How to Speed up Software Development With Ruby on Rails: All You Need to Know

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Kamil Paszkowski

Updated May 25, 2024 • 14 min read
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Choosing Ruby on Rails for your digital product development project can help businesses stay competitive, responsive, and agile in the fast-paced business environment by enabling quick software development.

Ruby is a concise language with a lean codebase contributing to faster development and integration. Rails was created with many built-in libraries, and starting a new project with Rails automatically includes lines of skeleton code that are common across most applications.

As a business, you want these features for your development to lower your time to market and receive a lot of audience feedback. These factors increase a startup's probability of success and validate existing ideas.

RoR shows us how rapid software development can be and, in the process, cut down development costs and improve the user feedback cycle.

Speed of development with Ruby on Rails

Speed plays a crucial role in software development, as it impacts the time-to-market, cost, customer satisfaction, and overall agility of businesses in responding to changing market demands and customer needs.

In particular, software development can be an expensive part of a startup journey and the period from the first noticeable change to production delivery should be as short as possible.

The technology choice is important from the stakeholder's perspective.

Here comes Ruby on Rails that is known for its ability to facilitate fast software development due to its convention over configuration approach, agile development principles, expressive Ruby language, rich ecosystem, and built-in testing framework, making it an excellent choice for businesses seeking to develop software quickly and efficiently.

Ruby on Rails is a frequent choice to build prototypes or create the MVP version of a product. There are many factors which make web development in Rails fast:

Complete framework

It is a "battery-included" framework in which many essential, out-of-the-box tools and solutions are available, for example,

  • Database communication
  • Schema migrations
  • Email sending/receiving
  • WebSockets
  • Internalization
  • Caching
  • API mode
  • Excellent security defaults.

Using them is always faster than developing these features from scratch. Though the time-save depends on what you need to build, Ruby developers have shared that building with Rails cuts down development time in half when comparing this to building from scratch.

Layered structure

The MVC (Model–View–Controller) software architectural pattern is a simple and easy way to split application logic into separate layers with their respective responsibilities. Ruby on Rails follows MVC allowing developers to focus on what needs to be done instead of making decisions over code organization (at least in the early stages of a project).

This combined with Ruby on Rails' convention over configuration approach and built-in testing framework, make it an excellent choice for developing software quickly and efficiently.

Numerous third-party components

By utilizing the Ruby programming language, Rails has access to a large repository of third-party components (gems), which greatly accelerates application development by providing pre-built functionalities, eliminating the need for developers to create these features from scratch.

For example, authentication packages (registration, login pages, or through social media providers like Facebook or Google) are very easy to set up, thanks to Devise gem. Building the administration panel is simple with ActiveAdmin.

Convention over configuration

The convention over configuration strategy saves dozens of configuration lines and boilerplate code. Favoring sets of rules that come with the Rails framework can cut the number of decisions that need to be made, keeping code simplicity and flexibility simultaneously.

Strong support from DevOps services

Many hosting and CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery) services have prebuilt Rails support, such as.:

This speeds up development given that DevOps automates many of the business processes, and a 2019 Accelerate report highlights lead time, deployment frequency, change failure, and time to restore. Availability has all improved when a DevOps platform was integrated into the software.

Good frontend tools support

JavaScript and CSS preprocessors, such as Webpack or SCSS, can be integrated into an application in just a few steps. There are also lots of true gems that support all popular frameworks like React.js, Vue.js, Angular, or CSS tools.

Apps created with Rails 7+ come with Hotwire, a new toolkit for building front-end apps. It integrates well with Rails and thus provides a good development experience across the stack. This contributes to faster development.

Large developer community

Strong community support and a longstanding history bode well for businesses looking to work with Rails. A large Rails community means issues regarding the framework had already been previously solved, and solutions to your problems have likely been created. This facilitates faster, bug-free development by reducing the number of hours or days developers might mull over their problems.

Code scaffolds

Code scaffolds are auto-generated code snippets that can provide reasonable basic defaults for new app components. They are ready to use in a few seconds. Their main benefit is that they make developers more productive in their day-to-day work.

Can you prototype fast with Ruby on Rails?

When choosing Ruby on Rails to build a web application, what can we expect regarding speed development?

It mainly depends on team velocity - however, assuming that an application is built from the ground up, it's easy to create staging, beta, and production environments in a couple of days.

Creating a basic Rails app is a matter of minutes, so presenting the first working version of a product after a few days of development is expected. A few months might be enough to build the MVP so that the business can start validating its goals.

The factors that can help speeding up the RoR software development process

An efficient setup and workflow for your team

Building an in-house team can be quite a challenge and that’s why companies often use the services of Ruby on Rails consulting agencies – it’s an attractive alternative, but if you want everything to go smoothly, make sure that you prepare yourself before you start cooperation.

