What is Ruby on Rails Used for?

Ruby on Rails, commonly known as Rails, is a robust web application framework written in the Ruby programming language. It was created by David Heinemeier Hansson and released in 2004. Rails follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern, which provides a structured approach to building web applications. 

Ruby on Rails is a popular web application framework that allows developers to build robust, scalable, and maintainable web applications quickly, thanks to its convention-based approach and the wealth of available libraries. Whether you're a seasoned developer or just starting, Rails can be a fantastic tool to bring your web projects to life!

So, what can you do with Ruby on Rails? Well, it's mainly used for developing web applications, whether simple websites or complex platforms. Rails come with many handy built-in tools and conventions, making it a favorite choice for developers aiming for productivity and efficiency.

Something notable about Ruby on Rails is its "convention over configuration" philosophy. It means that Rails assumes certain things about your application, and as long as you follow these conventions, you'll have to write less code and get things done faster. Less code and speed make getting a project up and running easy.

Rails also promotes "gems," which provide extra functionality to your application. With the vast collection of community-contributed "gems," you can easily add features like authentication, data visualization, or payment processing without reinventing the wheel.


Is Ruby on Rails front-end or back-end?

Ruby on Rails is primarily a back-end web application framework. It focuses on handling the server-side aspects of web development, managing the application's logic, data processing, and communication with databases. As mentioned earlier, Rails follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern, which separates the application's data, presentation, and user interface concerns.

However, while Rails is predominantly a back-end framework, it also provides some front-end capabilities. It allows developers to integrate front-end technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create dynamic and interactive user interfaces. Rails has built-in support for working with these front-end technologies, making it a full-stack web development framework.


How difficult is it to learn Ruby on Rails?

Learning Ruby on Rails can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, especially if you're already familiar with the Ruby programming language. Rails emphasizes developer productivity and follows the "convention over configuration" principle, which provides sensible defaults and reduces the code you need to write. The difficulty of learning Ruby on Rails depends on your background, preferences, and the specific projects you're working on. 

Compared to common languages like Python and Java, the difficulty of learning Ruby on Rails can vary depending on your prior programming experience and familiarity with the respective languages. Let's break it down:

  1. Ruby on Rails vs. Ruby: If you already know Ruby, diving into Rails will be relatively straightforward. Rails build on the Ruby language, so you'll find many familiar concepts. If you're new to Ruby, you should spend some time grasping the language first before jumping into Rails.
  2. Ruby on Rails vs. Python: Rails and Python's web frameworks, like Django or Flask, have their strengths. Rails has more built-in conventions and is well-suited for rapidly developing web applications. On the other hand, Python has a simpler and more versatile syntax, making it approachable for beginners.
  3. Ruby on Rails vs. Java: Java is a statically-typed language, requiring more code than Ruby's dynamically-typed nature. Rails, a framework built with developer productivity in mind, can generally lead to faster development than Java-based web frameworks. Java might have a steeper learning curve due to its verbosity.


What big tech companies use Ruby on Rails?

Several notable companies in the technology industry embrace Rails for building their web applications. Some of these companies include:

  1. GitHub: the popular code hosting platform, GitHub started as a Ruby on Rails application. It later expanded its tech stack, but Rails played a crucial role in its early development.
  2. Airbnb: Airbnb, the online marketplace for lodging and vacation rentals, used Ruby on Rails in its early stages to quickly build and iterate on its platform.
  3. Shopify: Shopify, the e-commerce platform, also started with Ruby on Rails and leveraged its rapid development capabilities to become a significant player in the e-commerce industry.
  4. Hulu: The video streaming service was initially built on Ruby on Rails, which helped the company scale and deliver content to millions of users.
  5. Basecamp: Basecamp, a project management and team collaboration tool, was created by the creator of Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson. It serves as an excellent showcase of what Rails can do.
  6. SoundCloud: SoundCloud, the popular audio distribution platform, used Ruby on Rails to build its initial versions and quickly gain traction in music-sharing.
  7. Twitch: In its early days, the live streaming platform Twitch utilized Ruby on Rails to establish its presence in the gaming and content creation community.
  8. Zendesk: Zendesk, the customer service and support software provider, adopted Ruby on Rails for its flexible and fast development capabilities.

While some of these companies have since expanded their tech stacks or introduced new technologies, their early adoption of Ruby on Rails highlights the framework's ability to kickstart projects quickly and efficiently, making it a preferred choice for startups and companies looking for agile development in the technology industry.


What are some advantages and disadvantages of using Ruby on Rails?


  1. Rapid Development: Ruby on Rails embraces the "convention over configuration" philosophy, providing sensible defaults and reducing the amount of boilerplate code. This philosophy accelerates the development process, allowing you to build web applications quickly.
  2. Developer-Friendly: Ruby, the programming language used in Rails, has a clear and expressive syntax. The syntax makes the codebase easy to read and maintain, increasing developer productivity and satisfaction.
  3. Rich Ecosystem: Rails has a vast collection of community-contributed gems (packages) that add extra functionality to your application. This extensive ecosystem allows you to leverage pre-built solutions, saving time and effort.
  4. Scalability: While Rails is well-suited for rapid development, it can also handle scalability. Many successful startups have started with Rails and scaled their applications to meet increasing demands.
  5. Active Community: Ruby on Rails has a vibrant and active community of developers, which means you can find plenty of tutorials, resources, and support to help you along your development journey.


  1. Performance: While Rails is efficient for many applications, there may be better choices for highly-traffic, performance-critical applications. The framework's convention-based approach can sometimes lead to performance bottlenecks.
  2. Learning Curve: If you're new to Ruby or web development, the learning curve for Ruby on Rails can be steeper than other frameworks. Understanding the framework's conventions and best practices might take some time.
  3. Maintenance: As an application grows, maintaining the codebase might become challenging. With proper architecture and organization, Rails applications can become easier to keep in the long run.
  4. Limited Flexibility: While Rails' conventions can be a boon for productivity, they might limit the flexibility for specific projects with unique requirements. Deviating from the conventions may lead to more complexity.
  5. Scalability Challenges: While Rails can handle scalability for many applications, extremely high-scale projects might face challenges as the application grows. Proper optimization and architecture planning are essential.


Ruby on Rails offers many advantages in rapid development, developer-friendliness, and a rich ecosystem. However, there might be better fits for some projects, especially regarding performance-critical applications or those with particular requirements. Weighing the pros and cons will help you determine if Ruby on Rails is the right choice for your web development needs.


Start with: What problem are you trying to solve? 

One of the activities we work through revolves around refining your problem statement. A problem statement is the key business problem that needs to be solved. In software development, it states “what has to be done” for a project to succeed. It does not say, “how it has to be done.”

We use the 5W’s + 1 H format as well as the SMART Framework when establishing a problem statement. In fact, you can draft your own problem statement by using our free download. This download will get you thinking through some of the questions and answers prior to starting your project.

Download: Problem Statement
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