How I became fond of Ruby on Rails (as a JavaScript developer)

At the beginning of this year I joined ePages as a software engineer with focus on Ruby on Rails, although I worked with Angular before. When I first got the opportunity to work as a Ruby developer at ePages, the decision was not easy for me to make. But at the end I took the chance. I like new challenges and to learn new things, and it felt like a great opportunity. In this post I’d like to share some insights with you on how I got started with Rails.

Learning Rails

In order to learn Rails I started with the famous Rails tutorial of Michael Hartl. During 3 weeks I was reading and trying it at the same time that I was doing the exercises. It’s amazing how fast things can be done in Rails! When I was done with the tutorial, I started to do pair programming with my teammate right away. He gave me insights on the different projects and cleared away my doubts about Ruby. Shortly after that, I started with my own tasks, and applied what I learned in the tutorial.

Discovering similarities and differences

While I was doing the tutorial, I recognized similarities between Rails and other languages I have worked with or that I’ve seen before, such as Symfony. This way, I was able to associate concepts of Rails with these other languages. But every language is different, and JavaScript and Ruby are no exception. I still wonder how I would do things in JavaScript and then I search for an equivalent in Ruby.

Here are some syntax differences I figured out for Ruby:

  • It’s not necessary to type parenthesis in order to send parameters in a function.
  • The different usage of foreach in Ruby
(0..5).each do |i|
   puts "Value of local variable is #{i}"

and in Javascript

[0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5].foreach((i) => {
  console.log(`Value of local variable is ${i}`)
  • You don’t have to declare variables.
  • Unlike in Javascript and other languages, you don’t have to type return to give back data, as the result of the last line of code is always returned:
def sum(num1, num2)
  num1 + num2

result = sum 5, 6

As a comparison, here’s what to do in Javascript:

function sum(num1, num2) {
  return num1 + num2;

let result = sum(5, 6);

It’s magic

When a friend of mine told me about Rails, he mentioned the word magic. Today I finally understand why. Here are some reasons:

  • ActiveRecord: I remember that in my last job it was difficult to make Symfony work with Oracle. When I saw ActiveRecord, the first thing I did was searching for information about Rails. It looks like there’s no problem to integrate Rails and Oracle.
  • Conventions: Rails is one of those frameworks that follows the rule “Convention Over Configuration” which can result in writing empty methods like the following:
class UsersController < ApplicationController
  def index

In these cases, Rails automatically tries to render a file named index.* inside of a folder called users/.

I’m sure there’s more. But this is only a first reflection of someone who left his comfort zone. For me, there’s still room for improvement and further learnings, both in JavaScript and Ruby, but that’s another story.

About the author

German San Emeterio is a JavaScript Developer who is now into Ruby on Rails. He is fond of video games, and mangas, as well as loves to learn new technologies.