RailGuides on Active Record

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There’s not a whole lot to say about the individual courses, so I’m going to cram a few into a single post here.

  • Active Record Basics: A good overview of Active Record, expanding upon the concepts introduced during the Getting Started guide. As a Rails novice, the conventions around naming and schema are fascinating. The goal is clearly “do what the user meant” and the magic sure looks impressive up front. But I know from experience, when the magic fails and the user has to deal with the raw guts, it might be unpleasant.
  • Active Record Migrations: This is where I started feeling like I could use more guidance. It feels like the intended audience is already well versed in database concepts… which I am not.
  • Active Record Validations: This one feels like a fairly straightforward view of doing data checks using Ruby code instead of SQL. It even goes into some detail on when you’d want to use Ruby vs. directly in the database. (Not that I necessarily understood all of it…)
  • Active Record Callbacks: Life cycle of an Active Record and when/where I can place some code of my own to look at the latest data. I don’t think this will really sink in until I see a situation where I need it.
  • Active Record Associations: I started getting in over my head here. I think I would do better if I knew more about designing database schema, but I did not. As a result the associations feel like a toolbox full of tools I don’t know how to use on problems.
  • Active Record Query Interface: If somebody can think in SQL, this section will explain how Rails features are mapped to SQL queries behind the scenes and vice versa. Sadly I’m too rusty in SQL for this section to be particularly enlightening.

For me, the general theme here is: Good, except the parts that expect me to have more SQL database knowledge than I actually do. I plan to come back and review this information later, but between now and then, I think it’d be a good idea to brush up on my SQL.

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