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The Rails 3 Way (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby) Paperback – 10 Dec 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 2 edition (10 Dec. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321601661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321601667
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 572,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Praise for the Previous Edition


This encyclopedic book is not only a definitive Rails reference, but an indispensable guide to Software-as-a-Service coding techniques for serious craftspersons. I keep a copy in the lab, a copy at home, and a copy on each of my three e-book readers, and it’s on the short list of essential resources for my undergraduate software engineering course.

—Armando Fox, adjunct associate professor, University of California, Berkeley


Everyone interested in Rails, at some point, has to follow The Rails Way.

—Fabio Cevasco, senior technical writer, Siemens AG, and blogger at


I can positively say that it’s the single best Rails book ever published to date. By a long shot.

—Antonio Cangiano, software engineer and technical evangelist at IBM


This book is a great crash course in Ruby on Rails! It doesn’t just document the features of Rails, it filters everything through the lens of an experienced Rails developer—so you come our a pro on the other side.

—Dirk Elmendorf, co-founder of Rackspace, and Rails developer since 2005


The key to The Rails Way is in the title. It literally covers the “way” to do almost everything with Rails. Writing a truly exhaustive reference to the most popular Web application framework used by thousands of developers is no mean feat. A thankful community of developers that has struggled to rely on scant documentation will embrace The Rails Way with open arms. A tour de force!

—Peter Cooper, editor, Ruby Inside


In the past year, dozens of Rails books have been rushed to publication. A handful are good. Most regurgitate rudimentary information easily found on the Web. Only this book provides both the broad and deep technicalities of Rails. Nascent and expert developers, I recommend you follow The Rails Way.

—Martin Streicher, chief technology officer, McLatchy Interactive; former editor-in-chief of Linux Magazine


Hal Fulton’s The RubyWay has always been by my side as a reference while programming Ruby. Many times I had wished there was a book that had the same depth and attention to detail, only focused on the Rails framework. That book is now here and hasn’t left my desk for the past month.

—Nate Klaiber, Ruby programmer


As noted in my contribution to the Afterword: “What Is the Rails Way (To You)?,” I knew soon after becoming involved with Rails that I had found something great. Now, with Obie’s book, I have been able to step into Ruby on Rails development coming from .NET and be productive right away. The applications I have created I believe to be a much better quality due to the techniques I learned using Obie’s knowledge.

—Robert Bazinet,, .NET and Ruby community editor, and founding member of the Hartford, CT, Ruby Brigade


Extremely well written; it’s a resource that every Rails programmer should have. Yes, it’s that good.

—Reuven Lerner, Linux Journal columnist

From the Back Cover

The Ruby on Rails Application Development Bible


Ruby on Rails strips complexity from the development process, enabling professional developers to focus on what matters most: delivering business value via clean and maintainable code. This book is the only comprehensive, authoritative guide to delivering production-quality code with Rails 3. Pioneering Rails expert Obie Fernandez and a team of leading experts illuminate the entire Rails 3 API, along with the idioms, design approaches, and libraries that make developing applications with Rails so powerful. Drawing on their unsurpassed experience and track record, they address the real challenges development teams face, showing how to use Rails 3 to maximize your productivity.

Using plentiful detailed code examples, Obie systematically covers Rails 3 key capabilities and subsystems, making this book a reference that you will refer to again and again. He presents advanced Rails programming techniques that have been proven effective in day-to-day usage on dozens of production Rails systems and offers important insights into behavior-driven development and production considerations such as scalability. Dive deep into the Rails 3 codebase together, discovering why Rails is designed the way it is— and how to make it do what you want it to do.

This book will help you

  • Learn what’s new in Rails 3
  • Increase your productivity as a web application developer
  • Realize the overall joy in programming with Rails
  • Leverage Rails’ powerful capabilities for building REST-compliant APIs
  • Drive implementation and protect long-term maintainability using RSpec
  • Design and manipulate your domain layer using Active Record
  • Understand and program complex program flows using Action Controller
  • Master sophisticated URL routing concepts
  • Use Ajax techniques via Rails 3 support for unobtrusive JavaScript
  • Incorporate logins and authentication into your application
  • Extend Rails with the best third-party plug-ins and write your own
  • Integrate email services into your applications with ActionMailer
  • Choose the right Rails production configuration
  • Streamline deployment with Capistrano
  • Improve application responsiveness with background processing
  • Create your own non-Active Record domain classes using Active Model
  • Master Rails’ utility classes and extensions in Active Support

