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Ruby on Rails Enterprise Application Development

Building a complete Ruby on Rails business application from start to finish

Author: Elliot Smith, Rob Nichols, Published on 21-Oct-2007, Language: English


Chapter 1 provides an overview of the book. You will learn why Ruby on Rails should be used in preference to the multitude of other programming and scripting frameworks for developing database-driven web applications.

Chapter 2, you will learn about some of the conventions used in Rails, and the Rails framework will be introduced. We describe some methods of controlling and logging user access and discuss their merits and limitations. We also discuss data validation and user input control via form design in this chapter.

Chapter 3 outlines how to lay some firm foundations for a sustainable Rails development project. The core of this is obviously the Rails stack itself. You will learn how to install and configure this in some detail. The chapter recommends a few of the technologies closest to the heart of Rails, which can readily be used to support your development work.

Chapter 4 will help you build from an idea and an expectant Rails installation to a fully-fledged data model, populated from an external data source, with full validation and unit test suite. This chapter also provides examples of how to integrate the application with external data sources, and how to share code development across a team.

Chapter 5 describes how to build a web interface on top of the models developed earlier. You will learn about creating a controller from scratch, how to add style sheets, writing complex controller actions to update multiple models simultaneously, and using pagination.

Chapter 6 describes how to set up a Rails production environment. In particular, it covers the decisions you will need to make to successfully get your business application up and running. Some coverage of error handling is presented, and we describe some systems that will make it easier to back up and restore your application.

Chapter 7 concentrates on the tools you can use to improve the user experience. These include providing links into the application, providing search tools, enhancements to the user interface, and providing help to the users.

Chapter 8 aims at showing more of the depth and usefulness of Rails, while at the same time demonstrating how to extend an existing application with new functionality.

Chapter 9 discusses advanced deployment of your application. You will learn how to deploy your application with Capistrano. You will also learn about troubleshooting deployment and optimizing your Rails applications.

Chapter 10 covers how you can improve your Rails skills further, and suggests alternative skills that complement Ruby on Rails, thereby broadening your skill set.


All businesses have processes that can be automated via computer applications, thereby reducing costs and simplifying everyday operations. This book demonstrates that a modern web application framework makes an ideal platform for such applications. It shows how the attributes that make the Rails framework so successful for Internet applications also provide great benefit within a business intranet. These attributes include easy roll-out and update of applications, centralized processing and data handling, simple maintenance, straightforward code development, and scalability.

Ruby on Rails is an open-source web application framework ideally suited to building business applications, accelerating and simplifying the creation of database-driven websites. Often shortened to Rails or RoR, it provides a stack of tools to rapidly build web applications based on the Model-View-Controller design pattern.

This book covers topics such as installing Ruby, Rubygems, and Rails on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X; choosing and installing a database; installing an IDE for Rails development; setting up a Subversion repository to manage your code; creating a new Rails application; understanding Rails models; understanding controllers and views; improving user interfaces with Ajax; using Rails plugins to manage file uploads; using Capistrano to manage application deployment; techniques for scaling Rails applications, such as caching and using Apache to proxy through to the Mongrel server. The example application is straightforward to develop, easy to roll out, and simple to maintain.


  • Create a non-trivial, business-focused Rails application
  • Solve the real-world problems of developing and deploying Rails applications in a business environment
  • Apply the principles behind Rails development to practical real-world situations

What Will I Get ?

  • Creating a new Rails application
  • Installing an IDE for Rails
  • Connecting Rails to a database
  • Utilizing Rails' Model-View-Controller components
  • Setting up Mongrel with Apache
  • Adding Ajax to your Rails application
  • Backing up Rails applications
  • Adding an authentication system to your application
  • Optimizing Rails applications using caching
  • Scaling up your Rails production infrastructure using Apache, Mongrel, and load balancing

Elliot Smith

Elliot Smith has worked in IT since 1996: at OpenAdvantage (an open-source solutions center) as a business analyst, as a learning technologist and web developer at the University of Birmingham, England, and as a technical writer for Armada Computer Publications. He runs his own training and consulting company, mooch labs, when he gets a chance. He has an M.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Birmingham.

Rob Nichols

Rob Nichols first started using computers during his apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce in the early 1980s. At 23, he decided to change direction and started a degree in Geology and Geography at Cardiff University. By 1995 he had gained a Ph.D. from Bristol University, studying the behavior of quicksand. During his time in Bristol and in a subsequent lectureship at Leeds University, he started using the fledgling Internet to communicate with co-workers, gather information, and present Geological information in the form of his first web pages. Following his return to Britain from a lectureship in U.S.P. Fiji, Rob found himself without another lectureship position to go on to. So, changing direction again, he started working for a U.K. computer manufacturer, where he rose to the position of Engineering Manager, managing a team of seventy maintenance and networking engineers, and support staff. Following the collapse of the U.K. computer market in 2002 he moved on to the role of IT manager for a small business providing products and services to the water industry. In this role, Rob has had great success developing intranet-based business applications that streamlined business processes, saved time, and increased efficiency. In doing so, he transformed the IT department from a business cost to a profit generator by reducing costs and thereby increasing margins. When not working with computers, Rob and his wife reside happily in a small Midlands town in England, where he writes scripts for the local movie-makers club and photographs the local wildlife.