Why Is Ruby on Rails the Right Choice for SaaS Product Development?

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Damian Jankowski

Updated Aug 11, 2023 • 13 min read
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Ruby on Rails is a flexible web development framework that speeds product development using pre-existing rich libraries.

Ruby on Rails has unique benefits that distinguish it from many other platforms if you intend to create a software-as-a-service platform. Its open-source code enables businesses to carry out market research quickly, develop their minimum viable product, get ahead of their rivals, and capture a larger market share.

As the global SaaS market is expected to reach $703.19 billion by 2030, the competition highlights the need to correctly decide on your web framework of choice - one that suits your needs and is capable of meeting your customer's expectations. We'll elaborate on critical arguments as to why RoR is the perfect framework for SaaS product development and introduce popular RoR applications to help drive home our points.

What matters the most for SaaS product development?

Several factors are crucial for the successful development of a SaaS product. Besides market research and product-market fit, these include scalability, security, user experience, time to market, and ongoing maintenance and updates to ensure the product remains relevant and competitive.

For that reason, choosing the right technology stack for SaaS product development is crucial. First, the choice of stack impacts the scalability and performance of the application, which is crucial for handling increasing levels of user traffic. The stack should enable rapid development and deployment, allowing businesses to get their product to market quickly and gain a competitive advantage.

Further, security is a critical concern for any SaaS product, and the chosen stack should have robust security features and a track record of being secure.

Yet, the chosen stack should provide a seamless and intuitive user experience, which is essential for user adoption and retention. The SaaS product should be easily maintainable and adaptable to changing business needs, allowing businesses to stay competitive and meet the evolving needs of their customers.

Let's say a business is developing a new SaaS product that requires a high level of scalability and performance to handle increased user traffic. They are comparing Ruby on Rails with other web stacks, such as Node.js or Django.

Ruby on Rails is a better choice in this scenario because it has a robust and scalable architecture that can handle high levels of user traffic without sacrificing performance. Rails' convention over configuration approach also enables developers to build complex applications more efficiently and with fewer lines of code, which can save time and reduce the risk of errors.

What makes Ruby on Rails the right choice for developing a SaaS product?

Ruby on Rails provides an efficient and effective framework for building successful SaaS products that meet the needs of both businesses and end-users.

Speedy development

The SaaS product development process has to be quick and efficient. The product development team must aim to release the minimum viable product before their competitor releases theirs. Time to market, after all, has direct correlations with growth in revenue and market share.

Ruby on Rails accelerates the SaaS product development process by offering a framework with pre-built feature implementations that have been tested and proven, thus saving valuable time for your development team, as they won't need to create these features from scratch. Additionally, your team will have access to a wide range of libraries (both open-source and paid) that will be useful in developing your domain.

In addition, beginning a new SaaS venture in Rails is straightforward, as you can rapidly produce basic framework elements to decrease the need for continuously composing generic code. Ruby on Rails adopts a "Convention over Configuration" methodology, which means it has a predefined set of assumptions that minimize the need for configuration and setup time.

This implies that as a business, you can concentrate on honing your business model, carrying out market research, and communicating with your target audience to swiftly obtain valuable customer feedback that enhances the application as a whole.

As you refine your business model and construct your SaaS product, bear in mind that its modular design promotes the use of third-party libraries and gems to utilize existing solutions that manage typical tasks. Businesses can then concentrate on what sets their SaaS product apart. In general, development teams estimate that they could decrease the development time for building SaaS products by 25 to 40%.

Framework maturity

SaaS products need to be dependable, secure, and efficient, but there is good news: Ruby on Rails, an established framework with 15 years of refining its methodology, has established common standards and guiding principles that lower the chances of encountering bugs in your code.

Its extensive history implies that there are highly skilled developers who have been trained on the intricacies of the framework and have worked on use cases that cover a wide range of industries.

From a business perspective, the proven track record of Ruby on Rails is a benefit in that the experience and mistakes from previously completed projects could be drawn upon to improve the code structure and third-party integration process.

Suppose we were to build a web application with Flutter. In that case, its lack of third-party libraries and issues with iOS are apparent drawbacks that we would have to wait for Google to fix before we could confidently release our MVP to the public.

Given that we'll never know how high up Google's priority-list Flutter is, this wait could be days, weeks, or even months. At this point, your competition would have already beaten you to the market.

A gentle learning curve

Software development, no matter the language, is a complex process. That said, Ruby is one of the easiest programming languages to learn, with syntax similar to that of Python. It's readable and concise, with a structure identical to that of the English language. To print numbers from 1 to 10, for example, you would type this one line in Ruby,

(1..10).each { |n| puts n }

Doing this in a more complicated language, like Java, would require this syntax

for (int i = 1; i <= 10; i++) {
System.out.println(i);
}

The Java example is more difficult to understand, given its use of variable declarations and loop control arguments.

When explaining the functionalities of the code, Ruby has extensive documentation for a development team to look back on. When development teams have hundreds of lines of documentation explaining what each function does, one could argue that SaaS development with Rails is an experience not to be missed.

