When I first started to work with Ruby a few years ago the big theme was ‘The Community’. Conference talks and blog articles were constantly encouraging community growth, the sharing of experiences and reciprocal help, all mainly focusing around the Rails framework. All of a sudden the Interweb was full of trustworthy discussion forums, blogs and training sites designed to help people quickly pick up Rails and solve a variety of day-to-day problems. Soon after though, the focus shifted to pure Ruby and some of these sites settled in for good and became pillars of a great online community. In fact, Ruby probably remains the programming language with the biggest community support and the most online resources that are actually up-to-date.
Doing my bit to help the community, I’ve listed below a very subjective selection of well maintained and regularly updated Ruby resources that you’ll keep coming back to, regardless of whether you just started playing with Ruby or are as an experienced Rubyist as Campbeltown is a mature single malt whisky.
Delivered by the EnvyLabs crew, Ruby5 is a Ruby and Ruby on Rails podcast. Gregg Pollack, the mastermind behind the show, probably did more to popularise RoR back in its infant years than any other person and he’s definitely still keeping up the game. Rarely going beyond 6 minutes time, Ruby5 stays short and to the point. Presented in catchy newsflash format, these podcasts are a pure pleasure to listen to and, if you want to stay up to date with current hot topics, new ruby gems or interesting blog posts, you should most definitely stay tuned to Ruby5.
Format: online journal
Following quite a unique format on Ruby’s landscape of audio and video resources, Practicing Ruby is an online journal curated by Gregory Brown of Mendicant University. It presents a variety of topics grouped in different categories, everything from duck typing and TDD to software design processes and practical advice on using modules. Articles give an in-depth analysis of each topic, making it a perfect resource both for beginners and advanced readers. Likewise, this format encourages reader interaction through comments and spawns great discussions on many of the articles.
If you are more of the reader than listener, Practical Ruby is perfect for you.
If you can’t afford going to one of the Ruby conferences around the world or simply didn’t manage to get a ticket on time then there’s no need to worry! Confreaks is a great place to grab videos of talks from some of the best Ruby and Ruby on Rails conferences. Of course, you will be missing out on the event atmosphere and the fabulous banter and won’t be able to chat with fellow Rubyists but you’ll still be able to watch most of the talks as if you were there (especially if you play fullscreen).
I remember finding this website by accident a couple of years ago and since then I haven’t been able to stop checking it over and over again. What used to be a small collection of videos from a handful of events has now became the de-facto place to go after any major conference. You can learn about developers’ experiences with Ruby in real live situations, watch experiments with Ruby or find out more about quality software craftsmanship. Amongst the dozens of videos there are some real gems worth watching even if you are not that deeply into Ruby. ‘Architecture the Lost Years’ by Robert C. Martin, ‘Real Software Engineering’ by Glenn Vanderburg and Katrina Owen’s ‘Therapeutic Refactoring’ are a few of the best.
Still not convinced? Well, recently Confreaks went beyond Ruby and introduced videos from other events like the jQuery Conference, the Jenkins User Conference and the Open Stack Summit. Go check it out now.
I remember someone once saying that if you wanted to do something in Rails, it’s probably already been covered in one of the Railscasts screencasts. Ryan Bates, the man behind this great resource, is winner of the 2008 Ruby Hero award in recognition of his incredible work with these online tutorials.
There has been on average one new video per week since early 2007 and it seems like Ryan is not losing his spirit and it’s quite amazing that he’s been doing it consistently for free for so many years. Whilst there are still occasional free screencasts, the recent introduction of a small monthly fee gives you access to more advanced videos and revised versions of some older topics – personally, I think paying for the full content is a no-brainer. Ryan is even so kind that whenever he’s not able to deliver weekly screencast, he usually offers a free subscription extension.
If you ever wondered how to create nested models form in RoR, process payments using PayPal or translate everything into Wookie language, you should go ahead and check out Railscasts.
Frequency: weekly on average
Made by hardcore developers for hardcore developers, the Ruby Rogues podcast touches on the more advanced topics of Ruby. With a usual panel of James Edward Gray II, Charles Max Wood, Josh Susser, Avdi Grimm and David Brady, Ruby Rogues has played host to many of the biggest icons in the industry, including David Heinemeier Hansson, Jim Weirich and Aaron Paterson. Their podcasts also usually introduce a guest panelist, an expert on their current topic.
If you like the notion of an in-depth (at least an hour long), opinionated discussion with Ruby’s real experts, then you are in for a true treat. Beware though, this is real bad-ass territory for Ruby geeks and only the place to be if you aspire to be one (or already are one). Also after one cancelled conference and more than 80 episodes, Ruby Rogues has become a much more diverse podcast – great for us listeners but I already wonder how many podcast won’t get off the ground because of it ;-).
You don’t need to be an exert to stay in touch with what’s going on in Ruby world as Ruby Weekly will conveniently pop into your mailbox every Thursday. Compiled by Jeremy Clarkson and Peter Cooper, this newsletter will make it impossible to give any more excuses about missing out on important news, tutorials and blog articles relating to Ruby.
Ruby Tapas is a fresh introduction to online Ruby training resources. Brought to the masses by Avdi Grimm, one of the Ruby Rogues, Tapas became one of my favourite resources straight away. The format is great and focuses on very specific Ruby topics, rarely exceeding 5 minutes in length. Delivered three times a week (including one free episode), it’s a perfect little snack of Ruby training. An excellent back catalogue of content has built up really fast due to this pace too.
It seems that Ruby Tapas is slowly becoming Ruby’s own version of Railscasts and if you’ve never heard about it, go and check it out straight away. It’s well worth the money and I guarantee you’ll learn something useful although you may need to rewatch each episode a few times.
Finally, just as a side note, I would also highly recommend the incredible Destroy All Software from Gary Bernhardt. I think it’s as valuable as all the other resources I mentioned above, however, Gary touches on topics outside of Ruby (like Unix, Python and others) and with his Vim skills it’s plain dangerous to watch – I guarantee it will blow your brains on at least a couple of occasions. (DAS costs $9/month and there’s a new episode every fortnight).