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Is there a canonical book on Ruby on Rails?

I've found switching from Java to Ruby/Rails to be very difficult.

I feel like the rails books and websites that I've seen are program by example, and I have yet to see anything like a complete reference. In the java/spring world there is plenty of examples but also very thorough reference manuals. So even though I can get toy application xyz up and running in an afternoon with rails I'm apprehensive about doing anything of significance.

I'm willing to admit that maybe this is because I've done java/spring for a few years and have near zero experience with ruby/rails. Just wondering if anyone else has run into this or if I'm missing something.

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marked as duplicate by Mark Trapp Dec 17 '11 at 6:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

What's the question here? –  Rein Henrichs Jun 26 '11 at 18:53
Sounds like the question is "Is there a good reference manual for ruby/rails?" –  TomHarrigan Jun 26 '11 at 18:58
@Tom that was added by Robert after my comment. –  Rein Henrichs Jun 26 '11 at 19:34
I've used railsapi.com myself. Is that the kind of thing you're looking for? –  pthesis Jun 26 '11 at 21:36
This one by Michael Hartl is the best in my opinion. ruby.railstutorial.org –  brayne Jun 27 '11 at 6:16

3 Answers 3

whats wrong with the projects documentation? Seems complete enough. I worked several years with Rails and never needed anything additional. Same goes for Ruby.

Though I agree, that most tutorials concentrate too much on the 'Rails App in 5 minutes' aspect.

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I want something like 'official' language reference, not quick tutorial or books... –  Limbo Peng Aug 30 '12 at 11:45

If you're looking for something beyond API documentation, Rails Guides provides nicely laid out overviews of Rails' main features, with plenty of examples.

Railscasts has tons and tons of step-by-step screencasts highlighting many of the deeper features of Rails, as well as covers third-party libraries.

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The culture of Rails is program by example, because they want you to understand the happy path first. That's why you start out by generating a "working", if essentially do-nothing, Rails application, every time you do rails new MyApp.

If you do things "the Rails way", the idea is that most typical business problems are applications of the happy path. You may not remember this, but starting from the API docs in Java was not the best way to get started either, because you had to guess what you needed to know. So you probably started from some books and tutorials and spent a lot of frustrated nights trying to make sense of what was considered idiomatic.

When you have a problem for which the happy path creates unneeded friction, the Ruby On Rails documentation at http://api.rubyonrails.org/ will help you with what you need. However, the conventions in Ruby documentation are different than Java's, so it will take some time and effort to adjust to the format of this kind of documentation. On the upside, most of the time the contributors have written excellent introductory topics on the modules and classes that are really core to understanding Rails, and those are inline with the documentation. If you don't get something, chances are that you are either looking at the wrong part of the documentation. If the documentation is still confusing, step back and figure out whether the issue is that you don't understand something about how Ruby works (and there are excellent books on that), or whether it's something unique to Rails, and try to attack that problem first.

Ruby for Rails (now a bit dated) and The Well Grounded Rubyist will help you understand Ruby better. The Rails Way is deeper than the Program-by-example approach in Agile Web Development with Ruby on Rails, and moves from quick dives into each of the major components of Rails into deeper reference material on Rails (and is reasonably up-to-date as of this writing).

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