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Ruby vs Ruby on Rails: What’s the difference?

by Snehal Naik
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Developers around the world constantly seek ways to communicate with computer systems efficiently. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use programming languages and frameworks. Ruby is among the top active programming languages, and it also ranks in the top 20 programming languages used globally, according to the TOIBE index. As a general-purpose programming language, it is quite popular in the developer community, and so is Ruby on Rails. Rails is an application framework currently used by more than 3 million websites globally In this article, let’s look at Ruby and Rails with respect to its features and differences.  

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What is Ruby?

Created in the 1990s by Yukihiro Matsumoto in Japan, Ruby is a high-level, interpreted programming language built to facilitate simplicity and productivity. It supports many programming paradigms and follows the principles of good user interface design. This is also what makes Ruby a programming language that is enjoyed by programmers while at work.  

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Features of Ruby

Ruby was written in C language and supports Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix. It is a programming language that includes dynamic typing. Let’s look at the key features of Ruby. 

Dynamic and Flexible 

Ruby allows for the creation of more expressive programs as it can be used to alter code at runtime. This also offers more flexibility to coders with regard to writing code.  


Unlike Java or C, there is no process of compiling the code before with Ruby. The Ruby code can be parsed by the interpreter and translated into machine language. 

Open Source and Cross-Platform 

Ruby can be easily downloaded and installed from its official website. It is a free, handy, and practical programming language available for different operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux/UNIX.  


It is easy to build and reuse programs in Ruby as everything in Ruby is an object, including the basic data types. This also makes it simpler to create classes, inheritance, polymorphism, and encapsulation.   

Readable and Expressive 

Ruby has a clean and readable syntax that is like natural language. Because of this, understanding code and its maintenance becomes simpler and promotes rapid development. 

Large Community Support 

Ruby has an active community of developers with user groups, newsgroups, and even a blog that publishes the latest updates. Its vast libraries and frameworks, like Ruby on Rails, are popular for their ability to develop scalable web applications. 

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Why use Ruby?

Being a flexible programming language, Ruby helps in creating static websites, web servers, and automation tools. It is also used to solve many data-processing problems because of its built-in functions. Ruby is also extensively used by businesses for data analysis as it is easy to extract data from web pages using Ruby. Ruby is used across businesses and domains, some of which are: 

  • Finance 
  • Real Estate 
  • Retail and eCommerce 
  • High Tech 
  • Healthcare 
  • Entertainment  
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What is Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails, also known as Rails, is a web application framework written in Ruby. Rails is a full-stack framework that is shipped with all the tools you need to build frontend and backend web apps. It was created by the Danish programmer David Heinemeier Hansson and was first released in August 2004. Ruby on Rails does not offer finished functions that a regular library offers but has many code libraries that make repetitive tasks easier to accomplish 

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Features of Ruby on Rails

features of ruby on rails

MVC Architecture 

Developers who are used to other frameworks that operate on MVC can easily adapt to Rails. Ruby on Rails is based on the Model, View and Controller (MVC) pattern, a popular web application architecture. With MVC, it is possible to separate codes of different functions and maintain a resource layer. 

Built-in Testing   

The RSpec testing tool is among the built-in testing tools offered by Rails. Also, Rails produces skeleton test code while models and controllers are being created. Rails helps run test codes to ensure that the written code adheres to the desired functionality even in the event of major code refactoring.

Active Records 

Ruby on Rails offers a rich database of active records that have rich objects. In addition, it also has modeling associations between tables and on-demand callbacks upon saving. It is possible to encrypt sensitive data and express SQL queries eloquently with Rails. 

Active Controllers 

The active controllers offered by Ruby on Rails can expose the domain model to the web and process incoming parameters. In addition, the controllers can also set caching headers and render templates, which makes it possible to respond with HTML or JSON. 

Convention over Configuration 

Some software systems, like Java web application frameworks, need multiple configuration files. This makes development a tedious task because of the need to have multiple settings. However, with convention over configuration, it is possible to assign value automatically without user intervention. Ruby on Rails spares conventions, reflection, and dynamic runtime extensions by avoiding configuration files 


This feature allows you to write more flexible, adaptable, and dynamic code. This feature has a set of techniques that lets programmers write code that dynamically writes other code for us. 


Ruby allows the developer to decide how an application database will work. Once the work of the application database has been decided, Rails uses the definition to generate the required code automatically. This technique helps in the creation of interfaces automatically.

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Why use Ruby on Rails?

Rails combines Ruby programming language with HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to develop web apps that execute on a web server. It allows for the quick creation of high-performance web platforms. It has tools that help programmers deliver more in less time. Also, its vast community facilitates collaboration and active support.  

Ruby on Rails is used across businesses and domains, some of which are: 

  • E-commerce 
  • Stock exchange platforms 
  • Social networks 
  • Informational portals  
  • SaaS Solutions  
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Difference between Ruby and Ruby on Rails

Ruby Ruby on Rails
Object-oriented scripting language launched in 1995 Web app development framework released in 2004
Developed on the principle of user interface design Developed on the principle of DRY and COC
A general-purpose programming language A framework for database-driven web applications
Used in static website development Not recommended for the creation of static websites
The syntax is like Perl and Python The syntax is like Phoenix in Elixir and Python
Influenced by Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, BASIC, Java, and Lisp Inspired by Django in Python, Catalyst in Perl, Laravel, CakePHP and Yii in PHP, Grails in Groovy, Phoenix in Elixir, Play in Scala, and Sails.js in Node.js
C++, Java, and VB.net are used while developing applications with Ruby HTML, CSS, JavaScript and XML are used when developing applications with Rails
Programmed in C Programmed in Ruby
Used to develop desktop applications Used to develop web applications
Customers include Fiverr, GitHub, Twitter, SCRIBD, Airbnb, and SlideShare Customers include Shopify, Hulu, Basecamp, Zendesk, and Doximity
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Since their inception, Ruby and Rails have helped businesses and organizations build many successful projects with their tech stack. It is important to understand that Ruby and Rails are two different things. Nevertheless, both help deliver versatile software applications for desktop and web, respectively. While Ruby is a simple language that can be learned quickly, Ruby on Rails can be used to simplify application development based on Ruby. In conclusion, both have a beginner-friendly approach that facilitates development.  

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Frequently Asked Questions

Ruby is a programming language, while Ruby on Rails is a web application framework built using the Ruby language.

Ruby is used to build static websites, perform data processing and general-purpose scripting, and automate and develop web pages.

A static website is a page with fixed content coded in HTML and stored on a web server. Examples of static websites include portfolio websites, brochure websites, and one-off landing pages.

With regard to performance, Ruby applications are faster than the ones that run on Python. However, Python is better with scalability and libraries

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