On top of this, Rails is a popular platform with a large community following. Aside from the helpful act a business could ask these individuals for help, Rails has common standards known by all RoR developers (ex: project structure, common patterns) - thanks to that, it's pretty easy to start working on existing Rails projects.

For the business, this means two things:

  • It is easier to upskill and train your existing development team to be skilled in SaaS Product development with Rails
  • Should your group be occupied with building another SaaS application, it is possible to find a Ruby development team capable of taking on your project.

External integration

Aside from being inherently simple to work with, the Rails framework integrates well with other external services, including payment methods and cloud servers like PayPal and AWS. Its support for web applications like ActionCable, or Rails-React allows your SaaS products to remain performant and scalable while users interact with your features.

For a business, the ability to integrate with other services improves the security, functionality, and overall experience of your SaaS product. Integration with PayPal, for example, means that your SaaS app could provide a secure method to accept payment. With AWS, a SaaS product would have access to the world's largest serverless computing provider without having to build and maintain its own.

Not only does this speed up the product development process, but it also reduces development and maintenance costs throughout the business. In the case of AWS, for example, businesses have estimated that they can save up to 72% on infrastructure costs than if they had to build and run an in-house system.

Security

Ruby on Rails provides built-in security features that can help secure SaaS product development. These include:

  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) protection: Ruby on Rails has built-in protection against cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks, which is a common type of web application attack that can steal user data and compromise a website's security.
  • Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) protection: Ruby on Rails includes built-in CSRF protection, which helps prevent attackers from making unauthorized requests using a user's credentials.
  • SQL injection protection: Ruby on Rails provides built-in protection against SQL injection attacks, which can be used to access and modify sensitive data in a database.
  • Session management: Ruby on Rails includes features to manage user sessions securely, including the ability to encrypt session data and manage session timeouts.
  • Encryption: Ruby on Rails supports various encryption methods, including bcrypt, which is a secure hashing algorithm that can be used to store user passwords securely.

In addition to these built-in security features, Ruby on Rails also has a large and active community of developers who are continually working to identify and address security vulnerabilities. This community provides regular security updates and patches, which can help ensure that SaaS products developed using Ruby on Rails remain secure and protected against the latest security threats.

Here are some examples of fantastic SaaS apps based on the RoR framework:

Basecamp

The famous web-based project collaboration tool. Basecamp was introduced in 2004, coinciding with the creation of Ruby on Rails. The framework was actually extracted from the Basecamp project by David Heinemeier Hansson, who was a member of the development team.

Rails remains an integral part of Basecamp, offering a dependable solution that delivers quick performance and scalability. The latest iteration of the software, version three, has achieved an outstanding 99.985% daily uptime since its inception.

GitHub

In 2008, GitHub launched as a SaaS platform, quickly becoming the most widely-used web-based version control and collaboration platform among developers. It enables developers to create software and manage their source code efficiently.

GitHub has become especially popular among developers working on open-source projects, boasting nearly 6 million active users and 20 million active repositories. Check out the impressive performance data for GitHub.

Zendesk

Zendesk is a prominent cloud-based customer support platform that is utilized by more than 50,000 companies worldwide, including big names like Groupon, Vodafone, Uber, and Disney.

What makes Zendesk so popular among customers is its straightforward purchasing process, easy implementation, and user-friendly interface. The software is also recognized for its reliability and adaptability, enabling businesses to expand their customer support services effectively.

Shopify

Shopify is a top ecommerce platform that allows users to set up online stores- combines top functionality with a clean interface and intuitive design, helping over 2 mln retailers like Tesla Motors, Forbes, and Maxim Magazine in 100 countries. Monthly Recurring Revenue ( compared to 2021.

Airbnb

Airbnb is the world's leading online marketplace and hospitality service with a feature set that allows guests to search and book for short-term rentals through the company's website or mobile application.

A disruptor of the traditional hotel industry, Airbnb was initially built using Ruby on Rails, and it was precisely RoR that the founders credited for allowing them to develop and launch the minimum viable product for Airbnb in 2008.

As of 2021, Airbnb has had over 4 million listings in more than 220 locations worldwide. The entire company has served over 800 million guests and currently sits as the largest accommodation booking platform in the world.

A pretty impressive list, wouldn't you agree?

Ruby on Rails: the framework for great SaaS products

Ruby on Rails is a popular framework that some of the world's fastest-growing startups use to support their push for a quicker time-to-market and product-market fit. AirBnB, Basecamp, GithHub, Zendesk, and Shopify are just some examples of the thousands of SaaS platforms that were able to cater to their target audience because Ruby on Rails was part of their technology stack.

In sum, Rails' proven track record shows that it is an excellent framework for building reliable, secure, and scalable software that offers top performance and flexibility.

If you have Ruby and RoR experts on board, choosing the framework for your SaaS product is a no-brainer. However, if your team has expertise in other languages, such as PHP or Python, there's no point in making them learn Rails just to deliver your SaaS product. The other languages will work fine.

Nevertheless, if you particularly interested in building a product with RoR you can consider getting in touch with Ruby on Rails development company that might provide you with the right experts.

Let Ruby on Rails kick-start your SaaS product today.

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Damian Jankowski

Senior Ruby on Rails Developer
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