Even though it powers giants like GitHub and Shopify, the marketshare and popularity of Ruby as a programming language is far from big. Such limited demand goes hand-in-hand with a limited market offer, making the search for a good Ruby on Rails development company a real challenge. Well, not anymore! We have handpicked the top companies specializing in Ruby on Rails and listed them all in the table below. If you’re interested in the detailed description of the criteria used to rank these companies, just scroll past the table. Down there, you will also find a quick guide on how to make the most out of this page.
Our aim is to objectively assess the top web development companies working with Ruby on Rails in the US so that you’re able to zero in on the most suitable vendor for your business needs. To achieve this aim, we followed a detailed and comprehensive evaluation methodology. It takes into account important factors like experience in the domain, feedback from past clients, the company’s portfolio, its project management style, and its team’s expertise in the key departments related to this service. Given below is a more detailed description of how we evaluate the companies on our long list to narrow them down to the top 10.
The first step on our journey is a visit to each company’s website. During this stage, we consider the size of the company and its history with Ruby on Rails development. Since RoR has been around for more than ten years, we favor companies that have a long history using this open-source framework to build digital products. Moreover, we determine each company’s industry and client focus to get a general idea of its team’s expertise.
To further examine their capabilities and experience, we check the companies’ project portfolios, as well as their case studies. At this point, we learn about their approach and if they were able to live up to clients’ expectations. We also try to get a preliminary idea of what Ruby on Rails development services they offer before we move on to a more detailed evaluation.
First and foremost, developers need to be able to write clean, compact, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-scale code. Ruby is an object-oriented programming language (OOP), and in OOP, the only way to achieve a software design that’s understandable, flexible, and easy to maintain is to follow the SOLID principles.
The primary design principles that we expect every Ruby development company on our list to follow are as follows:
This principle states that a class should have only one responsibility—that is, changes made in one part of the software’s specification should be able to affect the class specification. The benefits of having small, well-organized classes include fewer test cases, fewer dependencies, and easier searching.
According to this principle, classes should be open for extension but closed for modification. This prevents the modification of existing code, which could potentially create new bugs. The exception, of course, is when existing code already has a bug and needs fixing.
This states that objects in a program should be replaceable with instances of their subtypes without altering a program’s correctness. That is, if class B is a subtype of class A, a Ruby on Rails developer should be able to replace A with B without disrupting the program’s behavior.
The meaning of this principle is that multiple client-specific interfaces are better than one general-purpose interface. By splitting larger interfaces into smaller ones, we can ensure that implementing classes is only concerned with the methods that are of interest to them.
This principle refers to the decoupling of software modules, which ensures that instead of high-level modules that depend on low-level modules, both depend on abstractions. Testing individual modules is a lot easier than when they’re coupled together.
The most basic thing to understand about Ruby on Rails is that Ruby is a general-purpose programming language while Rails is a web application framework. Rails is just one of the frameworks available to developers working with Ruby. We made sure to also list the Ruby on Rails development companies that are experienced with alternative Ruby frameworks. This is because in certain cases, it’s better to use frameworks other than Rails. Here are some of the most commonly used Ruby frameworks other than Rails:
This domain-specific language (DSL) allows the creation of web applications in Ruby quickly and with minimal effort. It doesn’t support the model-view-controller (MVC) architectural pattern used in many other Ruby frameworks, but its very simplicity enables the rapid creation of a variety of Ruby-based web apps.
This API framework for Ruby runs on Rack (the underlying technology behind nearly all frameworks in the Ruby world) or complementary web application frameworks such as Sinatra by providing a simple DSL.
Previously known as Lotus, this relatively young web framework simplifies custom web application development by enforcing good code structure and providing ready-to-use libraries. It also uses content delivery networks to deliver responses much faster than other frameworks and consumes almost 60% less memory than other frameworks.
Other prominent frameworks used in Ruby development include Cuba, Roda, Goliath, Scorched, Trailblazer, Pakyow, Hobbit, Crepe, and Nancy.
When considering frameworks, we also consider experience with application servers—software frameworks that let the facility create web applications as well as the server environment to run these applications. The factors that decide which app server to choose include the server’s raw speed and its handling of slow clients, slow apps, and slow I/O. The Ruby ecosystem generally uses one of the following four application servers:
It’s a simple, fast, threaded, and highly concurrent HTTP 1.1 server for Ruby/Rack applications. It has gained popularity in the Ruby on Rails programmer community because it can tackle a number of the problems seen in Unicorn, which can exacerbate memory leak issues and open a susceptibility to slow user attacks.
