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Andy Leverenz

March 5, 2024

Last updated March 6, 2024

Should you use Ruby on Rails in 2024?

It’s great to see a resurgence of the framework responsible for so much internet goodness related to SaaS and web applications. It inspired me to make a somewhat biased but fair round-up of reasons to consider Ruby on Rails in 2024.

This post's ultimate TL; DR is that now is as good a time as any to use Ruby on Rails. I’ve fallen in love with the framework and am here to present reasons that might make you consider adopting it in 2024.

Before we start, what the heck is Rails?

Maybe you’ve heard of it but never gave it the time to understand what exactly Ruby on Rails is. It’s okay if you’re not familiar. Let me give you a refresher.

Ruby on Rails is a popular web development framework that has gained significant traction for over a decade. Trends come and go, but Rails has been one of those frameworks that has stood the test of time.

Github, Airbnb, Shopify, and Basecamp use Rails. Those are massive apps doing massive things. So yes, Rails does scale.

If you are considering learning a new programming language or framework, you should know why many reach for Rails and how it has stood the test of time so well.

I’ll break things down by what I look for when choosing a stack. This might be biased, but I think it fills several gaps others strive to find.

10x developer productivity

One of the most significant advantages of using Ruby on Rails is its focus on developer productivity. Ruby on Rails follows the principle of Convention over Configuration, which provides sensible defaults and conventions that allow developers to focus on building their business and application logic instead of spending time on repetitive configuration tasks. This streamlines the development process and will enable developers to create applications quickly and efficiently.

Rapid prototyping

With Ruby on Rails, you can rapidly build prototypes and Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) in very little time. The fullstack framework provides a wide range of built-in features and libraries that enable developers to get up and running with their projects quickly. This allows you to iterate and experiment with your ideas faster, which is crucial in the early stages of a project.

Community and ecosystem

Ruby on Rails has a large and active community of developers constantly contributing to the framework. This means you can easily find resources, tutorials, and support when learning and working with Ruby on Rails. Additionally, numerous gems (libraries) can be easily integrated into your application, saving you time and effort.

Scalability

Unlike what you may have heard, Ruby on Rails is a scalable framework proven to handle high-traffic websites and applications.

The framework uses a model-view-controller (MVC) architecture, which helps separate your application's concerns and makes it easier to scale and maintain. Some of the biggest apps use and contribute to it, such as Shopify, GitHub, Airbnb, Coinbase, and more.

Ruby on Rails also offers support for caching, database sharding, load balancing, and other techniques that allow you to scale your application as your user base grows.

Most of the growing pains you might encounter have been thought out or considered.

Job opportunities

Learning Ruby on Rails can open up many job opportunities for you. Many startups and established companies use Ruby on Rails to build their web applications, and the demand for skilled Ruby on Rails developers is consistently high.

By learning Ruby on Rails, you can increase your marketability and make yourself a valuable asset in the job market.

While many more senior roles will probably have luck finding jobs, a new wave of interest in the framework could bring new junior roles to fruition. Time will tell here.

The AI wave makes us all wonder how secure our jobs are, and AI will set a higher bar. Getting a role will be possible, but you must adapt to the times and consider leaning into the AI shift ahead to increase your output and efficiency.

Cross-platform compatibility

Ruby on Rails supports multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. This means you can develop applications using Ruby on Rails and deploy them on various platforms, making it a versatile framework.

ActiveRecord ORM

Ruby on Rails includes ActiveRecord, an Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) tool. ActiveRecord simplifies database operations, allowing developers to work with databases quickly and efficiently. This saves time and effort when dealing with database-related tasks.

Built-in testing frameworks

Ruby on Rails has a built-in testing framework called Minitest, making writing and executing tests for your application easier. This allows you to ensure the quality and reliability of your code, leading to more robust and stable applications.

Straight-forward RESTful API development

Ruby on Rails makes it straightforward to build RESTful APIs, allowing you to expose your application's functionality to other applications and services. This is essential in today's interconnected world, where APIs power many integrations and collaborations between systems.

Ruby ❤️

Ruby, the programming language used by Ruby on Rails, prioritizes code readability and expressiveness. This means that the code written in Ruby is often easier to understand and maintain, reducing the learning curve and improving overall developer productivity.

Open-source community

Ruby on Rails is open source, meaning that the source code is freely available and can be modified and distributed by anyone. This fosters a vibrant and collaborative community where developers can contribute to the framework and learn from each other's code.

Agility and flexibility

Ruby on Rails emphasizes agile development practices like iterative and frequent releases. This allows you to quickly adapt to changing requirements and deliver value to your users faster. Additionally, Ruby on Rails provides flexibility by allowing developers to choose the components and libraries that best fit their needs.

Integration with front-end frameworks

Ruby on Rails can seamlessly integrate with popular front-end frameworks like React and Vue. This allows you to leverage the benefits of Ruby on Rails for backend development and the chosen front-end framework for building dynamic user interfaces.

The same is true for CSS frameworks. Adding Tailwind CSS, Bootstrap, or Bulma can be done by running a simple rake task designed to configure everything for you.

A Growing solution for more accessible UI design

Since finding Rails, I noticed UI was a minor focus. Being a product designer by trade, this was always an annoyance. The framework empowered me so much I found myself repeating UI patterns in a app and started to make a primitive starter kit much like everyone else these days lol.

As this issue kept popping up with each new idea or tutorial I made, I finally had enough and decided to create https://railsui.com, my new project focused on bringing professional UI design to Rails apps.

Rails UI stems from complaints from other developers about tools like Tailwind UI being more focused on front-end frameworks. Developers need to destruct complicated React or Vue components and translate them back into their apps.

This is like translating languages, which can get messy and is just no fun. Needless to say, that issue sparked the birth of Rails UI.

Rails UI is early in life but progressing well.

Think of it as professional themes and components directly integrated into your Rails app. You can choose a theme as a starting point and then unlock an arsenal of pre-styled components ready to use where you need them. The goal is to enable the not-so-design-savvy individual or developer to avoid getting trapped in the design phase.

Now that my shameless plug is over (sorry :)), I should mention other ideas around monetizing UI. Tools like Phlex and ViewComponent are many favorites in the space. They centralize design and interactive patterns, making the components' outcomes more predicable, scalable, and testable with a focus on writing Ruby rather than front-end code like HTML/ERB.

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