So you have an amazing idea for your startup, but your product requires that you create a web application. This may be the newest e-commerce platform (think Shopify), the next video-streaming site (Netflix, anyone?) or booking portal (Airbnb, for example).

Screenshot of Netflix homepage
Netflix, an example of a web application. (Image: Netflix.com)

You want to hire a web developer to help you create your product, but then you realise you simply can’t afford it. You think about outsourcing, but have heard the horror stories of shoddy products that don’t meet service level agreements being delivered.

This is how you come to the conclusion that building the product on your own is probably the best solution if you want to move the project forward. Unfortunately, you don’t really have any web development experience. What language do you build your web app in then?

Go with Ruby on Rails.

Ruby on Rails logo
(Image: Ruby on Rails)

So why Rails?

I. You’ll be able to build the entire application on your own.

Ruby on Rails is a full-stack framework specifically designed to help developers create web applications. It allows users to build both the front-end and back-end of a web application rapidly. This is to say that Rails is effective in helping you create both the parts of the website that users interact with as well as the portions that retrieve the data they need and store the data saved from that interaction.

In addition, the Rails framework provides people like yourself with a standardised structure to your code, so that you don’t have to create everything from scratch. This is especially useful for beginners, since having to learn a new programming language can itself seem like a herculean task, much less using the language to create a workable web app.

II. You’ll be able to build for a variety of products.

Say your product is a video-streaming platform, but that it doesn’t quite work out. No matter—your Ruby on Rails knowledge is likely to serve you for your next startup idea.

The Rails framework allows users to build a variety of products, from the simplest of landing pages to marketplaces to e-commerce websites.

Some popular web applications that were built on Rails include the following:

Hulu

Screenshot of Hulu homepage
(Image: Hulu)

Although its services are largely limited only to the United States, those of us who stream our TV on from the internet are likely to have heard of hulu. This American entertainment and video-streaming company runs on Ruby on Rails.

Airbnb

Screenshot of Airbnb homepage
(Image: Airbnb)

Online marketplace and travel booking platform Airbnb, which has taken the world by storm, is also built on Rails.

Indiegogo

Screenshot of Indiegogo homepage
(Image: Indiegogo)

Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo is another web application developed using Ruby on Rails.

Other services like Twitter and Soundcloud were also built on Rails in their early days but have since shifted away from the framework.

As Rails is likely to enable you to build all kinds of products, you can be certain that learning how to code in it will not be a wasted endeavour, even if the project you originally learnt it for is unsuccessful.

III. Your web application will be up and running in no time.

The Rails framework, with its code scaffolds, modules and out-of-the-box tools, makes web development more productive and efficient.

British software developer, author and international speaker, Martin Fowler, conducted a survey that estimated that building projects with Ruby on Rails was approximately 2 times more effective than “a mainstream project done in the most effective way [the developers] knew how”.

Bar graph answer for the question "How much did Ruby improve productivity for this project?"
Bar graph answer to the question “How much did Ruby improve productivity for this project?” (Image: Martin Fowler)

For startups, which typically want to build a prototype and then a minimum viable product as quickly as possible, the increased productivity that coding in Ruby on Rails can bring is going to be a godsend.

IV. You’ll develop strong foundations for building good web applications.

If you don’t have any experience in web development, starting your journey with Ruby on Rails helps you develop a strong foundation. The Rails framework stresses the use of battle-tested programming paradigms, which means that you’ll begin your web development journey by learning industry-accepted methods.

As is the case with learning anything new, it is best to start off by building a strong foundation instead of trying to correct mistakes and misconceptions later on.

V. You’ll be joining a community of active coders.

A quick look at the Stack Overflow page tagged with Ruby on Rails shows that the community is clearly active in both asking and answering questions on the use of the framework. For beginners, this means that help is just around the corner whenever you need it!

Interested parties can even attend the annual RailsConf, which occurs in Minneapolis the following year.

Screenshot of Ruby on Rails Conference homepage
(Image: Rails Conference 2019)

Interested in developing your own web application? Come join us in our Web Development (Ruby on Rails) course now!

(Featured image: rawpixel via Unsplash)