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Ruby on Rails combines the simplicity and versatility of the Ruby programming language with Rails, a framework designed to give programmers a quick and easy method for building and deploying online applications.

While most hosts provide basic support for Ruby on Rails, some hosting companies specialize in it.

What Is Ruby on Rails?

As technology has evolved, so, too, have customer expectations. A company whose website is devoid of now-ubiquitous features like real-time customer service, customer account management, and online ordering may soon find itself devoid of online customers.

In the past, it was difficult to keep up with that kind of constantly-changing information enough to make it readily accessible to customers. But the technology to automate those processes and provide live data is more accessible now than ever, and one of the best ways to do so is by using Ruby on Rails to build web applications.

Ruby on Rails (or just "Rails") is not a programming language, but a web application framework. Rails is written in Ruby, a general-purpose programming language. Ruby was created in the mid-1990s to be a more streamlined, easy-to-use scripting language as an alternative to other languages like Perl or Python. Its creator, Yukihiro Matsumoto, intended Ruby to be not only productive but fun, and to help its users "to enjoy programming, and to be happy."

The Rails framework was created in 2003 by David Heinemeier Hansson to allow website owners to easily create applications optimized for ecommerce, social media, and more.

Why Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails is a free, open-source framework with extensive documentation and a passionate and helpful community. It’s used by scores of popular websites in a variety of applications: Discount sites LivingSocial and Groupon, project management giant Basecamp, and even social media titan Twitter all rely on Ruby on Rails to create and manage content for their websites.

The framework provided by Rails allows for applications created in Ruby to interface not only with software on the server, but other network applications and users accessing content on the site itself. Twitter, for example, created a Rails-driven queuing system, Starling, to sort and organize incoming tweets in real time (the company has since moved its queue and other "middleware" tasks to Scala, but continues to rely on Ruby on Rails for front-end updates).

Groupon and LivingSocial use Ruby on Rails as part of their messaging systems as well; applications designed to track orders, process shipments and send out daily updates to millions of customers are all handled by the framework. The customer service app Get Satisfaction also chose Ruby on Rails to build their app, which almost 50,000 businesses now use to build their online communities.

Why did they choose Ruby on Rails over other programming languages? While many dynamic websites use PHP, it’s often better suited for more simple, basic websites such as blogs. If you need to build a more robust website or web-based application that accesses a database, Ruby on Rails can be a more effective solution.

Ruby on Rails has become popular among web startups because it’s efficient and concise, which enables programmers to build web applications much faster. Its speed and efficiency also make it ideal for prototyping web apps to identity issues before development.

Selecting Ruby on Rails Hosting

Because of Ruby on Rails popularity, many general web hosting companies provide support for Ruby on Rails as part of their standard hosting packages.

However, if your site requires dedicated support for application development/deployment, you can readily find it, since hosts specializing in Ruby on Rails hosting remain popular. Ruby on Rails hosts may optimize their servers to run it more efficiently, provide pre-installed features, continuously update to the latest version, and provide expert support. Some, like Site5, have positioned themselves as the "ultimate" in Ruby on Rails hosting by building and deploying their own network and server management systems using the framework, including a Ruby on Rails-driven billing system and customer account manager.

For hosts specializing in Ruby on Rails, pricing is consistent with traditional hosting, with basic hosting starting at $5 a month and "high end" packages coming in at around $20 a month. When Ruby on Rails is an included feature, it generally does not impact the price of service, but as always, check with your host for details.

Ruby on Rails Frequently Asked Questions

Our Latest Blog Posts On Ruby on Rails

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