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FXRuby -- Create Lean and Mean GUIs with Ruby
by Lyle Johnson


The Pragmatic Programmers
1 edition
April 2008
228 pages

Reviewed by Jesper de Jong, May 2008
  (8 of 10)


This book is about FXRuby, a library for developing GUIs with Ruby. It's a Ruby binding to the FOX toolkit. The book consists of two parts. The first part (chapters 1 to 6) is a gentle introduction to FXRuby, in which you build a simple photobook application step by step. The second part (chapters 7 to 14) is a more thorough overview of how FXRuby works and how to use all the different available widgets to build a GUI. Some advanced topics, such as FXRuby's support for OpenGL graphics, are not covered in the book. The book also does not contain a complete reference to the library - the author refers you to the online RDoc documentation. The book is written by Lyle Johnson, the lead developer of FXRuby.

I like the way the book is set up; if you're new to FXRuby, like I was when I started reading the book, then the first part is a nice and easy tutorial, and the second part is a good reference to most of FXRuby's features if you're using it in your own applications. So the book is useful for beginners and experienced users alike.

For anyone who wants to create a good GUI for their Ruby application, I would recommend them to have a look at FXRuby and this book.

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Eloquent Ruby (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series)
by Russ Olsen


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
February 2011
448 pages

Reviewed by Katrina Owen, December 2011
  (9 of 10)



Eloquent Ruby is about readability. It is about shaping your code and expressing your intent. It is about expressing yourself fluently in ruby, not just using ruby syntax to force the computer to do your will. It is subtle, beautiful, and -yes- eloquent. The book is full of code examples that clearly illustrate the text. The chapters are short, crisp, and easy to digest. The tone is informal without falling into the trap of sounding like it's trying to be funny.

The book is deeply practical while still managing to be philosophical. It is neither a reference, nor a tutorial.

While I suspect that even experienced ruby programmers would take much pleasure in reading it, I think that those who can benefit the most from it are neither the beginners nor the experts, but rather those who can get stuff done competently in ruby, but might need a nudge or some inspiration to polish their skills and improve their eloquence. Eloquent Ruby would be particularly useful to folks new to the language but with a background in programming. If this is you, this book will help you get comfortable with the idioms of the language.

I recommend it heartily, and after reading it I went straight to Amazon and bought the author's other book, Design Patterns in Ruby.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial: Learn Rails by Example (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series)
by Michael Hartl


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
December 2010
576 pages

Reviewed by Greg Charles, March 2011
  (9 of 10)



"Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial" is an excellent introduction to creating web sites with the Ruby on Rails (RoR) framework. It targets developers new to Ruby and Rails and even those new to web development in general. The friendly, conversational tone invites the reader in while copious footnotes expand on basic concepts for people who just need to know every detail.

After a couple of chapters of setup, the book focuses on building a single application, with each chapter enhancing it with another feature. I've always been a fan of this style. It makes the examples seem much more "real world" and lets the patient reader, who really follows it through from start to finish, learn a lot more than just Rails.

The author is clearly an expert at the Ruby language and the Rails framework, but more than that, is a working software engineer who introduces best practices throughout the text. The daunting first chapter walks through setting up Ruby, Rails, and also the Sqlite database, Git (and GitHub) for source code control, and Heroku for live deployments of the Rails web apps. At the same time, it manages to cram in a quick introduction to concepts such as Gems and Gem Sets, the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern, and Test Driven Development (TDD). Later chapters reinforce and build on the foundation laid by chapter one.

I can see some readers being put off by the amount of setup work it takes just to get started, but for me it was worth the effort. By being immersed in the whole RoR paradigm, from development to testing to deployment, I was able to really appreciate what it would take to run a real Rails project. I highly recommend this book.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Rails 3 Way, The (2nd Edition) (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series)
by Obie Fernandez


Addison-Wesley Professional
second edition
December 2010
768 pages

Reviewed by Katrina Owen, May 2011
  (8 of 10)




The Rails 3 Way is not quite a reference manual, nor is it a tutorial.

