Why Use Ruby on Rails and When It’s Better For Your Project

Sometimes our clients are interested in what technologies we’ll use to build their web application projects. If we choose Ruby on Rails (RoR), we spend some time explaining why. After all, there are other popular frameworks and languages for back-end web development like Python, Java, or PHP. So why use RoR? There are always multiple reasons for this decision, the main one being that often it’s a better choice than any other tool. We have been making products with Ruby on Rails since 2006 and are ranked as Top Ruby on Rails Developers by Clutch.co, which we take pride in considering Ruby on Rails development is our strong suit.

What is Ruby on Rails?

Ruby is a general-purpose, dynamic, interpreted language for object-oriented programming. It’s so human-like and resembles English, that the code written in Ruby can be understood to some extent even by a person who doesn’t know how to program.

However, creating new software using only Ruby is a tedious job. That is why a special tool was created to optimize the development process — Rails.

Rails is a web development framework written in the Ruby language. It’s created to make programming web apps easier, helping to create websites of any complexity.

What is Ruby on Rails used for and why it’s so popular

The main goal of Ruby is to quickly create new high-performance projects. However, there’s really no definite answer as to what Ruby is used for, since, like any general-purpose programming language, it’s suitable for a wide range of programming tasks. Each programming language, each technology stack is designed to solve some problems. So depending on the purpose, RoR might or might not be the right choice for your web project (but rather yes than no). 

What types of projects Ruby on Rails is best for:

  • Online stores with sophisticated options.
  • Informational portals.
  • Stock exchange platforms.
  • Dating websites and ad platforms.
  • Social networks.
  • Non-standard complex projects.
  • SaaS-solutions.

As for RoR’s popularity, even despite the considerable growth of Node.js (an open-source cross-platform JavaScript environment) recently, Ruby on Rails is a very popular framework. Thanks to the simplicity of prototyping, Rails is used by startups, non-profit projects, and top-tier companies alike. Ruby is the 13th most popular language in the TIOBE index (it shows how popular a certain programming language is, based on the SERP results). 

Ruby on Rails services

The number of websites created using Ruby on Rails is almost 550K worldwide, and this number is growing. 

Ruby on Rails advantages

Ruby on Rails statistics by BuiltWith

RoR is also strongly developer-oriented and is well-liked by developers.

What companies use Ruby on Rails

RoR is a preferred technology for startups, though it has also attracted many top-tiers. Projects such as Basecamp, Airbnb, Shopify, Goodreads, Kickstarter, Hulu, and others have been build with the use of RoR.

What is Ruby on Rails used for

Rails Logs with Datadog Hero by Nathan Manire

So why use Ruby on Rails and why did these companies decide to use RoR for the development of their web projects?

Advantages of Ruby on Rails from the business perspective

Speed

Ruby is clear, simple, logical, and has a leaner code-base (allowing for fewer lines of redundant code) resulting in accelerated development speed. It helps developers to save time while coding and focus on providing better solutions. Simply because less amount of code means less time spent on writing it while the functionality remains the same. 

Cost-effectiveness

Development time is the customer’s money. The more time development takes, the more expensive it is. Because of the speed with which Rails websites can be built and modified, less money is spent to create and maintain them. Taking into account that the application is properly designed and the development process is set correctly.

What’s more, Ruby on Rails is open-source which means the absence of licensing costs. 

Flexibility

The Rails framework is very flexible and allows to adapt websites to various updates related to the innovations in the business processes. It is an incredibly expressive and flexible language that makes it possible to solve the same problem in many ways, giving developers a lot of freedom and opportunities to find the best-suited solution for a project.

RoR is easily supported by different developers

Ruby code is readable and largely self-documenting. Spared of the need to write more documentation than they absolutely have to, developers can take the already existing projects almost on the go. Moreover, more than 90% of Ruby web applications written use Rails. It means that RoR provides all sorts of integration to meet the requirement of the project.

Each project is well structured, so a new developer will quickly get the project details from day one. It means less downtime for business in case there is a need to find another Ruby on Rails developer for an existing project or hire new ones in order to expand it. If one team starts a project for the other to end it, it’s also not a problem at all. 

Massive resources and community

There’s a large number of ready-made Ruby on Rails solutions in the public domain, the larger number of which have already been tested by someone else, which reduces the need to develop something from square one.

