Pros and Cons of Ruby on Rails

There are some things that never change but only get better with time.

Well, this is what Ruby on Rails is. Truly, one of the classics.

Some start-uppers like to choose hype languages and frameworks, just because everyone talks about them. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are convenient to use or sufficiently flexible.

If you happen to be a newbie to programming languages or want to know what Ruby on Rails has to offer, then welcome!

Short History of Ruby on Rails

Ruby, the programming language, was named after a valuable gemstone by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto in 1995.

Ruby or Rails was launched in 2004 and immediately caught public attention. The success and popularity lasted for more than three years. Today Ruby on Rails has become the framework of choice for Ruby.

Related: 4 key differences of Ruby versus Ruby on Rails

After RoR was launched, everyone was so amazed by this framework that they started to copy the principle in their frameworks, for example, Python and PHP.

What is Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails, also known as RoR and Rails is a web framework that is one of the most popular tools in web development. Just like most application frameworks, RoR was built with the Ruby programming language for a specific task its creator had during his work in a web application development company.

Ruby on Rails was built on the basis of the Ruby programming language which was originally meant to be a technology for fast software development. That is why Ruby on Rails is often called a “startup technology”. It was created to guarantee quick launches.

Rails was the first framework of its kind. It operates on the MVC (Model-View-Controller) principle:

  • Model is responsible for relationships between objects and the database.
  • View is templates (commonly made up of a blend of HTML and Ruby code) that are utilized to build the data users of web applications.
  • Controller binds together models and view.

Pros and Cons of Ruby on Rails

pros and cons of ruby on railspros and cons of ruby on rails

Like any other framework, RoR has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with something positive, shall we?

Advantages of Ruby on Rails

Pro #1: Time efficiency

Although it is relatively easy to learn the basics of this framework, it will take some time for you to unlock its true potential. However, if you’re ready to invest some time in this, you will definitely be amazed at how fast and effective you’ve become.

Furthermore, there are hundreds of tools that can both accelerate and simplify your overall coding experience, as well as spare your time from simple, yet time-consuming tasks. 

Basically, this means that you can make more money in the same amount of time. That’s probably why there are so many schools, online and offline courses that are dedicated to Ruby on Rails. This also means that the community is getting even bigger – which means there will be even more efficient and helpful tools! Yay!

Pro #2: A great number of helpful tools and libraries

There are hundreds of different helpful community-created “gems” and libraries that you can use as a part of your own software. However, you can find even more helpful tools among them. They influence not the content of your code, but your software design experience as a whole. 

Some of them can help you in debugging, some are a great help in optimization, and some are related to the testing stage of your work. 

Pro #3: Huge and active community

There is a huge community of RoR developers on GitHub. And, it is really active – there are many snippets of software with specific functions. You can easily use these snippets, better known as “gems”, as a basis for your own project – so you can focus on more difficult tasks. Plus, this means that you can always ask for help if you’re just getting started.

There have been more than 5000 contributors to the Rails code and the stats are growing.

Github stats on the number of Rails contributors

Pro #4: Strong adherence to standards

One of RoR’s advantages is a strong backing of web standards for every part of an application, from the user interface to data transfer. 

Applications that are made with Ruby on Rails are expected to follow established software design paradigms, such as “coding by convention” (developer needs to specify the app features that are unconventional), “don’t repeat yourself” (encouragement to avoid code duplication and to create abstractions instead) and “active record pattern” (specific way of accessing data in the database).

So, why all of these are considered to be such an advantage for RoR? 

Well, there are multiple reasons:

  • First of all, it makes the language much easier for novices to learn and much more enjoyable for professionals to use.
  • Secondly, it leads to better code readability, which is great both for the cooperation among developers and for large projects overall.
  • Finally, it minimizes the amount of code you need to write to implement a feature.

Disadvantages of Ruby on Rails

Of course, just as with any other programming language or framework, there are some negative aspects to RoR, and pitfalls that you can fall into during the development process.

But guess what? 

A new update of Ruby 3.0 is coming in 2020 and it is promised to fix some of Ruby’s weaknesses and Ruby on Rails as well.

Anyway, here are some of the drawbacks of using Ruby on Rails:

Con #1: Shortage of flexibility

When it comes to basic tasks and features, RoR is almost unchallenged. However, because there is a lot of default, set objects, there is not a lot of room for creativity. So, before you make your decision about the framework you want to use for a particular project, you need to think about its basic elements and whether they are standard or more unique.

Con #2: Continuous evolvement

It is hard to say where you should put this point in the list of pros and cons of Ruby on Rails and Ruby language. Obviously, when something changes for the better, it’s great, and it’s a natural process, especially for a language with such a big and vocal community. However, it is something that can be very difficult to adjust to, especially for newcomers and beginners.

In addition, the overwhelming changes happen not only to the framework itself but to the tools and libraries developed by the community. Not only do they improve and add new features but new ones are constantly being created. You definitely need to be a part of the community to be up-to-date on everything all the time.

Discover: Is Ruby on Rails dying?

Con #3: Performance time

This con of RoR is always debated and it is a subject for discussion and comparison with other web application frameworks. The boot time of the framework is quite long, especially when you work with a massive project, but does it also concern the runtime speed? Well, a lot of developers would argue that this is not the case for apps with proper optimization.

However, if you compare the waiting time with other frameworks such as Node.js, you will definitely see the difference. However, this difference is not that significant – it can definitely be overlooked due to all the great stuff Rails has to offer.

Con #4: Price of a mistake

The price of a mistake in developing with Ruby on Rails is heavily connected to the performance time. If you’re able to be thorough and pay attention to all the small details during the development, Ruby on Rails will definitely be your helpful friend. 

However, if you make some wrong judgment during the beginning of the development, it can easily slow down your whole application significantly, cause problems with the connection between different parts of your software, and lead to unintended consequences. 

Suggested: while working with Rails, be careful and attentive.

Who uses Ruby on Rails?

Often corporations with professional analysts make good decisions about the tools they use for their projects. This is why such tools often get an indisputable reputation for being solid and reliable.

Ruby on Rails has definitely earned such a reputation as there are a lot of really massive projects that still use it.

Find out more: What is Ruby on Rails used for?

Which companies use Ruby on Rails?

  • Twitch
  • GitHub
  • Airbnb
  • Shopify
  • Bloomberg
  • Etsy

As you can see Rails is used by many companies and despite pointless rumors of RoR’s death, it keeps on living and blooming. Long live Rails!

Uses of Ruby on Rails: Rails is also perfect for creating prototypes, MVPs and small and medium websites. It is very popular in the start-up community – there are dozens of new and exciting projects that are being developed right now!

Related: How to choose a startup technology stack?

All in all, just like any other programming language or framework, Ruby on Rails has its own shortcomings and limitations. However, it is made for a specific task, and it works marvellously for the job it was built for. 

Ruby on Rails was made to speed up the development process and guarantee startuppers quick launches of their project.

Time is money, but sometimes time is EVERYTHING. So if you’re building a startup, then Ruby on Rails might be your perfect match.

As per our experience over the past 10 years, we’ve built a big number of startups on Rails and saw how good it can be for startup growth.

But if you are struggling to choose the technology for YOUR project, just drop us a line for a consultation.

Posted by Contributor