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Rails is a framework for building websites. As such, Rails establishes conventions for easier collaboration and maintenance. These conventions are codified as the Rails API (the application programming interface, or directives that control the code).
Rails is rapid development model, which depends upon convention, not configuration. If you learn to do things the way Rails expects you to do them, it will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. This applies to a wide variety of development tasks, and as long as you keep yourself from trying to micromanage Rails, you can work very quickly in it.
Ruby is known for an uncluttered syntax that doesn’t require a lot of extra punctuation. Compared to Java, Ruby is streamlined, with less code required to create basic structures such as data fields. Ruby is a modern language that makes it easy to use high-level abstractions such as metaprogramming. In particular, metaprogramming makes it easy to develop a “domain specific language” that customizes Ruby for a particular set of uses (Rails and many gems use this “DSL” capability).
Ruby’s key advantage is RubyGems, the package manager that makes it easy to create and share software libraries (gems) that extend Ruby. RubyGems provides a simple system to install gems. Anyone can upload a gem to the central RubyGems website, making the gem immediately available for installation by anyone. The RubyGems website is where you’ll obtain the most recent version of Rails. And it is where you will obtain all the gems that help you build complex websites.
Rails (and Ruby) are not just “open source”, they have a thriving, helpful community around them. Although the magic of open source is often overstated, the reality of Ruby on Rails is close to the ideal, which is great for novice developers.
Ruby has some disadvantages. Its processing performance is slow relative to C++ or Java. However, the execution speed of a language may be unimportant when relative to the benefits gained by developer productivity, and the general level of performance required by most websites. For websites that require lots of simultaneous activity, Ruby is not well-suited to the sophisticated software engineering required to execute simultaneous activity efficiently (standard Ruby lacks “parallelism”). Lastly, some complain that Ruby hides complex operations behind simple directives and are not easily modified. These concerns haven’t stopped Rails from becoming a popular web development platform.
The set of technologies or software libraries that are used to develop an application or deliver web pages is called a technology “stack.” Rails, as a web development framework, and Ruby, as a programming language, can be used with a choice of operating systems (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows), databases (SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and others), and web servers (Apache, Nginx, and others).
The Rails developers at delaPlex are highly experienced with creating custom web applications that automate and improve business processes. They are full-stack developers who can deliver a complete product from start to finish individually, or alongside your in-house team.