Active Rails

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Author Introductions

Ryan Bigg

I came to be an author on this book back in April 2010 and then spent about a year and a half writing it from scratch and working full time. The first edition (called Rails 3 in Action), focussing on Rails 3, was published in September of 2011. The second edition (called Rails 4 in Action), focussing on Rails 4.2 started in 2012 (or was it 2013?) and was published in August 2015.

Now nearly 5 years later, here is the third edition! It focusses on Rails 6. I started working on this edition in November 2019, and it’s now April 2020 as I write this, and the book is almost done. Again.

I suppose I should answer why this one is called Active Rails and not Rails 6 in Action. We didn’t want to continue using the "in Action" name, as it sounded too much like "inaction". Active Rails is about vibrancy and energy, and is a nice pun on the naming conventions of the parts of Rails (Active Record, Active Support, etc.) to boot.

We even have a great cover to match, made from an idea Kieran had. No more weird soldier dudes on the cover that have nothing to do with Rails at all. I am glad that I won’t get weird-soldier-dude questions any more.

We’re now able to publish this book ourselves, free from the shackles of a publisher who…​ well, I won’t say much more about that. Let’s just leave it at "Ryan is over the moon happy", yeah?

This means that we are now able to publish this book on our own, through Leanpub, without the…​ let’s call it "interference"…​ of a "traditional" publisher. This will (perhaps paradoxically) lead to a higher-quality book and it will mark the first edition that comes to you in beautiful color. Even the code is syntax highlighted.

It’ll make reading a nicer experience overall.

Why even sign up to write a third edition when the first two took so long to write? For two very simple reasons: I keep hearing from people within the Ruby community who’ve read either (or both!) of the earlier versions who have read the book and who’ve become Rails developers since. Or even those who were Rails developers and found something valuable within the pages of the first two editions. Personally, I’ve wanted to do a third, self-published edition for a long time. Perhaps for 5 years! And so with those two things in mind, it just makes sense to do a third edition.

If you’re one of those early-edition readers who’s still buying, reading and recommending this book to others: thank you times infinity. I appreciate your support.

Rails continues to evolve, and this book represents this. Rails always evolves, and for the better. Between Rails 4 and Rails 6, I can think of a few cool features that’ve come through: Webpacker (for 1st-class JavaScript support), Action Cable, Action Text, Action Mailbox, Active Storage, and that’s just off the top of my head. This book covers those features, and has been refreshed to keep it up-to-date with this latest evolution of Rails applications.

The earlier editions of this book have been used by many people to jumpstart their careers in Rails and you could be next with this third edition. Skimming through these pages won’t get you there, but reading it thoroughly and applying the lessons in it might just get you there.

Good luck.

Ryan Bigg


© Ryan Bigg, Rebecca Le, Kieran Andrews & Robin Klaus