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This article was published on February 28, 2016

6 coolest Ruby on Rails projects

6 coolest Ruby on Rails projects
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Find a villa for your next vacation, watch Deadpool from your couch, and share your software projects with others. These are just a few examples of what Web applications built on Ruby on Rails can do for you.

Ruby on Rails – or Rails – is written in Ruby, a pure object-oriented programming language designed by Yukihiro Matsumoto to make programmers focus on the fun and creative part of programming.

In addition, Rails is also an open source software, so not only is it free, it also encourages people to make it better. With over 4,200 code contributors, Ruby on Rails now ranks third on HotFrameworks in terms of popularity.

As popularity rises, so does the number of cool projects done using Rails. From popular sites you know to open source projects, here are the six coolest Rails projects.

Popular websites

1. AirBnb
Those who are avid travelers must be familiar with this company.

Airbnb allows its users to look for cheaper accommodation in the location they want to visit, set up the price range for their own property, the dates they want to rent it out and a whole range of quirks and instructions about the place.

What makes it different is that you will be renting a place from the locals instead of hotels or hostels.

Credit: Airbnb

From its conception until now, Airbnb has been counting on Rails as one of its back-end tools. Thanks to Rails, Airbnb managed to deal with a huge amount of daily transactions that have brought Airbnb to the company it is today.

Last year, Airbnb improved their large scale payments systems with Rails. As a result, they managed to have payment systems that have strong transactional integrity, a robust audit trail and very predictable failure behavior.

2. Hulu
The success of Hulu is built on a simple concept: Provide Americans the ability to watch cable and network TV shows as well as movies legally and for free.

What makes Hulu different from its giant competitor, Netflix, is that Hulu gets its content fasterthe tradeoff being Netflix has a broader range of content. So if you’re the type of person that needs to keep up with the latest shows, Hulu is the right choice.

Credit: Hulu

After the RailsConf 2012, Matthew Butt, ex-Hulu development manager, explained how the ideals of Rails influenced greatly their software development.

“The ideals of Rails – convention over configuration, Don’t Repeat Yourself (whenever possible, reuse as much code as possible rather than duplicating similar code in multiple places), test first, and agile – are quickly becoming pervasive throughout software development,” he said.

Because of Rails, Hulu has a large and attractive library of content, and is easy to navigate on a variety of platforms.

3. Github
Even if you are not a programmer, you may have heard your geeky friends raving about Github.

Before diving into what Github is, you need to know first about Git, a version control system.

When software developers create an application, they make constant changes to the lines of code and release new versions, up to and after the first official release. The role of a version control system is to keep these changes (revisions) and store them in a central repository (storage). This way, developers can work together to make changes and upload the latest revision.

Now enter Github, the ‘social networking’ of software developers. Unlike Git that stores revision, Github stores their projects (software) and enables them to network with likeminded people.

Credit: Github

With Github, programmers can create a new project based off another existing project (forking), make revisions to the existing project so that they will be recognized by the original developers (pull request), and access changelogs so that they know who changed what.

As one of the 100 most popular sites in the world, Github is a large production Ruby on Rails application. It is because of Rails that Github can serve hundreds of millions of requests per day. Additionally, they also managed to upgrade their framework from Rails 2.3 into Rails 3 in 2014 with zero downtime.

Open Source Rails Projects

1. Hackety Hack
Hackety Hack is an open source project designed to teach the basics of programming from the ground up via its website

Aside from learning Ruby programming language, users can also learn how to make an easy program based on Ruby. To help beginners create their first program, Hackety provides a stock of fun programs created by other Hackety users.

Credit: Hackety

Have an idea for a new lesson or want to improve the existing lessons? As a contributor, there is a project on Github where you can help Hackety create new lessons, or update existing ones.

2. Diaspora
Decentralized, freedom and privacy are the three  philosophies at the heart of this online social network.

Unlike sites like Facebook, Diaspora does not store its data in huge central servers. As a user, you can choose whichever local pod you want to be registered with.

Want the true freedom of speech where no one will track you down and shut you up? On Diaspora, you can be whoever you want without using your real identity. Plus, Diaspora doesn’t own your data. You don’t have to sign over any rights to a corporation or any party who could use it. Your content is your business.

Credit: Diaspora via

You can contribute to this open source project on Github by squashing some bugs or contributing your own code.

3. Spree
Spree is an open source Rails eCommerce platform.

Spree boasts of itself as an eCommerce site that is flexible, customizable, easy to administer and easy to deploy. When it comes to software development, their rich features even top the enterprise edition of Magento, the world’s biggest eCommerce platform.

Credit: Allen Burt/Blue Stout

Other good news is that the backend of Spree is built upon simplicity, which means the options offered are not cluttered and overwhelming for developers.

With simplicity in mind, it’s going to be easier for developers to keep your products updated and current. This will influence the frontend and hence, improve the customer’s experience on the site.

Spree Backend
Credit: Allen Burt/Blue Stout
Spree Backend

Built on Rails, Spree is easy to develop, handles server requests faster, and takes fewer lines of code which speed up the website loading time. You can also contribute to making the software better on Github.

You know what else is cool?
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