I'm an experienced developer with .NET, and understand core computing concepts well (OOP, design patterns, etc) but would like to also learn rails.

Is there a book out there that's the de-facto standard for describing best practices, design methodologies, and other helpful information on Ruby on Rails? What about that book makes it special?

  • Do you know Ruby? As I understand Rails is a framework for Ruby, similar as Zend is a framework to PHP. Although, I may be completely wrong ;) If that is true, then I'd say probably look into some Ruby books first, perhaps someone here could recommend a good one. Unless people learn Ruby and Rails hand in hand...
    – Josh
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 15:00
  • 2
    I had zero knowledge of Ruby before I started creating a Rails website. Ruby is so natural and intuitive that there's scarcely any point in studying it in isolation. Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 15:17
  • Sandi Metz has a book on how OOP is done in Ruby/Rails which is a must read - Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby (www.poodr.com) Commented May 7, 2018 at 11:27

6 Answers 6


Agile Web Development with Rails will bring you up to speed at a relatively rapid pace.

For learning the ins and outs of the Ruby language itself, I found Programming Ruby 1.9 helpful.

Between those two books you'll know what you need to know to get going.

If you are looking for free and online, Ruby on Rails Tutorial isn't bad at all.

  • Agile Web Development is exactly what I was going to recommend. It was the only reference that I used (aside from the web, obviously) when I was creating a web site in Rails. Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 15:18
  • +1, agile web development is the book to read on this topic, since it is co-authored by DHH (who wrote Rails). Start there to get a solid foundation. Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 15:32
  • You will probably want to start off with Rails 3.0, so make sure you get the right edition of any book on rails.
    – Astra
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 16:53
  • @Redbeard 0x0A - the 4th Edition of Agile Web Development, which I linked, is the Rails 3.0 edition.
    – justkt
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 17:11
  • Also having experience with .NET, I started Rails and read about 5 books. Agile Web Development is the best. The other great resource is StackOverflow.
    – B Seven
    Commented Oct 1, 2011 at 23:59

Once you've grasped the basics of creating web applications with Rails and are looking for further reading, I highly recommend you check out both the RSpec Book and The Well-Grounded Rubyist.

The former gives a great overview of behaviour-driven development with an eye to Rails, and is worth reading because the Ruby community has a strong emphasis on testing and most people are using the tools described in the RSpec book.

The latter is the best book out there for getting into a Ruby mindset and developing your knowledge of the language from 'the pretty guts behind Rails' to understanding both the guts and the ethos of the language, which approaches many things with a very different perspective from C# and similar languages.


I recommend the online Rails Tutorial book.

I also have a copy of Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers and it's been pretty helpful in providing an overview of Rails, drawing parallels with ASP.NET, and giving a good introduction to web development in general.


I would recommend The Rails 3 Way by Obie Fernandez if you're really interested in learning Rails in depth, and learn how the 'magic' happens behind the scenes.

If you'd like the learn just for the sake of it or create a simple app, Agile Web Development with Rails by Sam Ruby, Dave Thomas & David Heinemeier Hansson should work out just fine.


I found the Head First book on Rails to be very useful. I come from a .NET background as well and I was able to follow the book with very little knowledge of Ruby and no knowledge of Rails.



I would recommend The Rails 3 Way. I cannot say enough good things about it. It covers every part of Rails, including many of the essential gems you need to know about. And it works both as a read for a beginner and a reference guide for the intermediate Rails developer.

If you're feeling flush, I would also throw in The RSpec Book, for a good grounding in how to write in a BDD way, which I personally think is a near-essential for Rails devs.

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