Before picking this up, you're probably going to want to have hit your head against something in the framework, or have tried to solve something that the framework doesn't necessarily lend itself well to, or just plain gotten stuck on something. In short, I think that you need a fair amount of context before this book is useful in any way. Not enough, and your eyes will glaze over, too much and it will seem to be restating the obvious without giving you any finer points to chew on.

This book's best audience is probably the intermediate Rails developer who has written some rails applications, has a basic understanding of the RoR framework, but still thinks that much of what happens is "magic".

If this is you, this book has much to offer. It covers all the major pieces of developing with Rails 3 from configuration to AREL to caching to writing your own plugins (and more).

For such a developer, The Rails 3 Way is likely to take you from being a haphazard poke-a-stick-at-it programmer to a deliberate, skillful, productive, and confident RoR developer.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Rails AntiPatterns: Best Practice Ruby on Rails Refactoring (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series)
by Chad Pytel, Tammer Saleh


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
November 2010
400 pages

Reviewed by Katrina Owen, December 2010
  (9 of 10)



I have a love affair with this book.

Every section of every chapter has given me practical refactoring advice, and for every section I find myself putting the book down in order to dig into my current project and apply what I'm learning about.

The book covers common errors seen in all aspects of a rails project: models, controllers, views, helpers, services, routes, authentication, using third party libraries, testing, performance, scaling, deploying, and exception handling.

This is not a book for learning how to write rails applications. In fact, I believe it is a book that would be best suited to someone who has actually done at least some rails programming already. It's very useful to have made the mistakes that are covered, to have had to fix bugs, maintain, and extend code that contains these code smells, to have made the choices that lead to the various antipatterns described. Without that pain, I don't think you'll get much in the way of epiphanies.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Everyday Scripting with Ruby for Teams, Testers, and You
by Brian Marick


Pragmatic Bookshelf
1 edition
January 2007
310 pages

Reviewed by Jason Menard, April 2007
  (9 of 10)


When I first heard that the Pragmatic Programmers were putting out a book on Ruby oriented towards testers, I thought to myself that I knew a few testers who might be able to benefit. I was a bit surprised when I received the book and the focus changed from that of testing to something a bit more generic. And after flipping through it I was afraid this would be just yet another book teaching Ruby.

Despite my initial misgivings, as I read through the book its value became apparent. This is not a book aimed at teaching people who are interested in developing complex systems in Ruby; this title is aimed squarely at using Ruby for scripting. "Everyday Scripting with Ruby" is a task-oriented tutorial that will help the reader quickly become productive writing useful scripts. The examples throughout the book are truly indicative of the types of problems that scripts are written to solve, and the book doesn't waste much time on fluff or things that are otherwise not likely to be of interest to the scripter.

While "Everyday Scripting with Ruby" isn't much of a reference manual, it does work pretty well as a tutorial. Readers will typically get the most value from the book by reading it cover-to-cover and following along by getting the examples working on their own computers. Many of the chapters finish with problems for the reader to try out on their own, with the solutions to the problems being detailed in the back of the book. Through reading the text, trying the examples, and further exploration of the material through tackling the end-of-chapter problems, the reader will come away confidant that they can use Ruby to successfully write scripts to solve their problems. You can't ask for much more than that.

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Pragmatic Bookshelf
1 edition
January 2007
310 pages

Reviewed by Marc Peabody, April 2007
  (9 of 10)


I can't say it any better than this: You really need to learn Ruby if you haven't already. I also can't say it any better than this: If you're new to Ruby, Everyday Scripting with Ruby is the best bang for your Ruby buck.

I highly recommended this to our beginners at the Columbus Ruby Brigade and I highly recommend it now for Ruby beginners everywhere. Mr. Marick makes the journey into Ruby indisputably pragmatic. I was pleasantly surprised how much I learned from so few pages (a little under 300 in all). Other books and tutorials made me familiar with Ruby; this gem made me comfortable with it.

The book was originally intended for non-programmers, but my honest opinion is that at least some previous exposure to programming might be necessary to completely understand what's going on. So don't run out and buy a copy as a Mother's Day present unless your mother happens to do a lot of tedious, repetitive tasks on the computer and is looking for a way to automate everything (hey, it could happen). But let's face it: it's likely that your mom will prefer flowers and you'll prefer a copy of Everyday Scripting with Ruby.

