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Ruby on Rails for Developers

This course teaches experienced developers Ruby and Ruby-on-Rails. It's designed to be taught by a practicing rubyist and a teaching assistant. Both individuals must have expert understanding of Ruby, Rack and Ruby-on-Rails. The ideal class size is 12-15 students, each having prior application development track record. The lesson plan is conceived as 12 two-hour lectures with homework given after each of the first 6 courses. Assignments are tracked in Pivotal Tracker. Subsequent 6 lectures alternate class material with coding. The course ends with 8 hours of building a final project for obtaining certification.

Class Material

We start by introducing students to the Ruby development environment and show elementary Ruby code. Students also learn how to use Git and exercise the development workflow via Github, including pull requests and topic branches. We dive into Ruby basics and conclude with object-oriented features, mixins and exception handling.

After the class gains enough familiarity with the language features, we teach Rack, an essential foundation of any solid Ruby-on-Rails knowledge. The instructor builds a basic web application that serves static files from the file system with Rack. A Rails application is then assembled from scratch without the use of Rails generators. Tests are written with the default unit test infrastructure, and once again using behavior-driven development with RSpec. The application is deployed on Heroku.

We step aside to teach Ruby meta-programming before lecturing on ActiveRecord, ERB, HAML and SASS. The instructor then builds authentication without using an off-the-shelf library. This combination of technologies gives the students the necessary tools to build a complete project, which is typically introduced around the 6th lecture. When this material was developed we asked the students to build a Ruby-on-Rails clone of the popular Stashboard application.

Final lectures include RESTful APIs with Rails and Grape, an introduction to NoSQL databases with MongoDB. We also recommend you offer students an opportunity to revisit any topic that was insufficiently clear or lecture on a topic that they are curious about.



This course is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. It may be reused and adapted for non-commercial purposes. Please contact Matthew Owens at for commercial licensing.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License


This course has been produced in partnership with Pivotal Labs and Engine Yard.




(c) 2012, Daniel Doubrovkine and contributors.