By Nikhil Abraham

Ruby is a general purpose programming language typically used for web development. Ruby makes it easy to store data after the user has navigated away from the page or closed the browser, and create, update, store, and retrieve that data in a database.

For example, imagine you wanted to create a social networking website like Twitter. The content you write in a tweet is stored in a central database. You can exit your browser, and turn off your computer, but if you come back to the website later your tweets are still accessible to you. Additionally, if others search for you or keywords in the tweets you have written, this same central database is queried, and any matches are displayed.

Ruby developers frequently perform tasks like storing information in a database, and a Ruby framework called Rails speeds up development by including pre-built code, templates, and easy ways to perform these tasks. For these reasons, websites frequently use Ruby and Rails together.

A website using the Rails framework is referred to as being built with Rails or “Ruby on Rails”.

Twitter’s website was one of the most trafficked websites to use Ruby on Rails, and until 2010 used Ruby code for its search and messaging products. Other websites currently using Ruby on Rails include:

  • E-commerce websites such as those on the Shopify platform, including The Chivery and Black Milk Clothing.

  • Music websites such as SoundCloud.

  • Social networking sites such as Yammer.

  • News websites such as Bloomberg.

As shown, Ruby and Rails can create a variety of websites. While Rails emphasizes productivity, allowing developers to quickly write code and test prototypes, some developers criticize Ruby and Rails for not being scalable, and use as evidence Twitter rewriting their code to stop using Rails for many core features. While you cannot resolve the productivity-scalability debate here, Rails can adequately handle millions of visitors per month, and no matter the language used, significant work must be done to scale a website to properly handle tens or hundreds of millions of visitors a month.

Confirm the programming language used by these or any major website with BuiltWith. After entering the website address in the search bar, look under the Frameworks section for Ruby on Rails.