RailsSpace Tutorial DVD #1

Peter Jones reviews a copy of RailsSpace Ruby On Rails Tutorial by Aurelius Prochazka published by Addison-Wesley as part of their Professional Ruby Series.

RailsSpace: Ruby on Rails Tutorial is a CD, with associated booklet, comprising over five hours of "LiveLessons" presented by Aurelius Prochazak, who is described as an "Internet pioneer and best-selling author".

There are 16 lessons in total, which vary from 15 to 30 minutes in length. After the introduction, the first seven lessons cover the basics of Ruby on Rails, and how to create a login based website. The following eight lessons cover aspects of creating a social networking application. The accompanying booklet provides a few pages of information for each lesson too.

The social networking application, on which the code is based, is covered in greater depth in the book RailsSpace: Building a Social Networking Website. That book is a separate purchase. It may be more appropriate for experienced developers who do not need coding techniques to be demonstrated on video, and wish to build up the code themselves. The code itself can also be downloaded from RailsSpace.com; this may be more appropriate for users of the LiveLessions CD as I don’t think many viewers would actually build the application whilst following along watching the lessons.

Based on Rails 1.2.3 the code and techniques are a little out of date, despite to copyright being 2008. Having said that, there is more to be learnt from the videos than just the code. As it is possible to see Aurelius using the rails framework, a novice coder can get a useful insight into what coding with rails is all about. There is a highlighting facility Aurelius uses to identify the code he is explaining, which works pretty well. Seeing testing implemented, and the occasional error pop up during the lessons is also instructive.

TextMate (only on the Mac) is used as a text editor, which give us PC users an impression on what we are missing out on too. The database used is MySQL 5.

Overall the tutorials are informative and well structured, with the points to be covered highlighted at the beginning of each lesson, and a summary of what has been achieved at the end. I think it probably makes best sense to purchase these lessons if you are a relative beginner, who would learn more from a practical demonstration, rather than having the RailsSpace: Building a Social Networking Website book.

The listed price of 69.99 US$ seems a reasonable amount to pay for this.

Please note that a free copy of this tutorial was provided by Addison-Wesley on condition that it was reviewed.