This is an HTTP server for Rack applications designed to serve only fast clients on low-latency, high-bandwidth connections and take advantage of the features in UNIX or UNIX-like kernels. It uses a master/worker architecture, where a master process forks to worker processes and controls them.
It’s an application server for Ruby, Python, and Node.js, optimized for performance, low memory usage, and ease of use. While its open-source version has a multi-process, single-threaded operation mode, its Enterprise version can also be configured to work in multi-threaded mode.
Another popular option among Ruby on Rails programmers, Thin claims to be the most secure, stable, fast, and extensible among Ruby web servers. It’s designed to work within any framework implementing the Rack specification by loading Rack configuration files directly. Thin is also capable of handling long-running requests.
Along with the above, we test the companies’ expertise in a range of other tools essential to the Ruby development environment:
Gems are software packages or libraries that run like applications and serve specific functions. As the name suggests, these are gems used to test the code. Some important testing gems are as follows:
RSpec is a domain-specific language testing tool that describes how the code behaves from the perspective of methods and classes. This is different from describing how the application works.
Minitest provides a complete suite of testing facilities for Ruby. It’s part of the Ruby standard library (in Ruby 1.9 and above) and supports behavior-driven development, mocking, and benchmarking.
Capybara helps Ruby developers test web applications by simulating how a real user would interact with the app. It can receive pages, parse the HTML, and submit forms.
FactoryBot provides factory methods to create text fixtures for automated software testing. In Ruby on Rails, it can replace Rails’s built-in fixture mechanism, allowing Ruby on Rails developers to define a different setup for each test and avoid dependencies within the test suite.
VCR works in combination with another gem called WebMock to record HTTP responses made by the code. These recordings, known as “cassettes,” can help developers get faster responses without having to write long codes since they don’t have to ask the real API.
Different projects might require different versions of Ruby to be installed on the same device. A version manager helps developers switch easily between different versions so they can work on multiple projects at the same time. Version managers also facilitate smooth coordination between distributed teams and can allow developers to revert specific files or the entire project to a previous state. The most popular version managers are these:
Widely considered the norm by many Ruby development teams, Ruby Version Manager (RVM) is a command-line tool that allows easy installation and management and makes it easy to work with multiple Ruby environments, from interpreters to sets of gems. It lets developers deploy each project with its own completely self-contained and dedicated environment, including the gems required for each application.
rbenv has a contrasting approach to RVM in that it’s lightweight and keeps things simple. It lets other tools handle a number of aspects of the process and focuses only on Ruby versioning. A Ruby on Rails development company might prefer it over RVM because it doesn’t override the cd shell command to load environment variables, which can cause unexpected behavior. rbenv uses something known as shims to execute commands, which is a simpler way for the system to choose which Ruby version to execute.
Git is a more agnostic version management tool. It’s popular for its superfast speed, efficient performance, cross-platform usage, easy tracking of code changes, and easy maintenance, as well as a GUI that can speed up a number of steps.
Code review tools or code analyzers help Ruby on Rails developers keep their code clean and organized while developing a large Rails application. Here are some of the common tools in this category:
This is a static code analyzer that can be used to check if the code complies with the Ruby community code guidelines. Its main advantage is its high configurability, achieved partly through four sub-analyzers (called “cops”). The developer can specify which cops to use, which files to include or exclude, and make use of other configuration options.
SimpleCov provides an efficient way for a Ruby on Rails development company to assess the effectiveness of code-testing. When this gem is run with a Rails application, it counts the number of times each line of application code is run during the test suite.
A relatively new gem, RubyCritic packs the functionality of three older static analysis gems—Reek, Flay, and Flog—and helps with code duplication detection and other types of analysis by creating nicely structured HTML files. This type of output also makes it easy to overview and comment with other team members.
This static code analyzer detects code smells (a source code characteristic that indicates a deeper problem) in Rails-specific coding. Moreover, it offers suggestions like adding database indexes and restricting auto-generated routes to let the developer refactor the code and learn the best practices.
Most web applications require an authorization system, which controls what a user is allowed to do. Ruby on Rails programmers have specific gems like the following to help with this:
Devise is more an authentication gem than an authorization one in that it verifies who users are through a username and password combination.
OmniAuth is a library that standardizes multi-provider authentication for web applications. The combination of Devise and OmniAuth makes it really simple to set up social media login buttons with less than a dozen lines of code.
The authorization scheme generally seen in applications tends to be set up ad hoc and leads to very messy view code, with several “if/then”-type statements littered throughout. CanCanCan makes Ruby on Rails development much easier because it elegantly defines user access permissions by defining the authorization scheme centrally.
