Nicolas Alpi, Web developer

A blog about productivity, startups and me.

Beginning Ruby on Rails, Where to Start and Find Help?

So that’s it, you want to start development with Ruby on Rails, but you don’t know where to start.
The good thing is Ruby on Rails has a very clever and smart community, and you can find lots of documentation on the web.
Here is quick summary on where to start.


If you really want to learn Ruby on Rails, the best first thing to do is certainly to invest in a good paper/electronic book.
There are lots of books available outside but I would only recommend two of them.

Agile web development with Rails
Probably the most popular book outside. The third version include Rails 2.x support and was co-written by Sam Ruby, Dave Thomas, David Heinemeier Hansson, et al.
A must have.

The Rails Way
Obie Fernandez came here with one of the best book for rails developer. From the beginning to Rspec, you’ll learn how to start coding and testing your new Rails App. Btw, Obie Fernandez is the guy behind Thoughtbot.


New ruby on rails wiki
While your waiting your book to be delivered, you might have a look to the  new ruby on rails wiki started by the Rails Activist Team. Let say, in a nutshell, that this wiki is a big FAQ for Rails, and beginners should find here responses to their questions.

On line Documentation

Rails Guides
You know what they say, RTFM before asking a dummy question! So be sure to checkout the awesome Rails Guides before asking any question, you’ll certainly find your answer.

Official Ruby on Rails doc
Well, not the best looking, but at least it does the job.

Rails Brain
Rails brain ajaxified the official ruby doc, for a smoother search experience. The good thing is you can access on line, old Rails versions doc. Note there is also RubyBrain

Rails *S*ea*rch*able API Doc
A very nice Ajax interface to parse the Rails (and some other gems) api. You can download it, and copy the directory in your web server root directory to have an off line access to it.

Probably Certainly the best documentation search tool ever!. It combines documentation and community in the same project. Very smart. (Note there are Firefox and Textmate extensions).


Rails forum
A friendly and smart community, alway here to help. Feel free to ask your question if you didn’t find the answer above.

Ruby on Rails Google group
I’m not a big fan of malling lists/Google groups, but it’s a nice one, with again a huge community.


Definitively one of the best way to learn how to develop is to listen/watch  some else coding.

I don’t remember how was my Monday morning before the Railscast. Ryan Bates will offer you every week  a new free screencast, full of good coding practice and advice. A must to watch, with a warm cup of tea.

One of the best quality screencast for Rails/Merb/Development in general. If you are new to rails, I just recommend you the REST for Rails2 screencast and the Rails2 PDF.

Rails Envy Podcast
Still need to present them? Presented by Greg Pollack and Jason Siffier Saffer Seifer (he never knows how to pronounce names either!) . These guys are just crazy, and yes it’s a compliment. Every week, during 20 minutes, you’ll learn all the hot new stuff happening in the Ruby/Rails/Merb community, with fun. Check it out.

What else?

Sure you can extend this list with blog talking about Rails, Twitters of trendy rails developers to follow, github account to watch … sure, but I think with this list above you’ll have a good entry point to the community.
Now have fun and happy coding ;) (go write your tests!).