6 Best Ruby on Rails Books in 2023
Rails is one of many web frameworks in the world of app programming and web development. Rails framework includes collections of code libraries that give app and web developers readymade solutions for time-consuming and repetitive tasks like building menus, tables, or forms on a website. The Rails framework is written on top of the Ruby programming language.
To help programmers in selecting a well-structured and latest book for learning Rails, we have narrowed it down to the best Rails books. We have selected the latest books where content is focused on the latest changes and gives you the confidence to move forward.
Why Learn Rails?
In a rapidly changing software development world you need to be ALWAYS up-to-date with your knowledge - that’s a fact. I am going to give you some reasons why you should learn Rails.
Rails is beginner-friendly: Rails is so forgiving to beginners and easy to use, it is a great first framework to learn if you're interested in web development.
High in demand: Companies are willing to pay high amounts for people with the right skills. Rails is one of the most in-demand skill sets in the current market, resulting in higher salaries for the many opportunities up for grabs.
Active community: Rails community is very active and supportive. Frequent updates and new gems created by developers ensure that the applications created using the framework can be developed more easily and delivered more quickly. The active community regularly shares experiences and troubleshooting problems.
Easy maintenance: Rails is founded on two key tenets: DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) and Convention Over Configuration. By not writing the same information over and over again, the code is more maintainable, more extensible, and less buggy. Moreover, Rails developers work from the shared common ground of Rails conventions.
What Rails Version to Study
As of this writing, Rails 7 is the most recent major version, released in December 2021. Because Rails 7 was released so recently, most books available cover Rails 6.
You can still get the benefits from learning rails by studying Rails 6. To catch up on changes from version 6 to 7, read Ruby on Rails 7.0 Release Notes.
What Makes The Best Rails Books?
Here are our criteria for the selection of the books:
Use clear, precise, and easy-to-understand language
Thoroughly teach and explain the latest Rails concepts
Contain exercises, examples, and practice problems for hands-on experience
Enable to hold the attention of readers
Well-structured and friendly toward self-taught programmers
Best Books on Rails
It's worth investing your time and effort to master Rails, especially if you have an upcoming project in the framework.
Here are the reviews on the best and latest Rails books for developers. The knowledge inside them is timeless and will teach you rules and schemes applicable in Rails.
1. Best book for hands-on learners: Ruby on Rails Tutorial
Though I’ve worked my way through many Rails books, this is the one that finally made me ‘get’ it. Everything is done very much ‘the Rails way.’
~ Ruby on Rails Tutorial, Foreword
Ruby on Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl is a 2020 book that provides integrated tutorials not only for Rails, but also for the essential Ruby, HTML, CSS, and SQL. The book guides you through the development of three example applications of increasing sophistication.
The examples focus on the general principles of web development needed for virtually any kind of website. The author explains how each new technique solves a real-world problem. He then demonstrates it with bite-sized code that’s simple enough to understand.
Here's what you'll learn from the book:
Install and set up your Rails development environment, including a pre-installed integrated development environment (IDE) in the cloud
Go beyond generated code to truly understand how to build Rails applications from scratch
Learn testing and test-driven development (TDD)
Effectively use the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern
Structure applications using the REST architecture
Build static pages and transform them into dynamic ones
Master the Ruby programming skills all Rails developers need
Create high-quality site layouts and data models
Implement registration and authentication systems, including validation and secure passwords
Update, display, and delete users
Upload images in production using a cloud storage service
Implement account activation and password reset, including sending an email with Rails
Add social features and microblogging, including an introduction to Ajax
Record version changes with Git and creates a secure remote repository at GitHub
The book is divided into fourteen chapters:
Chapter 1 helps you to get started with Development Environment and installing Rails
Chapter 2 guides you to make a Toy App
Chapter 3 talks about Static Pages
Chapter 4 covers Rails-Flavored Ruby
Chapter 5 talks about adding some Structure and Layout Links
Chapter 6 talks about Modeling Users
Chapter 7 covers Sign Up
Chapter 8 talks about Basic Login
Chapter 9 covers Advanced Login
Chapter 10 talks about Updating, Showing and Deleting Users
Chapter 11 covers Account Activation
Chapter 12 talks about Password Reset
Chapter 13 covers User Microposts
Chapter 14 talks about Following Users
The book gives you both theory and practice. If you want to read just one book and feel like a Rails master by the end of it, this book is for you!
2. Best book for completionists: Beginning Rails 6: From Novice to Professional
The goal of this book is to give you a thorough and complete understanding of how to build dynamic web applications with Rails. This means more than just shwoing you how to use the specific features and facilities of the framework, and more than just giving you a working knowledge of the Ruby language. Rails is quite a bit more than just another tool: it represents a way of thinking.
~ Beginning Rails 6
Beginning Rails 6: From Novice to Professional by Brady Somerville, Adam Gamble, and Cloves Carneiro gently guide you through designing your application.
You'll learn about writing tests for the application and then writing the code to make your application work as expected.
The book guides you to have a Rails 6 application built and deployed to the web. After reading the book, you'll be able to:
Create Ruby on Rails 6 web applications from the bottom up
Gain the basics of the Ruby programming language
Combine all the components of Rails to develop your own web applications
Apply TDD to make sure your application works exactly as you expect
Use Git source control and best practice techniques to create applications like a pro
After reading and using this book, you'll have the know-how and the freely available source code to get started with your own Rails-based web development.
