How to Build APIs with Ruby on Rails

“Rails is the killer app for Ruby.”

– Yukihiro Matsumoto, Creator of Ruby

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are now pivotal to the universe of applications and developers. APIs are the key to the integrated digital solutions in cars, phones, TVs, and bank accounts, yet most of the general public couldn’t tell you what an API is or what it does. APIs enable seamless communication between the OS, libraries, and apps, transforming complex technology into easily accessible, multi-purpose services such as Facebook, Google Maps, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Amazon Product Advertising. APIs are perfect for sharing code between devs, information between applications, or turning a desktop app into a mobile app.

Ruby on Rails: where’s the beef

It’s been over 15 years since the world was introduced to Ruby on Rails technology, also known as RoR. Ruby on Rails is a server-side web application framework built upon the Ruby programming language. The world of software development is fast-paced, with a vast array of tools. Among those tools, Ruby on Rails has gained a huge following amongst many brands and companies creating dynamic web apps, including Shopify, GitHub, SoundCloud, Hulu, Disney, Airbnb, Basecamp, Kickstarter and many others. We can only guess at the number of indie development shops, startups, and freelancers who also use it.

What Companies Use Ruby on Rails?

RoR is an open source infrastructure with an object-oriented programming structure, aka OOP. Why do so many people love it and use it? Because RoR speeds up the development process. Ruby on Rails is equally friendly to professionals and beginners. RoR is indispensable, if not ideal, for:

  • Complex projects with a vast array of functions
  • Time-sensitive projects to build MVPs or prototypes
  • Difficult and dramatic transformations
  • Heavy web traffic businesses
  • Ongoing projects with constantly varying parameters

If you are in one of these circumstances, why use RoR over other tools? Because of RoR’s features:

  • A huge set of libraries
  • Automatic sensing of simple conventional elements
  • Automatic interface creation
  • Parallel testing
  • Localization via integrating pre-designed code into RoR

Benefits of building APis with Ruby on Rails include:

  • Saving time
  • Simplified tasks
  • Outstanding code targeting
  • Precision and reliability
  • Scaling with no compromise in quality
  • A robust dev community

“Ruby on Rails is a breakthrough in lowering the barriers of entry to programming. Powerful web applications that formerly might have taken weeks or months to develop can be produced in a matter of days.”

— Tim O’Reilly, founder of publisher O’Reilly Media.

For more information, check out this quick and easy Rails API tutorial, a series of short episodes dedicated to specific tasks.

Rest API Ruby on Rails

If you are a software development veteran, you have definitely heard of Rest or Restful concepts. They refer to Representational State Transfer in database-backed web apps. The term pertains to mapping of HTTP verbs to CRUD operations. Restful API is formed on the basis of several principles:

  • Enhanced scalability and portability of the user interface
  • Session state is kept on client (every client-server request must involve an entire data set to make sense of it)
  • Cacheable response (a client is granted a right to use the response data again in case of analogical requests)
  • The API is determined by 4 interface constraints: hypermedia as the engine of application state, manipulation of resources through representations, identification of resources, and self-descriptive messages
  • Hierarchical layer style

Basically, resource is the core Rest abstraction. In other words, any data with a name can present a resource, such as an image, document, etc. A genuinely Restful API looks like hypertext: each addressable information unit contains an address explicitly or implicitly.

A good way to get some Ruby on Rails rest is to run through some lessons, video guides, and courses. This Ruby on Rails API tutorial explains how to build Rest API from scratch using RoR. If you want to invest money and more time, Udemy provides a complete Ruby on Rails Rest API tutorial in 69 lectures. The link includes a preview of the course.

“Before Ruby on Rails, web programming required a lot of verbiage, steps and time. Now, web designers and software engineers can develop a website much faster and more simply, enabling them to be more productive and effective in their work.” 

— Bruce Perens, Open Source luminary and founder of the Open Source Institute


JavaScript Object Notation, aka JSON, is an encoding system that removes the need for ad-hoc code in every app. Programmers can use JSON to directly access data structures and stores, such as fields, types, etc. With a little configuration, Rails can be applied as a JSON API. Using JSON API on Rails, developers can maximize use of the Rails community and apply its design decisions.

To dive deeply into JSON API on Rails, we suggest watching this 14-minute tutorial that will walk you through each step.

“It may sound pretentious, but it is absolutely true that Ruby on Rails revolutionized the dev universe. Since the day it entered the scene fifteen years ago, we acquired a qualitatively new approach to application development. It was a paradigm shift to “convention over configuration” that simplified software development”,

— Vlad Medvedovsky, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Proxet, a custom software development solutions company

It’s difficult to capture RoR’s essence and superpowers when covering the basics. Proxet is proud to have started as RailsReactor for one simple reason: our  experience and success in leveraging RoR and its features. It’s a versatile tool that shines in the hands of skilled people who know how to apply it, when to apply it, and whether it is aligned with your business goals.

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This web-based healthcare application supports over 10,000 current users in researching new cures. Community members can review, monitor and manage their research portfolios.

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This web-based healthcare application supports over 10,000 current users in researching new cures. Community members can review, monitor and manage their research portfolios.

On-Demand Healthcare Analytics

This web-based healthcare application supports over 10,000 current users in researching new cures. Community members can review, monitor and manage their research portfolios.

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