Learning Rails 3 by Simon St. Laurent, Edd Dumbill, and Eric J Gruber (O’Reilly Media) is a great opening guide for developers that are new to Ruby on Rails development. The book does assume some basic background from the reader (as stated in the preface). The reader should know HTML development (not just HTML via WYSIWYG tools) along with Ruby in order to truly understand the concepts that are being presented in this book. The authors provide an Appendix to help in the Ruby ramp up. Finally, a background in how programming is done generally will help the reader understand the concepts being presented.
Like all technology books, the authors had to write the title to the version of Rails that was available at the time. However, I feel that the authors have provided a solid foundation to the reader that can support the independent advancement of the reader as they iterate through newer versions of the technology. The authors also provide warnings about potential problems and confusions the readers may experience. Too few authors are willing to commit to these types of warnings and I appreciate those that do provide them. After all, no technology is perfect in all ways.
While the Model View Controller (MVC) specialist in me kept screaming about some of the early conversations in the book, the authors actually found ways to meet the fundamentals of MVC while making sure that the concepts provided were maintainable and manageable. I don’t fault them for their approach since the flow of the book actually results in the developer meeting those fundamentals as they progress through the book. In fact, it was actually refreshing to see the MVC concepts being explained in a way that would reach all developers – not just the purists.
Overall, I recommend this book to the type of reader described above. As the authors state in their preface, you will not be a Rails guru after reading it; but you be a lot closer towards it than you were before this book was read.
Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book as part of the O’Reilly Blogger Program