3. Best book for step-by-step learners: Agile Web Development with Rails 6
The content in this book has been developed in consultation with the Rails core team. Not only is the code you’ll see in this book tested against each release of Rails, but the converse is also true: Tarils itself is tested agains the code in this book and won’t be released until those tests pass.
~ Agile Web Development with Rails 6, preface
The book starts with a step-by-step walkthrough of building a real application, and in-depth chapters look at the built-in Rails features. The book is divided into three parts and twenty-three chapters.
Part 1: Getting Started
The Architecture of Rails Applications
Introduction to Ruby
Part 2: Building an Application
The Depot Application
Task A: Creating the Application
Task B: Validation and Unit Testing
Task C: Catalog Display
Task D: Cart Creation
Task E: A Smarter Cart
Task F: Add a Dash of Ajax
Task G: Check Out!
Task H: Entering Additional Payment Details excerpt
Task I: Sending Emails and Processing Payments Efficiently
Task J: Logging In
Task K: Internationalization
Task L: Receive Emails and Respond with Rich Text
Part 3: Rails in Depth
Finding Your Way Around Rails excerpt
Action Dispatch and Action Controller
Customizing and Extending Rails
This book is well organized and extremely well written. The content in this book has been developed in consultation with the Rails core team. Get this book without hesitation if you want to learn Rails.
4. Best book for beginners: Rails: Novice to Ninja: Build Your Own Ruby on Rails Website
I love writing and I love Rails, so this opportunity [to write this book] was a no-brainer. Throughout the process, I ahve remembered why Rails is such a paragon of productivity, and I’ve also discovered much I didn’t know about the framework.
~ Rails: Novice to Ninja, preface
Rails: Novice to Ninja is an easy-to-follow, practical, and fun 2016 guide to Ruby on Rails for beginners. The book covers all you need to get up and running a fully-featured web application.
Note that this book covers Rails 5. If you’re using a more recent version, catch up on the major releases.
The book is divided into twelve chapters and includes the following topics:
Chapter 1 gives you an introduction to Ruby on Rails
Chapter 2 guides you to get started
Chapter 3 introduces Ruby
Chapter 4 talks about Rails Revealed
Chapter 5 covers Models, Views, and Controllers
Chapter 6 covers Helpers, Forms, and Layouts
Chapter 7 covers Ajax and Turbolinks
Chapter 8 talks about Protective Measures
Chapter 9 covers some advanced topics
Chapter 10 covers Rails Plugins
Chapter 11 covers Debugging, Testing, and Benchmarking
Chapter 12 covers Deployment and Production Use
As you'll build the app, you'll gain valuable experience in using Rails features such as user authentication, session cookies, and automated testing. The book finishes with chapters on debugging, benchmarking, and deployment to a live web server.
5. Best book for serious learners: Learn Rails 6: Accelerated Web Development with Ruby on Rails
Learn Rails 6: Accelerated Web Development with Ruby on Rails by Adam Notodikromo teaches modern engineering practices including git-flow, containerization, debugging, testing, and deployment. Along the way, you’ll see how to build a social network application and then deploy it on a cloud provider.
After reading the book, you'll be able to:
Use the Ruby on Rails 6 web development framework
Integrate Docker with your Ruby on Rails code
Apply software engineering techniques to learning the Rails framework
Design, build and deploy a social networking application to the Amazon cloud
After using this book, you'll be able to effectively build and deploy your Rails application to the cloud. The book is recommended for beginners with at least some prior programming experience.
6. Best book for front-end developers: Modern Front-End Development for Rails: Hotwire, Stimulus, Turbo, and React
~ Modern Front-End Development for Rails
As a front-end developer myself who has had to work in React, I might seek out this book rather than the others because my job does not require me to be concerned with server-side rendering.
After reading the book, you'll be able to:
Learn the basics of webpack, Webpacker, and TypeScript, and add pizazz to your application.
Structure your web application to best manage your state.
Learn how to interact with data on the server while still keeping the user experience interactive.
Debug and test your front-end application with tools specific to each framework.
This book is divided into four parts and sixteen chapters. The first part talks about the basic introduction to installing the front-end Rails tools. The second part gives a deeper look at TypeScript, webpack, and Webpacker. The third part talks about managing the state of the data in your client-side application. The fourth part is about validating your code.
Part I. Getting Started
Chapter 1 talks about getting started with Client-Side Rails
Chapter 2 covers Hotwire and Turbo
Chapter 3 talks about Stimulus
Chapter 4 covers React
Chapter 5 talks about Cascading Style Sheets
Part II. Going Deeper
Chapter 6 covers TypeScript
Chapter 7 covers webpack
Chapter 8 covers Webpacker
Part III: Managing Servers and State
Chapter 9 guides you about talking to the Server
Chapter 10 covers Immediate Communication with ActionCable
Chapter 11 covers managing state in Stimulus Code
Chapter 12 talks about managing state in React
Chapter 13 talks about using Redux to Manage State
Part IV: Validating Your Code
Chapter 14 talks about validating code with Advanced TypeScript
Chapter 15 discusses testing with Cypress
Chapter 16 talks about more testing and troubleshooting
By the end of the book, you’ll be able to structure your code for different levels of client-side needs.
More Ways to Learn Rails
Books are not enough for you? There are also a few online courses on the list that let you learn Rails. Let's have a look at them:
Codecademy: Learn Ruby on Rails is a 10-hours course in Codecademy. It helps you build 8 full-fledged web applications with Rails.
Go ahead and grab a book or sign up for an online course, and we guarantee that you will reap a big from the skills.