“I Don’t Speak Your Language” is a series of articles designed to give you a quick overview of all of the tech terms in our industry. Knowing these terms will help you in your communications and allow you to build better products more efficiently.
Rails, or Ruby on Rails, is a popular and fast framework for building web applications.
For the history on Rails you first have to talk about its backbone, Ruby. Ruby is a programming language much like PHP that allows you to tell a computer what to do, store data on a server, or even build an interactive website.
Rails takes Ruby up a notch and allows you to build applications in a much shorter timeframe. Rails applications, or web apps, are merely a fancy way of saying a website that is capable of eCommerce, uploading pictures, or creating blog posts.
Where Rails is valuable is in the pre-built code bases & gems that allow you create login capabilities, status updates, profile pages and much more with just a few keystrokes.
For example, our very own Jason and Jim were able to create a simple version of Facebook in only a handful of videos. That is something you could never do starting from scratch in Ruby.
Another aspect of Rails that most people find extremely valuable is the excited and socially viable community of developers surrounding it. Rarely have I seen such a responsive and willing-to-help community as the one built around Rails.
Rails was created by David Heinemeier Hansson (or “dhh” as he’s know in the programming world) of 37signals fame. When he met Jason Fried they were discussing PHP, but since then dhh built Ruby on Rails and their famous app Basecamp is now built solely on Rails.
The community has run with Rails and everyday someone is creating a new tool for you to use in building your new apps.
So whether you are an expert or non-expert, learning Rails is an effective way to build great apps like Twitter, Hulu, or Groupon, but to be able to build them quickly enough to prototype without wasting gobs of time or money.