Noobie Questions

Hi, I am former Visual Basic developer who’s been resting on his
laurels for a while. And now finding that in order to work must learn
a new technology.

RoR looks like a great tool set to learn. And, finally, after many
years in a ms environment am excited to work in a clean and fresh

Just ordered some Ruby/Rails books - as recommended on various
websites. Joined this list (obviously) and prepped my Mac.

I’d like to learn by making an app that’s interested me for a while.
Possibly spending a couple or more months over it.

Has anyone on the list got anything to share about their own
experiences of getting to know their way around RoR? Particularly
interested to hear about which resources / tools you use, and how you
did your learning - working through or dipping into a book. Stuff that
was particularly hard to get your head around.

Basically looking for tips and things to think about.

Thanks! And if there’s an FAQ I should be reading, please point me

Hi Toby,

As a long-time Access (and other RDBMS’s that aren’t relevant here)
programmer, the most helpful thing I found was the explanation of
Object/Relational Mapping on p.17 of the Agile Web D. with
Rails book. In fact that whole book gave me a much more grounded feel
than the various tutorials I waded through before it. I have the 1st
edition; the 2nd edition is due out soon but you can buy the beta in pdf
format now. The first edition was riddled with errata and its pragprog
errata page became my constant companion for awhile.

But among the tutorials, my favorite was Rails4Days, which creates an
app of some substance and does give some background explanation but
obviously not as much as a book can. The problem with the tutorials in
general was that either they are dead simple and you can’t scale up from
them or they cover some substantive stuff but it’s all supplied as long
tomes of code that you paste into your tutorial app and voila! See how

Here are some beginning links I found useful:
(preconfigured stack with Apache and MySQL) (Eclipse-based IDE for Rails)

I found more Rails tutorials out there later which may be helpful but I
haven’t personally used them. Let’s see what other responses you get
from folks who have.

Ruby: (new tool from
Google that you can use to search for Ruby (or other languages) code on
the web) (Programming Ruby book) (Ruby home page)

You will also have to learn some HTML (easy) and CSS (easy if you’re
doing something simple, but can get very complex if you need, say,
cross-browser capability or have accessibility issues or specific
formatting requirements). (30-day free trial with
a REALLY good tutorial) (CSS issues archive)

Hope this helps,


Thanks so much for all that info.

“Agile Web D. with Rails” is one of the books on order. I
have a PDF version, but find it much, much easier to use a hard copy.

Do you use RadRadails? I’ve been playing around with TextMate, but
would prefer to use a more enhanced IDE, so am looking at RadRails.

Lots of reading to do!


hi shauna

i use radrails for editing and instantrails for the http and mysql

if you like textmate, syntax highlighting and line numbers there is a
textmate skin for radrails which do it

On 10/25/06, Shauna [email protected] wrote:

numbers so debugging is awfully hard!
unmoor and float most of them, but not the editor (the one window where
have them…

Heri R.

I have been using RadRails but only in a limited way, limited for two

  1. I’ve had problems getting its server to run consistently in my
    environment (Windows 2000 and I don’t know what other details might be
    relevant, but that alone is different from your setup).

  2. Its editor has nice syntax highlighting but it doesn’t include line
    numbers so debugging is awfully hard!

Instead I use a commercial editor (EditPlus) that has almost all the
highlighting (it already does CSS and HTML and I set rhtml the same as
HTML), and many of the keywords in .rb files are highlighted anyway.
I’ve read a lot of recommendations on this list for TextMate for the Mac

  • just do a Search of this forum for editors on the Mac. I sometimes use
    RadRails to view a .rb file in a separate window from my editor.

A thing that bothers me about an IDE is that the windows are fixed in
place (including a tiny browser window). I think in RadRails you can
unmoor and float most of them, but not the editor (the one window where
you might want to have separate windows for different files you’re
editing, say a related set of controller, view and partial). So
sometimes I use RadRails to edit the .rb file with its special
highlighting and EditPlus for the rest. But keeping them separate gets
to be a pain and I revert to just using EditPlus and InstantRails’s
console windows. I do use InstantRails and have been happy with that,
but it defaults to MySQL which has a few quirks.

I suggest you try out RadRails and see if it works for you. It will be
awhile before you get to needing the line numbers and by then it might
have them…
Somewhere on the web I saw that a Mac equivalent of InstantRails is

Happy trails,

Hi Toby,

Welcome to Rails! As a VB guy, you might find my blog helpful, aimed
for people like you and me that used to use VB or C# (or like me, still
do for their day job :slight_smile: Use the Search box at the top to search for
topics, because unfortunately we lost our categorization when we moved
to a new server last week. I would recommend our series of articles
titled “Why Rails” which explains why we as Microsoft developers became
enamored with Rails instead.

Anyway, For IDEs, RadRails is worth a try, but I also suggest RideMe
(, or even Scite, which comes with the Ruby
one-click installer that you probably already used to get Ruby on your

And definitely be familiar with the official Wiki
( which can help save you some time,


RadRails does support line numbers:

Window -> Preferences -> General -> Text Editors -> ‘show line

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