The Art of Rails - Review of the Best Rails Book


I read this book a couple of months ago but wanted to get a review out before year end. Why this book review, the first on this blog? Because I find The Art of Rails to be the best book on Rails for developers moving from a beginner to a more advanced level, and I want to wholeheartedly recommend it.

Once you’re done with the “big two” (Agile Dev with Rails and The Rails Way) you will have nice first set of “hows” (The Rails Way is supposed to to be used as a developer’s reference book). But you’ll be yearning to learn more about the “whys” of Ruby and Rails.
And this is what The Art of Rails is a about: A birdseye view of web development in general, its challenges and failures in its first ten years, and the answers that Ruby and Rails offers to meet these challenges.

The book is extremely well written, stylistically easily the best tech book I’ve ever read. Frankly, for the most part I’m not too keen on David Thomas’ colloquial, mushy style. Edward Benson is a talented writer who drives the “story” forward with every sentence, even creating suspense and inserting a little science-fiction side story to get the point across.

The code samples are always well chosen and lucid, no pickaxe jukebox here. All the important web development technologies (AJAX, REST, BDD etc.) are presented in a structured and analytical way, always focussing on the “whys”, painted on a thick canvas of author’s rich background knowledge. And the chapters on Ruby introduce you to its magic as it’s most relevant to Rails developers – by delving into blocks and procs and continuing to mixins and monkey patching. As web development moves from hackery to art form, The Art of Rails is a great companion for the striving Web Artiste. If you’re a Rails developer, put this book on your to-do-list for the New Year, and may it be a Happy one for all!

Posted: 30 December 2008

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