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Is Ruby on Rails a Good Framework for Building a SaaS product?

Although it was created over two decades ago, Ruby still ranks among the top 10 most popular languages in the tech industry. It owes its popularity to the Ruby on Rails (RoR) framework that for the last 10 years offered developers access to an impressive library of features and a vibrant community.

Over the years, Ruby on Rails established itself as a suitable framework for building SaaS products.

Here's why Rails is a good candidate as your framework of choice for creating a fantastic SaaS product.

The Basics of Building SaaS

SaaS refers to Software-as-a-Service, a web-based cloud service that offers users remote access to software. All it takes is a device with an internet connection to access the box version of a ready-to-use product. The main difference between the traditional approach to software management and SaaS lies in the ways you manage and maintain your database, code, and servers.

So which language and framework is best tailored for building a SaaS product?

You can use any language for SaaS development. Languages like PHP, Java, or Python can be easily combined with platforms or tools you will need for your product, such as database systems or software libraries.

However, some languages and technical stacks are better than others. Choosing a language with frameworks and libraries that are tested and proven can save you a lot of time when developing your MVP and significantly reduce development costs.

In general, it's smart to pay attention to four critical traits of the language and framework for your SaaS product: performance, security, flexibility, and scalability.

And Rails delivers all of them. Here's why Ruby on Rails is worth your attention when choosing a language for SaaS development.

Pros and cons of using Rails for SaaS development

Pros

  • It's easy to set up;
  • It speeds up development – Rails is a framework full of proven feature implementations, saving the time of your developers as they simply don't need to reinvent the wheel. Your team will have a huge corpus of libraries at their disposal (both open-source and paid) that will come in handy when developing your domain;
  • Debugging is easy in Rails;
  • The use of Ruby and RoR is continually growing;
  • Since many small companies have adopted Ruby and RoR, the language and its framework are surrounded by a more experimental and exploratory user community;
  • It's easy to source and hire talented developers who know the framework – in fact, your developers might know Ruby and RoR already. If not, training your devs in RoR is a piece of cake;
  • Ruby and RoR work great in agile environments.

Cons

  • Ruby and Ruby on Rails might not run as fast as some other languages;
  • If you're building a multi-tenancy product, Ruby on Rails won't provide you with a built-in module that deals with the problem.

Great SaaS applications built in RoR you should know

Now that you know the pros and cons of developing a SaaS product in Rails, here are some examples of fantastic apps based on the framework:

  • Basecamp – the famous web-based project collaboration tool was launched in 2004, the year when Ruby on Rails came to life. In fact, the framework was extracted from Basecamp by David Heinemeier Hansson who was part of the project's dev team. Rails is still at the core of Basecamp, proving to be a reliable solution that provides speed and scalability. The third version of the software has seen a smashing 99.985% daily uptime since its launch.
  • GitHub – the most popular web-based version control and collaboration platform for developers, GitHub started operating as SaaSback in 2008. GitHub helps devs build software and manage their source code. Today, it’s the most popular option among developers working in open-source, with almost 6 million active users and 20 million active repositories. Have a look here to check GitHub's amazing performance data.
  • Zendesk – a leading cloud-based customer support platform used by over 50,000 organizations all over the world such as Groupon, Vodafone, Uber, and Disney. Customers love Zendesk because it's easy to purchase, implement, and use. The software is reliable and flexible, helping businesses scale their customer support services.
  • Shopify – a top e-commerce platform that allows users to set up their own online stores, Shopify combines top functionality with a clean interface and intuitive design, helping over 300,000 retailers, like Tesla Motors, Forbes, or Maxim Magazine, in 100 countries . As of June 2017, the monthly recurring revenue of Shopify customers amounted to $23.7 million, growing by 64% as compared to the mere $14.4 million generated in June 2016.

Key takeaway

There are many benefits Ruby on Rails brings to a SaaS project. These popular SaaS platforms show that Rails is an excellent framework for building reliable, secure, and scalable software which offers top performance and flexibility.

If you have Ruby and RoR experts on board, choosing the framework for your SaaS product is a no-brainer. However, if your team has expertise in other languages such as PHP or Python, there's no point in making them learn Rails just to deliver your SaaS product. The other languages will work fine. Another attractive solution could be outsourcing the entire development effort by hiring a dedicated Rails team.

In either case, you can be sure that Rails will help developers deliver an app that supports your business model and takes your operations to the next level.

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