Communication and transparency are crucial in Ruby on Rails consulting and development. Following certain rules will help you solve all potential problems, manage workflow, and keep all issues under control. Before the setup, you should learn a little about the technology to understand your team better and streamline the process.

The cooperation between a client and a development company is both very individual and generic at the same time. From the development’s team point of view, the goal of the cooperation is to create a product and possibly maintain it in the future. That’s why wrong assumptions, approaches, plans, and the execution of those plans can lead to different expectations and results at many stages of a product’s creation.

Rule #1: Find time to meet with the Ruby on Rails consulting team

As a client you will have a particular vision for the product and must remember to communicate that to the Ruby on Rails consulting company. So the first thing you should remember is to make time in your calendar for regular meetings with the development team. Discussions should occur at least once a week for several reasons.

  • Meetings constitute an excellent opportunity to present the progress of the product made by the development team in each sprint. From my experience, clients tend to have many questions about developers’ work following the workflow, layout, and business logic during sessions. At such meetings, called stand-up meetings, many edge cases are very often targeted and clarified.
  • You can be sure that the project aligns with the assumptions, budget and the timeline.
  • Frequent meetings adhere to the lean management approach to creating web products. This approach guarantees delivering more value with less waste in the context of a project.

Rule #2: Get acquainted with the tools and crucial project details

No matter what programming language you use for web development, you should be familiar with all our vital information. You should have full access to the following:

  • Code repository
  • Staging servers
  • Domains
  • Hosting
  • Communication channels
  • Tickets in project management tools
  • Documents such as readmes, plans, and mockups

Rule #3: Be present

Creating a web application presents multiple challenges, variables, and edge cases that will occur during cooperation with a development agency, even those with the most experienced rails developers. Such a complex ecosystem requires being present in many ways.

  • Use staging and beta servers after the consulting team finishes work on new functionalities. It is essential because the faster you test functionalities, the quicker you can spot the discrepancies between the client’s vision and the product.
  • Slack is a great communication tool. You can ask questions on dedicated Slack channels, so the developer that created the functionality or PM can respond.
  • At Netguru, we use JIRA for our Ruby on Rails consulting services to track project progress.

The effective collaboration checklist

When working with a Ruby on Rails development company, you have to manage the work with people, not only with software. Agencies understand that their client’s success is their success too, and they will do everything possible to make this success a reality. You should adhere to a few principles to work efficiently with an agency, and everyone will be happier.

Rule #4: Prepare yourself for the cooperation

Before the Ruby on Rails consulting collaboration starts, you should do a few things to make everyone work more efficiently.

  • Check whether the company is responsive to the business and marketing changes suggested by the client.
  • Check the internal procedures of the agency you’re about to choose.
  • Check whether the agency has a talented team of Ruby developers responsible for delegating the right people to the right job.
  • Talk with other clients of the agency you’ve chosen and ask about their experience.

When you start the collaboration:

  • Prepare and provide access to repositories, mockups, and graphic designs.
  • Put together a list of ideas and user stories.
  • Write down the questions about your project as a list.
  • Describe the market and identify your target group.

During the cooperation, you need to:

  • Specify the requirements for your MVP.
  • Set up all the necessary communication channels.
  • Always ask questions when you don’t understand something.
  • Identify the following steps to be taken.

After the launch of the product or at the end of the collaboration:

  • Make sure you keep the agency close to hand.
  • Check whether the code you’ve been given is well-documented.
  • Ask about maintenance services for your product.

The best practices in Ruby on Rails ecosystem - maximize the cooperation with the agency

Every ecosystem follows a set of guidelines. You should know them to maximize the gains from collaborating with an agency. In the case of RoR, the procedures are as follows.

  • Use gems. Gems are open-source libraries that you can reuse in many projects. If you need to implement user registration, image uploads, or automatic e-mail distribution in your application, use an open-source library. You don’t need to write it from scratch.
  • Consider using an external API. Your development team doesn’t need to write everything from scratch. They can use an external API to save time and money to focus on solving other, more pressing issues. You don’t need to write software for converting currencies, posting messages on Facebook, or using Google Maps. All major companies worldwide have an API available that you can use for a small fee or free of charge.
  • Follow the best RoR and programming patterns to keep your software maintainable and easy to develop. The acronyms DRY, KISS, and SOLID should be no mystery to you. Use the correct design patterns, keep your software and libraries up-to-date, and use useful database features such as indexes, views, Postgis, or full-text search if needed.
  • Use continuous delivery tools to save time in the delivery process. Use tools that make this process as painless and automatic as possible.

Ready to start a RoR development project?

While working with a remote team might have downsides compared to in-house developers, having the proper preparation and management principles in place means you won’t feel the difference. The primary guideline to follow is to treat all the members as if they were employees of your own company. They need to understand your vision to follow and execute it.

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Kamil Paszkowski

Kamil - the full package of a creative mind and an eye for detail. His motto being: Less is more!...
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