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stuart on 27 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is neither a reference manual nor a beginners guide to rails, it is not going to try and teach you Ruby, and it does not take you through building a Rails application, and it makes certain assumptions about the gems and libraries you should be already using to develop and test Rails Applications. It is however a fantastic book to unravel some of the deepest mysteries of RoR, explaining how Rails works its magic from under the hood in an easy to understand dialogue and sensible format, giving an in depth view of each of the elements that make up the Rails stack, (Config, Routes, Controllers, Active Record, Action View, Helpers, plus much more) while showing you how to keep to the path of least resistance. I haven't read it 'cover to cover' yet, but its a great book to just pick up, choose a section and expand your knowledge. I am not a Rails expert, and would consider myself to be at an intermediate level with both Ruby and Rails, which is why I am finding The Rails Way the perfect tool to bridge my knowledge of a fantastic programming language and a powerful web development tool. If you are developing websites with Ruby on Rails, you would truly benefit from reading this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I originally purchased the original Rails Way - along with the Ruby Way (and others in the series) - I have always rated these books highly and this rewrite to cover rail3 is again excellent as expected.

I have also ordered a 'companion' which is the Ruby Tutorial - which seems to have been delayed in release (with DVD) - and have in my impatience purchased the package direct from the authors web site - in pdf and ipod/QTime format.

I cannot express how highly I regard this book alongside the others in the same series.

I would add more specifics but am working my way through book - and will update review with specifics again. Great Coverage!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book lifted back the covers of Ruby on Rails 3.0 and allows a more experienced developer to learn about how to bend the framework to their needs as necessary.
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By meh on 24 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book for digging into the makeup of rails. It's such a powerful framework with huge and extensive API documentation available online, but it does benefit from the human touch provided in this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
A Rails 3.0 reference for experts, but a flawed champ.. 20 Dec. 2010
By Peter Cooper - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Rails 3 Way is an interesting book representing a large amount of effort digging into Rails 3. It shares insights and technical knowledge you'd struggle to patch together from blog posts and documentation. It's a very opinionated book and will not be to everyone's taste. For starters, ERb isn't covered at all, instance variables in views are scowled at, and Test::Unit is treated with contempt.

It's not an introductory book in any sense and Obie acknowledges this in his introduction. Obie bills it as a "day-to-day reference for the full-time Rails developer" - a fair description IMHO, but the book feels disjointed in places and has a scattershot approach to what it cares to cover. You need to be clued up to digest this book properly. For an intermediate to expert Rails developer (especially one yet to move to Rails 3) or an expert Rubyist new to Rails, The Rails 3 Way is a useful book that unearths some of the trickier parts of Rails 3 a professional needs to know about. I recommend it - but not as wholeheartedly as the original edition for a number of reasons:

* Parts of the book feel curiously short or scattershot in their coverage. The AJAX on Rails chapter is a mere 16 pages. The RSpec chapter is 33 pages long and provides only an overview (and says as much) though given the recent release of RSpec 2.0 and the new RSpec book, this may be a plus. Rails Engines aren't discussed or covered at all except for a small sidenote that links you to a gist on GitHub. It's not all bad though - some chapters are great, complete guides to a topic, such as Active Record Associations and Advanced Active Record.

* A lot can be gathered from what's not mentioned in the book at all: Capybara, Selenium, Webrat, Searchlogic, SASS, factory_girl.. It wouldn't be expected for a book like The Rails 3 Way to go into depth with any of these tools but having no mentions of them when related issues are raised feels like a missed opportunity to give people some guidance. The lack of Webrat is bizarre since the only full integration test shown in the book clearly uses it. Webrat is neither mentioned nor explained. Nor is Capybara, Webrat's heir apparent.

* The concept of using a different ORM than ActiveRecord is mentioned only once, in the context of running --skip-migration on a rails generate in order to prevent ActiveRecord migrations being generated. Considering what a big deal ORM agnosticism was when developing Rails 3, this is a disappointment.

* Concepts are sometimes used in code but not mentioned in the text. In the RSpec chapter, for instance, the first example includes a call to factory_girl's Factory method, yet nothing about factory_girl or the benefits of factories is covered. I only know it's factory_girl being called because the gem's name appears in the copy-and-pasted output from running bundle install 500 pages earlier.

* Tests are rarely used or demonstrated except in the RSpec overview, Working With Active Record (4 test snippets in 39 pages), Action Mailer (once), and Active Record Associations (6 test snippets in 50 pages). Oddly, though, 4 stray instances of using Test::Unit instead pop up when writing a test for a belongs_to association - it's never used again anywhere else in the main part of the book..

