Rails is a web-application framework that includes everything needed to create database-backed web applications according to the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern.
Understanding the MVC pattern is key to understanding Rails. MVC divides your application into three layers, each with a specific responsibility.
The Model layer represents your domain model (such as Account, Product,
Person, Post, etc.) and encapsulates the business logic that is specific to
your application. In Rails, database-backed model classes are derived from
ActiveRecord::Base. Active Record allows you to present the data from
database rows as objects and embellish these data objects with business logic
methods. Although most Rails models are backed by a database, models can also
be ordinary Ruby classes, or Ruby classes that implement a set of interfaces
as provided by the Active Model module. You can read more about Active Record
in its README.
The Controller layer is responsible for handling incoming HTTP requests and
providing a suitable response. Usually this means returning HTML, but Rails controllers
can also generate XML, JSON, PDFs, mobile-specific views, and more. Controllers load and
manipulate models, and render view templates in order to generate the appropriate HTTP response.
In Rails, incoming requests are routed by Action Dispatch to an appropriate controller, and
controller classes are derived from
ActionController::Base. Action Dispatch and Action Controller
are bundled together in Action Pack. You can read more about Action Pack in its
The View layer is composed of "templates" that are responsible for providing appropriate representations of your application's resources. Templates can come in a variety of formats, but most view templates are HTML with embedded Ruby code (ERB files). Views are typically rendered to generate a controller response, or to generate the body of an email. In Rails, View generation is handled by Action View. You can read more about Action View in its README.
Active Record, Action Pack, and Action View can each be used independently outside Rails. In addition to them, Rails also comes with Action Mailer (README), a library to generate and send emails; and Active Support (README), a collection of utility classes and standard library extensions that are useful for Rails, and may also be used independently outside Rails.
Install Rails at the command prompt if you haven't yet:
gem install rails
At the command prompt, create a new Rails application:
rails new myapp
where "myapp" is the application name.
Change directory to
myappand start the web server:
cd myapp rails server
Using a browser, go to http://localhost:3000 and you'll see: "Welcome aboard: You're riding Ruby on Rails!"
Follow the guidelines to start developing your application. You may find the following resources handy:
Ruby on Rails is released under the MIT License.