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Agile Web Development with Rails (First Edition)

This book, from the Pragmatic Bookshelf, is an introduction to Ruby on Rails. Rails is a popular open source web framework that allows you to create sophisticated web applications with minimal code --- and no verbose configuration files or XML.

The book is in four parts: part one gets you up and running, telling you everything you need to know to get started (including the gotchas and pitfalls you're likely to encounter on MacOS X, the platform I was using); part two builds a simple shopping application covering every stage of Rails application development; part three goes into more detail about the Rails framework and is a useful reference; finally part four covers security and the deployment of your application. There are also appendices, most usefully including a brief introduction to the Ruby programming language for those who, like me, have good programming experience in various languages but little knowledge of Ruby itself.

Overall, I liked this book a lot. Despite not being a big fan of Ruby or dynamic languages in general (and this is not the time or place to go into that!) I began reading with an open mind, and having read it I would feel comfortable developing buzzword compliant Web 2.0 applications with Rails. As is now to be expected of books by the Pragmatic Programmers, the technical presentation is clear and easy to read, with a dash of humour --- if you're interested in learning about Ruby on Rails, this book is for you.

A second edition will soon be available, completely updated and overhauled and, so the publishers say, containing another year's worth of Rails best practices. Write to Santa Claus and ask for it in your Christmas stocking.

Score: 9 out of 10

Edwin Brady

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