Advanced RESTful Rails

11:35–12:20 Thursday, 4-09-2008
Location: Saal Maritim B Level: Intermediate
Presentation: external link
Average rating: ****.
(4.38, 21 ratings)

One of the big benefits of Rails is that it standardizes application development in a way you don’t see with many of the alternatives. That has made Rails applications easier and faster to develop, and much easier to maintain, than competing frameworks. This isn’t just a one-time benefit, however; with the integration of RESTful principles over the last two years, Rails applications have become even more standardized. Developers of RESTful applications can see as much of an improvement over other Rails applications as they originally saw over their old (say, PHP) sites.

This benefit, however, is not without a downside. While REST is easy to follow in the most common cases, it can be difficult to apply to some scenarios – the classic question being how to represent search RESTfully. This new approach to domain modeling can get complicated, as even one of the paradigmatic examples of RESTful Rails, the restful_authentication plugin, shows – it abandons the principles when it comes to activation.

The difficulties of RESTful Rails don’t end with domain modeling, however; problems also arise from the implementation of REST in Rails. For instance, the standard approach to deleting a resource (link_to with method delete) is wholly inaccessible to anyone with JavaScript disabled.

In this session, we’ll take a look at these (and other) issues that you may encounter when you start building things outside the standard examples. From modeling complicated domains (authentication, search, and beyond), to working around the implementation of REST in Rails, we’ll discuss and apply techniques that you’ll find useful for every RESTful application you develop in the future.

Photo of Ben Scofield

Ben Scofield


Ben Scofield is a senior developer at Viget Labs, where he builds Rails applications for Web 2.0 startups. He’s been using Ruby and Rails for over three years, and is active in the community, speaking at the past two Railsconfs, and Rails to Italy and Rubyconf in 2007. In his rare downtime, he spends time with his family (recently increased!), works on personal projects, and tries to make the world a better place for web developers everywhere.

Ben blogs at

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