Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Best Ruby On Rails Books

This is a big Frequently Asked Question, so here's my answer:

1. Agile Web Development with Rails
2. Ruby for Rails
3. The Ruby Way

If you're a newbie, start with 1 and go to 3. If you're an experienced programmer, start with 3 and go to 1.

If you're a newbie, read Ruby for Rails at least three times. If you're an experienced programmer, read the last five chapters at least twice.

I'm assuming, of course, that you want to be good at what you do.

Here's why these are the books that'll get you there.

Agile Web Dev will give you the Rails overview; The Ruby Way will teach you how to program Ruby; Ruby for Rails is where these two things meet. That's why it's in the middle whether you have experience or not. If you're experienced you'll want to understand how to think in Ruby, and how Rails is an extension of that. If you're a newbie you'll want to build something just to build it, and then learn how you should have done it.

Other popular books include Programming Ruby (the pickaxe book), O'Reilly's Ruby Cookbook, and why's Poignant Guide. why's book is insane, but that's a good thing. The Ruby Cookbook is good, but a bit predictable. O'Reilly only issued it after the Rails bandwagon started picking up steam. I think there are a couple other books from O'Reilly as well. They're probably good. O'Reilly has pretty dependable standards of quality, although they have started slipping a bit now and then. Programming Ruby is popular but I wasn't into it. The same authors wrote The Pragmatic Programmer, which is much better. Every programmer should read that.


  1. Ya, but don't buy the "Adobe Reader" copy of the 2nd edition of the Ruby Way, off of the publishers site, unless you realize what you are doing. That doesn't mean it's a pdf - know it's a Adobe ebook that will require a couple downloads and reading your book in some crappy Flash interface (and seems to re-download at least part of t the book everytime you open it). And there will be know help page explaining why when you click the download link you get a weird formatted text-file (it points to the online copy, if you have the right reader installed).

    Definitely not a friendly experience for readers used to easily downloading a pdf and reading it in Preview.

  2. Good choice of books, especially Nr. 3 (The Ruby way).

    It's not that well-known, but essential if you want to really understand how Ruby works and why it is the way it is.

    Before reading it, I often wrote code that conformed to Ruby syntax, but worked like code written in Java. The Ruby way will help you to really make use of the good stuff in Ruby.

    I'd pick up "Programming Ruby" from the Pragmatic programmers,too - not such a great book to learn the language, but the refernce part is really useful.

  3. I am new to Ruby and at present I am reading the first book the Agile one. I will then follow the other books as suggested by you. But don't you think that "Beginning Ruby From Novice to Professional" should also be included in your list. I am reading this currently and I think its very good book for starters.

  4. kind of funny

    I requested two ruby books from the libary without consulting your list and they were two of the ones you mentioned.


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