Rails Has Great Documentation

To this day I still hear people complain that Rails has poor documentation. From where I’m sitting this seems far from the truth. Let me lay out the evidence piece by piece:


To learn Rails from scratch Michael Hartl recently finished his book Ruby on Rails Tutorial: Learn Rails by Example. The book teaches Rails 3 from the ground up and it’s available for FREE online. If you’d rather have a PDF or a book you can grab that as well (and he’s even working on some screencasts).

The source for the finalized book will be pushed to GitHub and released under a Creative Commons License shortly after Rails 3 is done. If you’d like to help translate the book to your language of choice, feel free to contact Michael and he’ll get in touch when it’s time to make it happen.

Rails Guides

If you’re not a Rails newbie don’t forget about the Rails Guides, which have been updated for Rails 3.

Rails API Docs

There are two main websites I use to do API lookups. The first is Rails Searchable API Doc, which has online and offline searchable documentation. The second is APIdock which is online only, but has the ability to comment and easily compare different versions of documentation.

Rails 3 Free Screencasts

If you’re more of a visual learner (like me) then there are plenty of free screencasts to teach you about Rails 3. About 2 months ago I produced the Rails 3 Screencasts, which will get you started.

Ryan Bates has also produced an incredible amount of Rails 3 screencasts over on Railscasts.com. Ryan has been producing Railscasts for over 3 1/2 years, isn’t that crazy?

There’s also a few good free screencasts over on Teach me to Code by Charles Max Wood.

Keeping on the Edge

If you find yourself wondering how to keep up with all of the newest features / libraries for Rails 3, both the Ruby5 Podcast and the Ruby Show are going strong. Don’t listen to audio? It doesn’t matter, just subscribe to the Ruby5 RSS feed and get links with descriptions to all the newest libraries, tutorials, and more. You might also want to checkout Peter Cooper’s new Ruby Weekly, a Ruby email newsletter.

Need to upgrade a big app to Rails 3?

Jeremy McAnally’s Rails 3 Upgrade Handbook PDF is just $12. There’s also a few paid screencasts for the upgrade over on Thinkcode.tv and BDDCasts.

Need a Book?

There’s a bunch of books that will be coming out after the release, most of which you can start reading now. The Rails 3 Way by Obie Fernandez, Rails 3 In Action by Ryan Bigg and Yehuda Katz, Beginning Rails by Cloves Carneiro Jr and Rida Al Barazi, and of course the Agile Web Development with Rails:fourth edition by Sam Ruby, Dave Thomas, and David Heinemeier Hansson.

In conclusion

No more complaining about lack of good documentation! Seriously. If you want even more Rails 3 content, check out the blog post by Kevin Faustino on 34 Ruby on Rails 3 resources to get you started.

Rails 3.0: Release candidate 2

The release candidate process is progressing as planned. This second candidate has very few changes over the first, which means that unless any blockers are discovered with this release, we’re targeting the final release of Rails 3.0 for this week(!!!).

So please do help us weed out any blockers. Especially in our two new main dependencies: Bundler and ARel. They’ve both progressed into release candidacy for their 1.0 releases and will be sharing the same 1.0-final release date as Rails 3.0.

You can see a complete list of all the dotted t’s and crossed i’s on the new fabulous Github comparo view of RC1 and RC2.

As always, you install this latest version with: gem install rails --pre

Also note that Rails 3.0 now has it’s own stable branch. The master branch is now reserved for Rails 3.1 development. (That’s right, we’re already going there and it’s going to be M-A-G-I-C-A-L!).

Rails 3.0: Release candidate!

High off Baltimore Pandemic and Yellow Tops, I believe we promised a release candidate shortly after RailsConf. As things usually go in open source, we gorged ourselves on fixes and improvements instead. But all to your benefit. We’ve had 842 commits by 125 authors since the release of the last beta!

Now it’s time to just say good is good enough, otherwise we could keep on with this forever. So please welcome the Rails 3 release candidate! You install, as always, with gem install rails --pre.