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Beginning Ruby on Rails E-Commerce: From Novice to Professional
by Christian Hellsten, Jarkko Laine


Apress
1 edition
November 2006
448 pages

Reviewed by Johannes de Jong, December 2006
  (10 of 10)


Once in a while a book gets written that makes your life as a programmer easier; this book is one of them.

Why you might ask? To start off with, I can use +/- 60% of their demo application, emporium, as a basis for a application I've started writing; and my application has absolutely nothing to do with a book store. Their application addresses common tasks i.e. standard CRUD, security, multiple language support etc. things you will encounter in any web-based application.

I've never fully understood the fuzz about the Test Driven Design and I thought that writing test code before writing the actual code meant you were bananas. I know better know. If you follow their advice and example, boy do they write a lot of test code in their application, releasing your code to production won't be the dreaded "gone is my weekend" event it used to be. Thank you for showing the way guys.

I also like their writing style, it is as if you are part of the discussions with the user, George, as the application evolves from an idea till a pretty sophisticated amazon type clone. Everything is done using extensive user stories and you fully understand their reasons for their solution to the problems.

This book has everything you need to take your level of understanding / knowledge of Rails to higher level and as a bonus it will also make you a better programmer general; I highly recommend this book.

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From Java to Ruby
by Bruce Tate


Pragmatic Bookshelf
1 edition
June 2006
160 pages

Reviewed by Marc Peabody, August 2006
  (10 of 10)


I've been skeptical yet curious about Ruby. There are so many darn Java frameworks out there and I needed some justification to learn Ruby instead of yet another Java framework. Hey, I kinda have a life and I value my time.

This book doesn't teach Ruby programming but it might convince you to learn it. The cover reads, "Things Every Manager Should Know" yet you don't have to be a manager to appreciate Bruce's insights. Expect no syntax - this is a higher level blueprint for the revolution.

Bruce Tate reviews, without quibble, the dark sides of Java and what can cause the language itself to be the bottleneck of your team's velocity. You then discover what types of projects and work environments best cater to a Ruby pilot project. Bruce fairly weighs the risks and benefits for a variety of scenarios and even delves into how to put together an awesome Ruby team.

From Java to Ruby was so enjoyable a read, I finished it in two days. Pick up a copy but be warned: expect your colleagues to ask, "Hey, can I read that when you're done?"

And no, I won't let you borrow mine.

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Ruby for Rails
by David A. Black


Manning Publications
1 edition
May 2006
532 pages

Reviewed by Ernest Friedman-Hill, June 2006
  (9 of 10)


Ruby is a dynamic programming language with a growing following. Rails is a Web application framework for Ruby. This book starts from the premise that many smart developers are adopting Rails with minimal prior knowledge of Ruby, and that those developers need to learn Ruby, fast!

It turns out that this is a great premise for a book. In 17 focused chapters, the reader learns everything she'll need to know to get the most out of Rails. Topics that won't be used (for example, GUI toolkits) aren't covered here. Instead the author concentrates on Ruby language features, programming idioms, and libraries that are common to all Rails applications.

The first chapter is a gem. It explains in detail where to get Ruby, how to install it, run it, debug it, and extend it, how to maintain an installation, how it's documented, and introduces the language syntax, all in two dozen pages. Much of this is treated as advanced material by other Ruby books, but every Ruby developer worth their salt needs to know it all.

Chapter 2 does something similar for Rails, helping you to understand how the pieces fit together. Later chapters concentrate on the Ruby language, and then on Rails again, always with an eye for optimal ways to use these technologies together.

Whether you're new to Ruby and Rails or just need to learn how to get the most out of this powerful combination, this book is a winner.

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Enterprise Integration With Ruby
by Maik Schmidt


Pragmatic Bookshelf
1 edition
April 2006
330 pages

Reviewed by Andrew Monkhouse, July 2006
  (9 of 10)


I think this is a great book for someone who already knows a little bit about Ruby to learn how to use it within their heterogeneous environment.

