RailsTutorial.org: Michael Hartl's Awesome New Rails Tutorial
RailsTutorial.org, a.k.a. the Ruby on Rails Tutorial, is an all new Ruby on Rails tutorial being developed by Michael Hartl (of RailsSpace and Insoshi fame). Drafts are currently live for chapters 1 through 4 and the tutorial aims to be a thorough and practical introduction to Rails. An associated screencast series is also set to follow.
Currently the book is viewable online and the layout is splendid. Very clean and easy to navigate - mostly thanks to Michael's work on his proprietary "PolyTeXnic" TeX-based markup and layout system. There's also a PDF build of the book clocking in at 130 pages already, with only 4 of 10 chapters complete.
The currently available Chapters (1 through 4) cover the basic introductions to the concepts involved, version control, basic deployment concerns, building a controller, producing helpers, how to build Ruby classes, how to integrate layouts, and how to build a simple signup system.
I asked Michael some questions to get some background on the project:
Peter Cooper: With what intentions did you set out to write the Rails Tutorial?
Michael Hartl: I wanted to make a Ruby on Rails tutorial that was both thorough and up-to-date. I feel that Rails deserves a book-length tutorial, and indeed Aurelius Prochazka and I produced just that in our book RailsSpace, but it went out of date with alarming speed. To fix this situation, I decided to write a new book that's both up-to-date and, because it's online, easy to update. I also saw an opportunity to make a tutorial covering the parts of Rails least likely to undergo major changes. Tragically, RailsSpace came out just before the Rails REST revolution, and at that time all of Rails was moving fast. Nowadays, while the Rails frontier still moves rapidly, there is a stable core of techniques that every new Rails developer needs to learn. Rails Tutorial focuses on that core material.
What are the future plans for the tutorial?
I plan to complete the remaining chapters over the next several months. I should be able to push out at least one chapter a month, and possibly twice that many, so the book should be done in time for RailsConf in June 2010. Once the book is finished, I'll be making an associated Ruby on Rails Tutorial screencast series - readers can subscribe to Rails Tutorial News to get notified when it's available. And, of course, I'll continue to update the tutorial with each new release of Rails.
How can people engage with you and provide feedback?
I'm using a Get Satisfaction widget and feedback page, and I'm really pleased with the results so far. Within a day of releasing the book's first four chapters, readers had made some good suggestions and had reported a few small errors, and I was able to push updates within minutes of getting the feedback. Readers can also contact me through the "Rails Tutorial Twitter account or the Rails Tutorial Facebook page.