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Wed, Aug. 27th, 2008, 03:21 pm
finefinemusic: Book recommendations?

Hello everyone. I've been out of the coding/designing scene for a few years and looking to get back into it. Previously I worked with a lot of PHP, and a friend suggested I check out Ruby. I find I learn a lot better out of a book than a webpage, so I am here to ask if anyone's got a recommendation for any particular book? There are a lot marked five stars on Amazon. I've had __ for Dummies books and a few PHP books, but the authors I liked have not written any Rails books :)

I appreciate any suggestions you can offer and look forward to jumping in!

Wed, Aug. 27th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)

I used these books:
Programming Ruby
Agile Web Development with Rails
Rails Recipes

However, they were the only books out at the time. I still recommend Programming Ruby to get familiar with the language before starting a Rails book, but the other two I think are based on Rails 1.x. Rails 2.x has been around for some time. On Amazon, you should probably stick to books that cover Rails 2.x since they introduced many new "best practices". The good and bad thing about Rails is that it is very opinionated about how things should be done. If you go along with Rails, life is very nice and very easy. If you fight against it, you could be in for a lot of pain.

Rails is still being actively developed and changes quicker than people can publish books, so once you're done whatever Rails book you pick and know the basics, learning how to read http://api.rubyonrails.com/ is in your best interest. The API documentation is the definitive reference for the current stable release and isn't that bad to read once you have an understanding of how Rails works.

Wed, Aug. 27th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)

oh yeah, I definitely understand how quickly things change in the web world! I just wanted something basic I could start with in a physical form - easier for me to keep a book open on my lap than click through tabs looking for info. Plus I can read it on the bus!

Thanks very much for your help and suggestions, I look forward to learning how Rails works. As it is now I am hesitant even in my vocabulary use of "Ruby" vs "Rails" and better go read a "What is Ruby anyway?" page to get myself started. ;)

Wed, Aug. 27th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)

Ruby is simply a programming language. A really powerful and flexible one.
Rails is a web framework on top of that programming language.

If you can get a well-reviewed Rails 2.x book, you're probably OK starting there rather than with a Ruby book, since the Rails books cover enough Ruby to get you started. But it's still important to get the Ruby book after you get started.

And things change much faster in the Ruby and Rails world(s) than in the rest of the web world, so hold on tight!

Thu, Aug. 28th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)

Best two books you should get:

The Rails Way, by Obie Fernandez
The Ruby Programming Language, by "Matz" ... who happen to be the guy who wrote the Ruby language.

I have Agile Web Development with Rails, 2nd Ed. It is already outdated, and does not contain nearly as much information as The Rails Way. Furthermore, some people may suggest you getting the Pragmatic Programmer's Programming Ruby book ... don't. Both books were good when they came out, but now there are much better books out there. And yeah, I have all of these books and have worked through them. These days, I use The Rails Way and The Ruby Programming Language

However, one additional book you will want to consider getting -- and this one is indeed from Pragmatic Publisher:

Pragmatic Version Control Using Git

... as you will need some familiarity with it if you want to get the most out of Rails (considering all the different plugins that are available).

Lastly, if you are a visual person (and even if you are not), it is worth checking out http://peepcode.com and http://railscast.com ... The latter is free, and is a place you should go next after mastering Rails and Ruby basics.


Thu, Aug. 28th, 2008 02:55 am (UTC)

Seconding Rails Way, Railscasts and Peepcode.

Fri, Aug. 29th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)


railscast.com is a domain squatter page. :)

Have you read the pragmatic git book? I've recently switched from subversion to git for some of my projects, relying entirely on online documentation, but I'm still having a bit of a time getting used to the differences in workflows.

Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)


Sadly, no I have not read the Pragmatic Programmer's Git book. I do know how to use git fairly well. Maybe this will help:


I've also set aliases on my .gitconfig, for example, aliased git co to git checkout since I was used to doing svn co.

You could also try http://www.gitcasts.com/

If there's anything specific, maybe I can help.