that many smart developers are adopting Rails with minimal prior knowledge of Ruby, and that those developers need to learn Ruby, fast!

It turns out that this is a great premise for a book. In 17 focused chapters, the reader learns everything she'll need to know to get the most out of Rails. Topics that won't be used (for example, GUI toolkits) aren't covered here. Instead the author concentrates on Ruby language features, programming idioms, and libraries that are common to all Rails applications.

The first chapter is a gem. It explains in detail where to get Ruby, how to install it, run it, debug it, and extend it, how to maintain an installation, how it's documented, and introduces the language syntax, all in two dozen pages. Much of this is treated as advanced material by other Ruby books, but every Ruby developer worth their salt needs to know it all.

Chapter 2 does something similar for Rails, helping you to understand how the pieces fit together. Later chapters concentrate on the Ruby language, and then on Rails again, always with an eye for optimal ways to use these technologies together.

Whether you're new to Ruby and Rails or just need to learn how to get the most out of this powerful combination, this book is a winner.

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