5 Commercial Use Cases Continue to Prove the Value of Ruby on Rails



Ruby on Rails continues to gain popularity as an effective platform for developing web and cloud applications. Today, there are at least 865,472 business websites running on Ruby on Rails, and the number is growing. Ruby on Rails continues to gain momentum partly because it is open source, which means the developer community continues to improve the platform, and also because Ruby on Rails was created to promote “programmer happiness,” which means programmers are more productive and more efficient developing in Ruby on Rails than on other platforms such as .NET and Java.

With those implementations, there are innumerable Ruby on Rails examples that show how effective the framework is for agile software development, shortening web development time, and promoting continual improvement. There also are examples of business-critical applications that you wouldn’t expect to have been created in an open-source environment like Ruby on Rails.

Elegance in Open Source

Ruby’s popularity as a programming language is partly because it is easy to learn, flexible, and forgiving. As a result, developers can spend more time working on application fundamentals and less time worrying about the code underneath the applications—Ruby does most of the heavy lifting. Ruby code is also very readable and tends to be self-documenting, which makes it easy to share and post applications.

Rails is the Ruby framework for web developers. Rails is written in Ruby and emphasizes convention over configuration, i.e., Rails abstracts and simplifies common repetitive tasks. Since Ruby is open source with an active developer community, there is an extensive library of Ruby plug-ins that are ready for use in Rails. This means developers can spend more time actually creating applications and less time configuring files.

Ruby on Rails Examples

Some of the best-known Ruby on Rails examples are well-known online destinations:

  • GitHub: A popular destination for developers, GitHub is used to host IT projects for collaboration, using Git to provide version control. It’s free for open-source projects (with both free and paid repositories for private application development) and has become a popular forum for software engineers to exchange ideas.

  • Basecamp: Of course, business users have the same collaborative needs as developers, which is why there are online business apps like Basecamp written using Ruby on Rails. Basecamp was launched by founder and CTO David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails, so some of the new features in Rails are extracted from Basecamp. Basecamp simplifies project management, providing an easy-to-use online environment where collaborators can chat, share files, create checklists, create workflows, and track project progress. Ruby on Rails features make it easy to delegate tasks, manage schedules, handle documents, organize team members, and so on.

  • Airbnb: Airbnb has become one of the most popular websites for travelers seeking accommodations. Airbnb lists more than 65,000 locations in 191 countries and matches property owners with tourists. Ruby on Rails makes Airbnb run, since the site has to be continually updated with new listings and more sophisticated applications for search, transactions, and fraud detection. Ruby on Rails gives Airbnb developers agility and scalability.

Ruby on Rails in Unexpected Places

In addition to supporting online collaboration and productivity, Ruby on Rails supports a number of e-commerce locations where reliability and performance are essential. Here are just a few Ruby on Rails examples that demonstrate the power of open source in unexpected places:

  1. Bloomberg: One of the world’s foremost destinations for financial and business news runs on Ruby on Rails. Bloomberg provides ongoing data, such as stock information, video content, searchable news, analytics, and more, and uses open source to power the online news site.

  1. Zendesk: Zendesk provides the developer with tools that their customers need to create their own unique customer relationship management (CRM) applications. The platform is built entirely on Ruby on Rails and gives Zendesk users the building blocks they need to create custom CRM solutions.

  1. Taskrabbit: Taskrabbit is an innovative service that matches people who need work done with people qualified to help. As a Ruby on Rails environment, this is an interesting web application because of the multiple steps required—describing a task, extrapolating the request for a match with a Tasker, scheduling, and payment. The Taskrabbit engineering team is very active on GitHub and continually develops new Ruby on Rails applications. For example, Taskrabbit engineers have developed a voice-enabled app for Amazon’s Alexa.

  1. Craftsy: The developer team at Craftsy found that with more than 23 million users, their small agile development platform wasn’t able to keep up; the code base was just too big to effectively manage and update. Rather than trying to change its software framework one piece at a time, the team was able to rewrite the entire code base as a single project using Ruby on Rails.

  2. Hulu – Hulu has been an aggressive competitor in the online video market. Where the bigger players such as Netflix have a broader range of content, Hulu tends to gain access to the latest movies and cable television shows faster, making them available free to consumers. To remain nimble and keep pace with changes in the video market, Rails seemed the right platform. In fact, Hulu made the bold move of starting with Ruby on Rails and the site has been growing ever since. Thanks to Rails, Hulu can maintain a large library of content that is easy to navigate across platforms.

These are just five Ruby on Rails examples that show what open source can do, and there are countless others. The power and versatility of Ruby on Rails is demonstrated every day in web applications for e-commerce, retail, finance, research, and a host of other applications. Ruby on Rails continues to prove itself to be adaptable and robust for almost any type of application, and coding updates and improvements are relatively simple to implement.

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Christopher Rigor

Christopher Rigor is a Senior Technical Evangelist at Engine Yard. He’s a long time Rails user, system administrator, and recently became a contributor of RailsInstaller. Previously, he was the DevOps Support Manager for Asia-Pacific at Engine Yard.
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