Most of the fixes have been of minor significance, but we did manage to dramatically speed up Rails 3 development and startup speed for larger applications (Basecamp went from insufferable to about 2.3 levels of enjoyment).

Speed is now pretty good across the board except for part of Arel that Active Record now depends on. We’ll be making sure we get performance of Active Record back to at least 2.3 levels before release.

A few more highlights:

Indulge yourself in the delights of all the glorious details from the commit logs or checkout the slightly less pedantic summaries in the CHANGELOGs.

This release candidate of Rails 3 also concides with the release candidate of Bundler 1.0. Huge strides were made with Bundler and it should both be much faster and have most of the edge cases sawed off.

I’ve said “we’re almost there” so many times that I’m almost exhausted. But really, guys, WE’RE ALMOST THERE!!!1

1 Just a few weeks before final is out?

Rails 3.0: Beta 4 now, RC in days

RailsConf 2010 is underway and what better occasion to do the final stage of the Rails 3 beta program. We’re very pleased to announce Rails 3 beta 4, which we’ll be hammering on and tuning during RailsConf.

At the end of RailsConf, we’ll be putting out the release candidate. So if you’re at the conference, and even if you’re not, now is the time to give upgrading a chance or even starting a new app. We’re all responsible for making this release solid, please join the fun.

You can install the latest beta with gem install rails --pre

Since we’re so close to release now, it’s also a great pleasure to introduce the new Rails 3 screencast series by Gregg Pollack and EnvyLabs. They’ve done an awesome job putting together six episodes and more are coming. You can also read along in their great Rails 3 slides from the RailsConf tutorial.

I also gave a keynote on Rails 3 this morning at RailsConf, so you can enjoy the slides.

Let’s race to the finish line together.

Ruby on Rails 2.3.8 Released

The 2.3.7 release slipped out the door too hastily. Fixing compatibility with the rails_xss plugin inadvertently forced everyone to use it. Facepalm.

I apologize for wasting a chunk of your day on installing what ought to have been a patch-level update only to find it breaks your app. That’s well out of line with our stable release process and it’s my fault for stepping out of it. I got caught up in a sky-is-falling response to a 2.3.6 bug that affected a handful of users and responded with a fix that exposed a new flaw to nearly all users, despite testing and sanity checking.

Thanks for all your feedback today. We hear you, and yes, a thousand times yes. Every stable release, including point releases, deserves the same methodical drumbeat on its march from git stable to to .pre gem to final gem. Expect no less.

Now, on to the gem-cutting: Rails 2.3.8 is available now, bringing us back to stable ground.

Ruby on Rails 2.3.7 Released

With the 2.3.6 release hot out of the oven, Nathan Weizenbaum began updating HAML to support it. He uncovered a couple of bugs in the HTML-safety changes backported from Rails 3, so we’re cutting a 2.3.7 release to fix them.

If you use the rails_xss plugin for automatic HTML escaping, you should upgrade to Rails 2.3.7 and the latest rails_xss plugin.

If you don’t use the rails_xss plugin yet, now’s the time to start. It’s baked in to Rails 3.

Update: fixing compatibility with the rails_xss plugin broke HTML-safety for apps that don’t use rails_xss. We’re sorry, all: HTML-safety is meant to be opt-in! The fix is available now in 2.3.8.pre1 and will be released shortly.

Ruby on Rails 2.3.6 Released

We’ve released Ruby on Rails 2.3.6: six months of bug fixes, a handful of new features, and a strong bridge to Rails 3.

We deprecated some obscure and ancient features in Rails 2.3.6 so we could cut them entirely from Rails 3. If your app runs on Rails 2.3.6 without deprecation warnings, you’re in good shape for a smooth sail onward.

This slow-cooked dish is brought to you some 87 committers from our all-volunteer kitchen.

Now, let’s open the goodie bag!

Action Pack

  • Upgrade Rack from 1.0.1 to 1.1.0.
  • XSS prevention: update to match Rails 3 and move to the official plugin at http://github.com/rails/rails_xss.
  • Cookies: convenient cookie jar add-ons to set permanent or signed cookies, or both at once: cookies.permanent.signed[:remember_me] = current_user.id. Read more.
  • Flash: promote alert and notice, the most common flash keys in many apps, to self.alert = '...' and self.notice = '...'. Add redirect_to url, :alert => '...' and :notice => '...'. Read more.
  • i18n: localize the label helper.

