Howto: create a blog with Ruby on Rails


I’m following a course on Coursera about Ruby on Rails, well the course is about Web Architectures but it uses Ruby on Rails to explain it’s uses. So this is a good excuse to experiment with this new language and framework.

It is not the first time that I try to learn RoR; when I completed my university it was in its “momentum” — it was one of the coolest frameworks to play with. Since 2012 things have changed a bit, now NodeJS is the new “new”, but who cares: when you learn something new you should target at the idea, not the execution.

RoR is one of the first frameworks that have speed up web development; with some simple (very simple) commands you can build ugly websites that just work. Then you only have to customize it.

Some advantages of RoR: convention over configuration, so that you don’t have to hassle with stupid details. Usually the defaults are already what you want. RoR is a good tool for Agile development, testing is built-in and the server doesn’t need to restart if you modify something; a good set of generators that generate almost everything for you. Another principle worth of noting is DRY (don’t repeat yourself), so for example you don’t have to write the sql table, if you have the structure of the table written in the entity. You’ll see this below.

And what about disadvantages? You have to learn a new language (Ruby), that outside RoR, is used less than never; there is some kind of “magic” in its generators, so you never know what’s going on; and also Twitter, that has used Ruby in its early stage, has rewritten everything in Java: many have seen this as a problem of scalability. (It seems, however, that the scalability problems did not depend on Ruby itself but on a horizontal scalability issue).

Let’s get our hands dirty

Assuming you have installed Ruby on Rails, here are the steps to produce an “iteration 1” of a blog application:

rails new blog && cd blog

this command creates a new directory named “blog” and then we “cd” into it.

rails generate scaffold post title:string body:text

rails generate scaffold comment post_id:integer body:text

these two lines create the “post” and “comment” entities, as well as all the model, view, controllers, and tests. We specify the actual attributes of the entities on the command line; so for example post has a title  of type string, and a body  of type text. One note about post_id  from the entity comment: it will be linked to the post, but in iteration 2.

rake db:migrate

 rake is a command that will find changes in the model and will update the database accordingly; this follows the DRY principle (I told you!). It will also version your db scripts.

rake routes

rake will create routes to the actual views. All this links are available to use.

rails server

This command will start a server on http://localhost:3000 . You should see a welcome page by ruby on rails. Can’t see it ? Install it correctly !

If the server has started, you can then navigate to the routes outputted by rake routes , so try to go to http://localhost:3000/posts and http://localhost:3000/comments.

I want to point out that we didn’t open any IDE … just the console. 

What can we do with this? quite nothing, for now, but we are still in iteration 1 !

Will we ever get a fully functional blog app? follow us on the next episode and you’ll know!

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