The large and friendly community where Ruby on Rails developers help each other, announce new projects, and discuss everything related to the framework, is not only useful for coders but is beneficial for business. In case of difficulties, it helps to find the best solutions to solve your problems. The Ruby community is proud of the number of ready-to-use code packages called “gems” provided by the developers themselves. As of now, there are 160,214 gems that any Ruby developer can use to make your app better.

Scalability

For long, Ruby on Rails was known for its scalability problems, and not without reason. For instance, the performance of the same programs written in Java and in RoR can be very different, especially considering the high Java’s efficiency concerning multi-threaded applications. However, Rails 6 released last year has resolved the majority of Rails scalability issues. Rails 6 is considered scalable by default. 

Some of the RoR apps that we’ve been developing recently are able to launch multiple instances of the same code (including on different servers) and work just fine. This is concerning horizontal scalability (when you scale by adding more machines into your pool of resources). Things are different with vertical scalability (when you scale by adding more power to an existing machine). However, that’s not so much of a problem, as you shouldn’t get carried away with it at all or it’ll come out too expensive because of server cost.

Scalability is another aspect that mainly depends not on the framework but on the architecture of the application.

High data protection

News about various resources being hacked gets published every other day. Just recently, Nintendo stated that up to date, a grand total of 300,000 user accounts have been hacked. Cybersecurity is our daily concern, both personally and professionally. 

Teams responsible for developing the Rails framework invested a great deal of thought on its data protection capabilities. Among other things, RoR contains password and credit card data encryption. Special measures are taken to prevent SQL injection and XSS attacks.

High reliability and maintainability

The stability aspect is extremely important for every business. Ruby on Rails development usually uses the TDD (test-driven development) approach, and the toolkit supports extensive testing capabilities. It means that solutions created with Ruby on Rails are stable and maintainable. The framework itself is also covered by automatic tests, which makes it reliable. 

Disadvantages of Ruby on Rails and how to deal with them

Performance issues

Rails’ runtime speeds results are indeed slower than some of other languages and frameworks: 

On the other hand, the difference is seen only in the case of products with large amounts of traffic. Performance is also another parameter that depends on how good an app’s architecture is. Plus, there is an array of tips and tricks for developers that help increase the performance of RoR.

RoR developers are expensive

Ruby does seem to be among the highest-paid programming languages in 2020 globally.

However, every good developer is expensive, no matter what language they are proficient in. But only using the expertise of experienced professionals, the quality of your project can be guaranteed.

The future of Ruby on Rails

It seems that every year new articles appear announcing the demise of Ruby on Rails, to the point when it has become something similar to a running gag in the developer community. Why are people speaking about it at all? The Ruby language goes back to 1995 and the Rails framework was created in 2004. Everything changes very fast in the field of web development with new hip technologies coming up every now and then. Sometimes it’s due to the necessity of solving some new issues. Sometimes just because something is trending. Developers, like every other person, are sometimes prone to favor new exciting trends. 

The important thing that while Ruby on Rails is more than 15 years old, it’s constantly being developed to cater to the arising needs of the business. The current version of Rails exceeds the previous one by including the Zeitwerk — a new code loader for Ruby and an action mailbox. It also supports multiple databases and can run test cases in parallel. These new features help it remain up-to-date and competitive.

Now everybody is waiting for the Ruby 3.0 that is due to be released around Christmas 2020. 

To wrap up

Ruby on Rails is one of our preferred choices for a variety of projects because it gives us the option of the fast development of custom software solutions. RoR is very well established as a tool for creating technically complex web projects. All its advantages make Rails a strong enough tool to build MVPs that satisfy the market, launch successful startups, and be used by large companies.

Check out our Ruby on Rails development projects in our portfolio. One of our Rails projects is Cubebrush — a large e-commerce platform for artists where they can sell and buy digital resources. Another example is CGSociety — a social network for professional CG artists worldwide. 

Hopefully, we’ve given an answer to the question of why use Ruby on Rails nowadays and have outlined its main advantages and disadvantages. We use the best of established Ruby on Rails development practices as well as the cutting-edge technologies to make products that work flawlessly.

Mobile app development
Making apps stay on peoples' phones.
Written by Kate Shokurova
June 06, 2020

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