Ruby on Rails for Startups: Birds of a Feather

7 mins |

Being in a startup means a lot these days. It’s trendy, modern, and very popular. Startups are everywhere: in media, on TV, and on the Internet. The majority of startups are working in various spheres of the IT environment, so no wonder they tend to use present-day technology and a lot of them are using the Ruby on Rails framework. Sure enough, we won’t say it’s the most popular framework, but it’s in the top 3 definitely.

As of today, there are 852,034 websites using RoR on the entire web.

number of websites using Ruby on Rails

So what is the reason behind its popularity?

If to answer the question without getting into details, the answer would be “because it’s convenient as could be”. In fact, various startups in many major cities where the startup scene is blooming (New York, Chicago, or San-Fransisco) can prove that statement. And not solely startups. Well-established and famous businesses like Scribd, Github, SlideShare, Crunchbase, Zendesk, and Basecamp use it as well.

So it’s fair to conclude that there won’t be any evidence of the shortage of using Ruby in the near future. What is convenience in our case? The spread of Ruby on Rails among startups is huge mostly for the following reasons:

  • it allows rapid development within budget;
  • it has a strong ecosystem;
  • and it’s highly compatible with it;
  • finally, it is an identifier of startup culture

But if to keep the long story short, Ruby on Rails is a popular choice due to the main feature of Rails – it speeds up start-ups to market.

After all, it’s just in the core of startups. They need to be the first among competitors and they need to iterate (“iteration” – a general process through which a startup goes from the initial version of the product to fully-featured and polished) fast. Everything else is important but secondary. All the technical problems can be solved. In case you need it, you can even migrate parts of your app to a different stack. But you can’t wait for too long to present your product to the market.

It’s just the right tool to develop an MVP. When a young company – a startup in most cases – is going to release an MVP, it is interested to complete this task with less effort and enhanced cost-efficiency. Ruby on Rails meets both of these requirements, which makes it a perfect option for companies that just get ready to make their project ideas real. Such companies don’t want to spend their limited budgets and human/time resources on various needs which will inevitably emerge in the long-term development.

If to describe the technical aspect, it’s because Rails is essentially an “everything’s included” full-stack framework that helps a startup focus on building a business and not on building technology infrastructure. Outside of Rails and Django, you’re left to make a lot of decisions to get the same level of functionality before you can start building even an MVP.

Here’s what you get out of the box with Rails:

  • database schema management via Rails migrations which work great with mature RBMSs like Postgres and MySQL;
  • a solid ORM (ActiveRecord) which makes CRUD super easy and intuitive;
  • an active community with lots of open source libraries (gem) to do just about anything you want;
  • highly productive ways to work with the frontend (CoffeeScript) and backend (routing, controllers, active_record, etc);
  • great documentation and ecosystem around it.

Instead of resources to learn from, Ruby on Rails has a whole bunch of useful tools to work with. Just to mention those most popular like Heroku or Engineyard. Ruby on Rails also means more than 50.000 gems (plugins) that you can add to your application.

Security is also a great concern too. It was always a very important thing in the world of Ruby. There is a lot of dedicated features implemented directly into the Ruby on Rails framework and they are enabled by default. Also, there are a lot of security plugins that you can easily implement in your code. Thanks to the large community all of them are up-to-date and with the latest security upgrades.

Ruby on Rails is also a darling among designers. It works just fine with tools like Compass and Sass, that is why most designers know how to work in a Rails environment. If any other framework were being used, the designers would probably need to be given onboarding training. Since most startups usually prefer to engage designers on a consulting basis, they would obviously want the interaction to be as smooth and quick as possible and Rails helps greatly there.

And surely…

…It is cost-effective.

Money is a serious topic for startupers. So this advantage is highly important. Ruby on Rails is an open-source framework distributed under the MIT license, which means you don’t have to spend money on the framework itself. Gems let to add features without developing them from scratch so it can save plenty of developer time and effort, too. You can find gems for any purpose and download them for free from GitHub, a platform where developers share open-source code.

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