Active Record

  • Namespacing: support optional table name prefixes on modules by defining self.table_name_prefix. Read more.
  • Destroy uses optimistic locking.
  • Counter cache: use Post.reset_counters(1234, :comments) to count the number of comments for post 1234 and reset its comments_count cache.
  • PostgreSQL: always use standard-conforming strings, if supported.
  • MySQL: add index length support. Read more.
  • MySQL: add_ and change_column support column positioning using :first => true and :after => :other_column.

Active Support

  • Upgrade i18n from 1.3.3 to 1.3.7.
  • Upgrade TZInfo from 0.3.12 to 0.3.16.
  • Multibyte: speed up string verification and cleaning.
  • JSON: use YAJL for JSON decoding, if available. gem install yajl-ruby
  • Testing: add assert_blank and assert_present. Read more.
  • Core: backport Object#singleton_class from Ruby 1.8.8, deprecating our Object#metaclass.
  • Core: add Object#presence that returns the object if it’s #present? otherwise returns nil. Example: region = params[:state].presence || params[:country].presence || 'US'
  • Core: add Enumerable#exclude? to match include?.
  • Core: rename Array#rand to Array#random_element to avoid collision with Kernel#rand.
  • Core: rename Date# and Time#last_(month|year) to #prev_(month|year) for Ruby 1.9 forward compatibility.

Active Resource

  • JSON: set ActiveResource::Base.include_root_in_json = true to serialize as a hash of model name → attributes instead of a bare attributes hash. Defaults to false.

Action Mailer

  • Upgrade TMail from 1.2.3 to 1.2.7.


  • Silence RubyGems 1.3.6 deprecation warnings.

Peruse the commit log for the full story.

Community Highlights

It’s that time again, to summarize a few interesting Rails links to highlight some of the best of the community. All of these were initially covered on the Ruby5 Podcast, the twice weekly Ruby newscast.

Rails 3 Content

The next Rails3 Bugmash is taking place May 15th and 16th. If you’ve never contributed to Rails, this is your chance to give back a little and do your part to make Rails 3 the best version ever.

To get a complete picture of routes in Rails 3, Rizwan Reza covered it best in an article over on the Engine Yard blog. If you dig the Engine Yard Rails 3 content, they recently created Rails Dispatch, where they have articles and screencasts published weekly.

Alex Maccaw recently used the Rails 3 ActiveModel abstraction to build an ActiveRecord-like in-memory database called Supermodel. You get all of the ActiveRecord goodness, such as validations, callbacks, and observers, but with none of that database headache.

As you may already know, the arel library from Rails 3 gives us a great new syntax for creating queries. Under the covers, arel converts your where conditions into sql is by using something called a PredicateBuilder. Ernie Miller recently put out a plugin called MetaWhere that takes advantage of these PredicateBuilders to give arel even more functionality.

Lastly, if it’s still not clear to you how awesome bundler is, go read Yehuda’s recent post on the topic.


Do you ever find the need to access current_user in your models? This is often required when you’re logging model/table changes on a per user basis. There are many hacks to accomplish this, but David Bock has a gem called SentientUser which does this a little cleaner.

Once your websites goes big and you start to worry about malicious user attacks, you may want to take a look at Arto Bendiken and Brendon Murphy’s Rack::Throttle Middleware. Throttle does just want you think it does, allowing you to limit the number of requests a user can ping your site (per second).

Lastly, Ryan Bates released version 1.1 of CanCan, his authorization and permission library that allows you to restrict what your users can do throughout your application.

Service Libraries

You may have heard that the Facbook API is now adopting OAuth2. If you’re ready to jump in, Michael Bleigh released the OAuth2 gem just last week.

Rails makes a great RESTful backend for iPhone applications, and recently Anthony Moralez created APN_on_rails which makes it super easy to do Apple Push Notifications.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if your Rails application needs e-commerce, this is where the Spree gem comes in, which recently hit version 0.10.0, containing a bunch of new features.