Like most books that develop a continually growing sample application, this book is best read end-to-end. However each section can be read on it's own, allowing the reader to skip to the section most relevant at a given time. Each section has a very clearly defined purpose, and where possible Maik describes multiple ways of achieving a given goal, plus he explains potential pitfalls (all with a gentle humor and easy going style that makes this book a pleasure to read).

This is not a beginner's book -- as identified on the back cover, and in the introductory text -- you are expected to know some Ruby before attempting this book. However writing for a more skilled audience may be the reason for my only complaint: the assumption that the reader will be familiar with how to set up the environment(s) necessary to work through the examples. For example, there is no explanation of how to set up the Oracle tables or data -- even a single sentence stating that SQL scripts could be found on the website would have made this a little more helpful. This is a very minor issue though, and unlikely to cause major problems for most readers.

This is a very good book, and one that I am likely to continually refer to for considerable time.

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Best of Ruby Quiz
by James Gray II


Pragmatic Bookshelf
1 edition
March 2006
312 pages

Reviewed by Jason Menard, May 2006
  (9 of 10)


Picking up the basics of a new programming language such as Ruby can be enjoyable, but if you can't apply what you've learned quickly that knowledge may be fleeting. "The Best of Ruby Quiz" can help out. "The Best of Ruby Quiz" contains twenty-five fun programming challenges ("quizzes") that are excellent for exercising your new Ruby chops. The quizzes vary in difficulty and each includes in-depth discussions covering multiple solutions. More importantly, the quizzes really are fun!

The quizzes in "The Best of Ruby Quiz" are excerpted from the author's web site "Ruby Quiz" so while you could certainly save yourself a few bucks and just visit the site, the book is a much more polished product. Also, I believe that the immediacy of the book with its superior layout really enhances the learning experience when compared to the web site.

This book makes a great companion to the Pickaxe and the two books form an effective one-two punch for learning Ruby. So go ahead and sit down with a copy of this book, fire up the code editor of your choice, pick a quiz and start coding. Not only will you learn a thing or two about Ruby, you'll have a good time doing it.

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Programming Ruby
by Dave Thomas, Chad Fowler, Andy Hunt


Pragmatic Bookshelf
second edition
October 2004
829 pages

Reviewed by Lasse Koskela, November 2004
  (9 of 10)


This was another book that I picked up with the expectation that it would introduce me to a whole new programming language. It did. And it did it well. The overall quality of the writing is top notch and the pragmatic approach simply works. Not too much memorizing the language syntax, not too much talk about the history of computers. Instead, the book jumps to the Ruby world head on.

So I just said "not too much memorizing the language syntax". What does that mean? Well, the first part of the book does indeed teach the reader to write syntactically correct Ruby code. However, the way it accomplishes this is not by focusing on the syntax but on the function behind the syntax. Also, the authors have paced the chapters so that you won't be spending too long a time reading about some single specific thing. For me, this approach fits like an old glove. I usually read books in short sprints, be it in a bathtub, a bus, or in bed. Having said that, I do believe that you can get the most out of this book by alternating with reading the book and the interactive Ruby interpreter. There is a downside to the fast pace, though. At times, a specific chapter doesn't quite give you the kind of sense of belonging as the others around it do.

Looking at the wide range of topics listed in the table of contents, the book definitely looks like it covers everything under the Sun. Some of the topics got me panting, almost. Developing web applications with Ruby (one of my motivations behind deciding to read the book in the first place) and unit testing Ruby classes, for example, were topics that I was a bit disappointed about not getting more focus.

Another thing I didn't like too much is the size. At 800+ pages, you're not likely to carry this book around with you. I would've personally preferred putting the 300-page the language/API reference online and left it out from the hardcopy. With the size thing out of my way, I have to admit that the reference certainly looks great compared to what I've seen in most Java books, for example.

All in all, I'm confident that this is one of the best Ruby books out there if not the best, even. Regardless of the few gripes I listed above, there's more than enough absolute gems hidden within these covers. I am certain you won't have second thoughts picking this one to get started on your Ruby way.

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The Bunkhouse administrator is Ankit Garg.