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Rails up and Running by Bruce A.Tate, Curt Hibbs

Book Review Team
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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 944
<pre>Author/s : Bruce A.Tate, Curt Hibbs
Publisher : O'Reilly
Category : Other
Review by : Johannes de Jong
Rating : 7 horseshoes
</pre>
I'm in two minds about this book, but one thing I know for sure; I wish that this book was around when I started off on my Rails journey, minus the mistakes and the bad representation though!

Bruce and Curt take you from a very fast paced intro to a fairly complete and professional photo sharing application. Personally I will go back to this application when I want to experiment with Rails/Ruby.

They describe the Active record, the corner stone of Rails, adequately and after working through chapters 2 and 3 you should have a fair grasp of the how rails implements the active record pattern. I especially liked their use of the ruby console to show the reader how certain things work. I personally feel that too few Rails programmers use the power of the console to experiment with Ruby, remember you learn by experimentation.

They then go ahead and show how you can build a quick and dirty interface with the "controversial" scaffolding around the database you created in chapters 2 and 3. This where Rails shines for me; as scaffolding allows you to get something up and running fast. Their coverage of this subject is more than adequate.

In chapter 5 Bruce and Curt take the rough-and-dirty generated Rails application and turn into a pretty professional looking application using style sheets. Nothing new here but it shows you where and how you do it under/in Rails.

Chapter 6 uses the power of Ajax to add the icing on the cake for the photo application. A great intro as to how Ajax is implemented/used under Rails.

Chapter 7 describes the automated testing functionality in Rails and this for me was the chapter I benefited the most from. I'm a mainframe programmer that has taken up Rails, and Ruby with it, as a hobby and this automated testing is foreign to me. So this book has shown me how to test the right way in/under Rails.

The book ends with a summary and pointers to where more information can be found. Basically the appendix is one large cheat sheet of Rails that can come in handy as your Rails knowledge grows.

Personally I think that the books formatting SHOULD be improved, for instance it should be made much clearer to the reader when he has to do something and boy the reviewers, editor(s), whoever deserves the blame, must be shot for allowing so many typos to slip through.

In the beginning I said I was in two minds about this book, basically this is because I'm not sure if I should recommend this book.

On the one side I feel this book is worth purchasing. I really do feel, even with the typos and faults, that with hard work and care you will learn what Rails is all about and that this book will give you a solid foundation to get you started on your Rails, and Ruby, journey.

On the other side I feel that as a paying customer you deserve better, there is nothing more frustrating than learning something new and the tutorial you use to learn it is full of mistakes.


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Book Review Team
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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 944
<pre>Category : Other
Review by : Michael Ernest
Rating : 7 horseshoes
</pre>
This is indeed a fast-paced book designed for experienced developers. Using it, I was able to build the Photo Share project it covers rather quickly. I got a good overview of how Rails works, too.

But while I appreciate the end result, I wasn't always so sure what I did or why I did it. The introduction of concepts is *so* fast and terse that I found it hard to connect concepts to practice. The section on Rails Strengths, on pp. 2-3, could certainly have been stronger on this point. Still, the points the authors wanted to make about the power of the Rails environment was unmistakable.

I disagree with the premise of the book about its intended audience. Web-oriented programmers are certainly ideal for this book; other programmers are going to struggle. A great deal of conceptual background is taken for granted. Because Rails make so many understood connections between components, it's worth a few more pictures and diagrams to illustrate those relationships. The many diagrams on data table structure were not as helpful to me.

There are errata that can be quite annoying if you are following along carefully. Mis-stated filenames crop up now and then. In a few cases I followed the book exactly and lost a bit of functionality. The book does not advise on error paths or what to do when something goes wrong, so if you're not making file backups or otherwise tracking your changes, you'll go down a rat-hole or two.

On the whole, the book has a feel of being a bit rushed and breathless, rather than merely short in form. This means going over the material several times. Often I found a key piece of information buried in a paragraph when a bullet point would have made it easier to spot. I know people are bullet-shy these days, but when you're writing real information as opposed to concepts, listing it out is helpful.

My review copy came free, so I can't complain about price. That said, I wouldn't buy this book at the price it wants.


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Johannes de Jong
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Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
<pre>Category : Other
Review by : Marc Peabody
Rating : 6 horseshoes
</pre>
Up and Running starts out as a decent overview of Ruby on Rails, but more and more the book turns into a shallow repetition of: �Add this huge block of code� Doesn�t that look better?� At that point, you�ll still occassionally trip across random information, but I can only describe most of those tidbits as orphans of when this tiny manual aspired to be something bigger and more comprehensive.

There are too many labs to learn much without your computer and there�s too much non-interactive material to enjoy the book as a pure lab. The non-lab material isn�t cleanly separated from the labs, so you can�t give your brain much preparation for when to focus on your computer and when to focus on the book.

A little more organization would have made Up and Running a great book.


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subject: Rails up and Running by Bruce A.Tate, Curt Hibbs