Getting Started with Rails

Many folks that attend the MadRailers Meetup are new to the Ruby programming language and the Ruby on Rails web framework. For those that may be attending an upcoming meetup and want to get some understanding before coming to an Office Hours event we've put together the following list of resources.

Online Tutorials

  • is a great resource for those that have never used the Ruby programming language before. Get familiar with the language before diving into the Rails framework.
  • Rails for Zombies is a quick, fun in-browser tutorial to introduce developers to the Rails framework.
  • RailsTutorial has a free tutorial option as well as a bundle of screencasts and e-book for sale.


  • Rails Guides are maintained alongside the Rails framework. They're a fantastic resource that's a click down from a tutorial but not a low-level API documentation. If you're interested in how specific parts of Rails work this is a great starting point.
  • Rails API Documentation is an auto-generated set of documentation on the Rails framework. It's VERY low-level but has the highest resolution in terms of information about specific classes and methods.
  • Ruby Toolbox groups rubygems into categories based on functionality and rates their 'marketshare' in the developer community. It's a good place to check out when you ask yourself, "I wonder what most Rails developers use for __?" where the blank could be ORM libraries, user authentication & authorization, templating, logging, etc.

Screencasts & Podcasts

  • Railscasts is the (currently on hiatus) long-running and very popular Rails screencast series by Ryan Bates. The archives are deep and valuable- check it out!
  • Ruby Tapas are short screencasts by Avdi Grimm that aim to improve your usage of the Ruby language.
  • Ruby Rogues is a podcast series on a variety of topics related to Ruby and Rails.

See this page for a listing of a variety of additional Ruby- or Rails-related podcasts and screencasts.


There are a variety of developer camps that aim to get folks up and running quickly on developing web application with Rails.


  • The UW-Madison Computer Science department is now offering some courses on web development.
  • Madison College offers Ruby on Rails courses.
  • The Hub is a UW-Madison student organization that has worked with MadRailers in the past to put on Newbie Night events on campus to introduce students to Ruby and Rails.