SOAP, or Simple Object Access Protocol, is an XML-based protocol for accessing web services over HTTP. The SOAP web services architecture is based on interactions between three components—a service provider, a service requester, and an optional service registry. WashOut is a gem that greatly simplifies the creation of SOAP service providers.
In any web application, there are some tasks that are processed outside the usual request-response workflow, mainly because they require more time to complete. These are known as background or asynchronous jobs. The most commonly used tools for this purpose in the Ruby development environment are the following:
This is an open-source job scheduler that uses Redis, the extremely popular in-memory data store, to process jobs in a “first in/first out” sequence. Sidekiq’s advantages include its high speed and built-in dashboard to view all job queues.
Resque is another popular Redis-backed tool for creating background jobs, placing these jobs in multiple queues, and processing them later. These background jobs can be any Ruby class or module that responds to “perform.”
An interactive shell is a tool that allows Ruby programs and statements to be run interactively from a command line. A Ruby on Rails developer can use it for debugging programs and troubleshooting gems.
Interactive Ruby Shell is the default interactive programming environment that comes with Ruby. It provides command history, line editing, and job control—and it can communicate directly as a shell script over the internet and interact with a live server.
Pry is a runtime developer console and an alternative to IRB. It tries to bring what’s known as REPL-driven programming (Read, Eval, Print, Loop) to Ruby. The advantages it might offer a Ruby development company include its flexibility—it allows significant user customization—as well as several other features like syntax highlighting, source code browsing, a live help system, and command shell integration.
An Integrated Development Environment is a software application for computer programming consisting of three main parts: the source code editor (to write the program code), the build automation tool (to compile the code), and the debugger (to test the code for errors).
A deployment automation tool simplifies the process of making a new version of an application available on one or more web servers while also handling supporting tasks such as changing the databases.
Capistrano, an open-source tool distributed using the RubyGems distribution channel, is by far the most popular option for deployment automation with Ruby on Rails. In the simplest terms, it allows a developer to copy code from the source control repository to the server via SSH (a protocol to operate network services securely over an unsecured network) and perform critical pre- and post-deployment functions.
Ruby on Rails developers also need to have a strong understanding of database management systems (DBMS). Traditionally, it’s the relational DBMS like MySQL or Postgres that are useful in web development. However, in the last decade or so, non-relational DBMSs, which deal with data modeled differently from the tabular relations used in relational databases, have become popular as well.
Popular non-relational DBMSs include MongoDB, Redis, Amazon DynamoDB, Couchbase, and HBase. Even though these are rarely used in the Ruby on Rails environment, we’ve included companies that rely on them so you have multiple options to consider.
Object-relational mapping is a programming technique that converts data between incompatible type systems using OOP languages. In other words, it connects the rich objects of an application to the data in a database management system. The tools available to Ruby on Rails developers for ORM include the following:
Active Record is the default ORM layer supplied with Rails. It provides an interface and binding between the tables in a relational database and the Ruby program code that manipulates the database records. Active Record is generally used with relational databases.
Mongoid is the mapping tool for MongoDB, a popular non-relational database management system, written in Ruby. It incorporates the features of Active Record along with MongoDB’s schema-less and performant document-based design. Beyond this, the purpose of the tool is the same as any standard mapper used for Ruby web development.
One of the final, but no less important, steps in our evaluation is the assessment of each developer team’s communication style. Based on industry standards, we rate companies higher if they follow SCRUM, where project managers frequently communicate with product owners and send regular updates on completed tasks and overall progress.
Working with Ruby isn’t very common, so it isn’t cheap—nor should it be. There are certain industry standards that companies adhere to, and any significant differences (either on the lower or the higher end of the scale) are an indicator that something’s off. In these cases, we skip ranking that company in our table.
We’ve taken care to ensure that every company on our list satisfies a high standard of service. However, we also understand that every project has its own specific requirements, which can’t necessarily be fulfilled by every development company. Therefore, here are a few additional steps you need to take to make sure you hire the right partner.
Having a clear understanding of the work you need to have done (including timelines, deliverables, and targets) is the first step toward successfully shortlisting your companies and ultimately finding your best match. You can’t hire the right Ruby on Rails developer for you if you aren’t sure what you’re hiring them for.
The next step is to make sure that the company’s past experience—as gathered from their portfolio and case studies—reflects the kind of work you want to see done. It’s equally important that you check if the company has experience working with companies of your size and from your industry niche.
Finally, you have to define the resources you can allocate for the project and compare them against the rates of the companies on the list. Once you’re done with all these steps, you should be able to find the Ruby on Rails development company that fits your needs to a T.