Nonetheless, I recommend the book. It's a flawed champ. While there are other great Rails books in the pipeline, The Rails 3 Way offers a lot right now, as long as you're either happy to look past its flaws or skilled enough to mentally fill in the blanks..
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Not a good reference, not a good intro 6 Sept. 2011
By David Copeland - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had I written this review after about a month with this book, I would've given it very high marks. However, after several months with it, attempting to us it in a real Rails 3 project, I find it wanting.

It's billed as a reference for Rails 3, and seems intended as something to have dog-eared, by your side, while cranking out a Rails app. In my experience over the last several months, it has been a source of frustration, providing me with little more than introductory information on topics that, sadly, are better covered by the rails guides or in various blog posts.

The section on Active Record, specifically on querying, is very light. It's mostly a printout/summary of some of the methods available, with no substantive examples, or anything close to what might be required in the real world. AREL is barely mentioned; all we get is a link to the github page.

There are two bigger disappointments: testing and AJAX.

The AJAX section is not remotely sufficient to become effective with the rails 3 Unobtrusive JavaScript stuff, and most of this section is spent on RJS, which the book says is not recommend (so why is it there?). The way in which Rails deals with AJAX, and the tools it provides, are very poorly documented in general, and this is the sort of gap you'd expect this book to fill in. Not the case.

Testing: Testing is not even listed in the index. Let me repeat that: Testing is not even listed in the index. There is a chapter on RSpec, which is wholly out of place, most of the chapter just dealing with general RSPec stuff. There is some rails-specific stuff, but overall this is IT for testing. Again, the tools and APIs Rails provides for testing are powerful, but very weakly documented, and this book completely drops the ball on filling in this crucial gap. I find it rich, since the Rails community prides itself on testing. Additionally, it seems inconsistent with other non-Rails-default choices (Test::Unit being the default); HAML is used in all view examples, yet there isn't even a mention of it as being nonstandard, nor is there so much as a SIDEBAR to explain how it works. While I personally think using HAML was a bad choice, if the case is to be made that it's superior; at least throw people a bone so they understand what it is, why it should be used, and how it works.

A big chunk of the book is simply formatted API documentation. This information can be easily found online, and is far easier to search.

Given all of this, I've found that The Rails 3 Way has not ONCE provided me with the answer to an issue I was having building what I believe to be a very simple website. Every time, I've closed the book and searched the web, often finding clear and cogent explanations; the exact things that should be in this book!

A book that touts itself as a reference for advanced Rails development should provide more in-depth explanation of not just how things work, but how to go about discovering advanced features and diagnosing problems.

If you are looking for introductory material, I'd advise against this, and if you are looking for more advanced coverage, again, I cannot recommend this book.
38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Kindle version is unusable 12 Jun. 2011
By Johan Pretorius - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have no issue with the contents of the book, only the Kindle implementation thereof.

Listings and tables are converted to images, and some of those are so small that it is all but impossible to read on the Kindle.

Unfortunately, the Kindle for PC version is even worse, the image rendering is pathetic, to say the least.

I've bought 3 other Kindle books from the Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series as well, only Eloquent Ruby and Rails AntiPatterns can be read in their entirety on the Kindle, Service-Orientated Design with Ruby and Rails is as badly delivered as The Rails 3 Way.

At least one can get some of the missing details by looking at the source code repositories for each book, but that is no excuse. If you buy a book (paper copy), surely the expectation is that all pages can be read?
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Valuable unless you're very beginner or very expert 1 Jun. 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
meh, useful if you already know rails I guess 24 July 2012
By Justin Heck - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book feels like a hodge-podge mish-mash of Rails knowledge, riddled with errors and inconsistencies (contradicting itself on opposite-facing pages is not uncommon). Too often the book introduces a topic, and paragraphs or pages later will declare said topic defunct. The more attention paid to explanations of features, the more obnoxious they become - nothing is described simply. Instead, one or two highly contrived, barely comprehensible sentences will summarize a feature at the start of a description, followed by long-winded, unguided ramblings of the author's opinions on the feature or useless history. My personal favorites are when the author defers explanations to non-existent blog posts... Really, linking to a blog post in a print publication? Amateur.
The code examples, aside from not having a standard format throughout the book, all work off the same concept of timesheets, which makes not only for unstimulating reading, but the author regularly will miss the point of the feature being described just to contrive some strange use of it to fit into the timesheet paradigm.

This book could be half the length with twice the value if all the fanboy streamofconsciousness bullshit was cut out, and some proper structure/purpose was introduced. As it stands, it's best to read only the first and last sentences of any section, with a quick skim, and look elsewhere for code implementation examples of broad overview functionality descriptions.

There is a lot here, but there's little to be had. A poor excuse for a reference, and a poorer excuse for a guide.
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