Does your Rails application have a monster testing library that takes forever to run? Then it may be time to take a look at Hydra by Nick Gauthier, a distributed testing framework which allows you to run your tests in parallel locally or across remote servers.

Some people think cucumber can be too verbose for integration tests (which clients may never read). If you think cucumber is for vegetarians, then perhaps it’s time to taste some Steak by Luismi Cavalle. Steak is a small library which helps you generate quick and clean acceptance/integration tests using RSpec.

Talking about RSpec, there are some new conventions out there to clean up your old RSpec code. If you haven’t started using “Let”, then it may be time to look through a few of Jon Larkowski’s slides.

Additional Useful Libraries

If you ever find yourself with odd memory issues then it’s probably time to use memprof.com, a new web service by Joe Damato and Ruby Hero Aman Gupta. Memprof allows you to collect memory usage information from a Ruby process and immediately upload and view it using an intuitive web interface.

Rails applications are often full of forms, and sometimes you even need to give your clients the ability to create different types of forms or surveys. This is where the Census gem comes in, providing an admin interface for creating forms, and even the ability to search through the results.

To wrap things up, delayed_job recently hit 2.0, and you’ll want to upgrade if you have an older version. The new version has some performance improvements and adds support for non-ActiveRecord ORMs.

Additional Content

To keep track of Ruby conferences check out Ruby There, a listing of all the upcoming conferences and even when the Call for Proposals are due.

For more news and libraries check out the Ruby5 podcast. If you don’t usually listen to audio, you can just subscribe to the RSS feed which contains a summary of everything covered.

If you have any stories/libraries you’d like to spread the word about, feel free to email ruby5@envylabs.com and we’ll at least get you covered on the podcast. Thanks!

Image Credit: Blue Sky on Rails by ecstaticist, Analog Solutions 606 Mod by Formication, Rainbow by One Good Bumblebee. Orange County Security by henning, remember by tochis, Darwin Was Right About Media Players! by Neeku, remote controls by redjar.

This post has been translated into Belorussian provided by PC

Rails 3.0: Third beta release

We’re marching towards the release candidates with hurried steps, but along the way we stopped by for another beta. This one spins out a few overdue extractions into plugins (see http://github.com/rails/verification and http://github.com/rails/dynamic_form), fixes a security issue with cookies, crosses a few t’s and dots a few i’s. Upgrading from beta 2 is recommended.

As always, you can install the latest beta with gem install rails --pre.

We’ll see you again soon for the release candidate.

Rails 3.0: Second beta release

It took longer than we thought, but then again, what doesn’t? This is the second beta release of Rails 3.0 and hopefully our last stop before a release candidate. There are still a handful of known regressions (see the list at the end), but we’ve made huge strides since the last release and so have auxiliary tools like Bundler.

You can find all the detailed changes in the the CHANGELOGs for each framework: Action Mailer, Action Pack, Active Record, Active Resource, Active Model, Active Support, Rails.

Please install beta 2 and try it out with new and existing applications. (gem install rails --prerelease after you make sure you’re on Ruby Gems 1.3.6 with gem update --system).

You can use Jeremy McAnally’s excellent rails_upgrade plugin to take a 2.3.x app to 3.0 (and get his update book too). There are already a good number of Rails 3 applications live in the wild.

Thanks a million to everyone who’s been working on this. Rails 3 is a mighty big barn and it’s been a joy seeing the community come together to raise it.

Note that Ruby 1.8.7 p248 and p249 has marshaling bugs that crash both Rails 2.3.x and Rails 3.0.0. Ruby 1.9.1 outright segfaults on Rails 3.0.0, so if you want to use Rails 3 with 1.9.x, jump on 1.9.2 trunk for smooth sailing.

Known regressions: Rails crashes unless configuration.action_controller.session is set, config.thread_safe does not work, Unable to run a RJS partial from an HTML template, Backtrace silencers oftem remove application lines from test failures backtraces, Active Record double escapes error_messages_for