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Rails 4: It's Upgrade Season!

Rails 4: It's Upgrade Season!

We've going through a bit of an upgrade period here at Focus towers. The web framework we use for all our websites is Ruby on Rails, and version 4.0 has just been released.

Major "point" upgrades, when systems go from v3.x to v4.0 are always an exciting, and yet challenging time. Normally major upgrades have exciting new features that we want to use, but the downside is they often require other code or libraries to be upgraded to work correctly.

Ruby on Rails v4.0 requires Ruby 1.9, dropping support for the older Ruby 1.8 series, which means servers running 1.8 need to be upgraded in order to use Rails 4. However, Rails 4 also supports the also-new Ruby 2.0, which brings performance optimisations and other nice language improvements to the table.

The best approach would seem to be to install multiple versions of Ruby on some of our servers, making them able to serve sites both old and new.

This is thankfully easily achievable - IF we upgrade Phusion Passenger, which serves our Rails sites on our production server to v4.0, which is the first version to support multiple Ruby versions at the same time!

So, we find ourselves wanting to upgrade to Rails 4.0, Ruby 2.0 and Phusion Passenger 4.0 at the same time in order to achieve what we want! It's an exciting time, but also one that involves a lot of testing!

Version numbers aside, you may be wondering what the point of these upgrades is. It's generally true that a website created in Rails 4 can't (from a user viewpoint) really achieve anything that fundamentally a website in Rails 3 (or even 2, or 1) can. (There are a few specific exceptions, but I'll leave these for now!)

Rails 4 brings the developers some nice additional tools to the table, meaning we can write code in simpler, better and more consistent ways. This helps us write code quicker and reduces the possibility of making any errors.

The main customer-facing improvement, however, is probably performance - Rails 4 gives us some great tools (such as "turbo links" and "russian doll caching", believe it or not!) to make your websites run faster for your users.

Everyone is clamouring for more speed on websites these days - figures show that faster websites convert customers better (and generate more revenue), and Google is factoring load speed into it's ranking - meaning faster websites could rank better in the natural listings.

Therefore, it's great for everyone that we're getting an even better set of tools for making your websites run faster.

If you'd like to know more about any of our technologies, or would like to talk to us about website performance, please do get in touch!

Neil Smith

Created on Wednesday August 14 2013 12:17 PM

Tags: rubyonrails ruby

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