Create a Simple Ruby on Rails Application

Learn the basics of creating a simple Ruby on Rails application with step-by-step instructions for making a simple "Hello world" application. This tutorial is a beginner's guide for Ruby on Rails, and is designed for users with no prior Ruby on Rails experience.


  • A Cloud Server running Linux (Ubuntu 16.04 or CentOS 7)
  • Ruby on Rails installed and running.
  • If you have a firewall, you will need to allow access to port 3000.

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Install a JavaScript Runtime

You will need to install a JavaScript runtime. Begin by installing the ExecJS gem, which allows you to run JavaScript code with Ruby:

gem install execjs

If you have a preferred runtime, feel free to install it next. Otherwise, we will install Node.JS for this project.

Ubuntu 16.04

Update your server's packages and install curl with the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install curl

Download the Node.js PPA:

curl -sL -o

Run the command to add the PPA to your server's package cache:

sudo bash

This script will update the server automatically. There is no need to run apt-get update a second time.

Install Node.js:

sudo apt-get install nodejs

This will automatically install npm as well.

Finally, install the build-essential package for npm:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

CentOS 7

Add the EPEL repository:

sudo yum install epel-release

Then install Node.JS:

sudo yum install nodejs

Finally, install the Node Package Manager (npm):

sudo yum install npm

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The MVC Design

Ruby on Rails uses MVC-based design. MVC stands for Model/View/Controller, and describes the three basic components of a Ruby on Rails app.


The model refers to the database. All of the application's data is stored in the model. Rails uses SQLite by default, but it also supports MySQL and PostgreSQL.


The controllers are a set of files which specify which actions to take. The controllers store and retrieve data from the model (database) as needed, and uses this data (as defined by actions) to create the view.

Controllers are directed by routes. These are the rules that define which controllers will perform which actions. Routes are defined in the routes.rb file.


The view is the end result, what a visitor sees in a browser. It is the response to the actions that are defined by the controllers - the product of all of your hard work on the back-end.

Create and Test the Application Structure

The rails new command will create a file structure for your app. Go to the directory where you want to store Ruby on Rails projects and use the command:

rails new hello-world

Remember to be logged in as the Ruby user.

At this point you can do a quick test to make sure that Ruby on Rails is set up and running correctly. Go to the new hello-world directory which was created by the previous command:

cd hello-world

Start the web server with the command:

bin/rails s --binding= 

It should say:

[user@localhost blog]$ bin/rails server
=> Booting Puma
=> Rails application starting in development on http://localhost:3000
=> Run `rails server -h` for more startup options
Puma starting in single mode...
* Version 3.6.0 (ruby 2.3.1-p112), codename: Sleepy Sunday Serenity
* Min threads: 5, max threads: 5
* Environment: development
* Listening on tcp://localhost:3000
Use Ctrl-C to stop

Test it by going to http://your-ip:3000 you should see the default rails welcome page.

When you are done testing the Rails installation, hit Ctrl+C to stop the application and return to the command line.

Create the Application

Create the Controller and Action

We will begin by generating a controller called mainpage:

rails generate controller mainpage

This will create a number of files:

[user@localhost hello-world]$ rails generate controller mainpage
Running via Spring preloader in process 24461
      create  app/controllers/mainpage_controller.rb
      invoke  erb
      create    app/views/mainpage
      invoke  test_unit
      create    test/controllers/mainpage_controller_test.rb
      invoke  helper
      create    app/helpers/mainpage_helper.rb
      invoke    test_unit
      invoke  assets
      invoke    coffee
      create      app/assets/javascripts/
      invoke    scss
     create      app/assets/stylesheets/mainpage.scss

The first one listed in the command output (app/controllers/mainpage_controller.rb) is the one we will use. Open this file for editing:

nano app/controllers/mainpage_controller.rb

We will add an action named hello. Add the following content to this file:

class MainpageController < ApplicationController
  def hello

Save and exit the file.

Create the View

Next, we will create a matching view, also named hello:

nano app/views/mainpage/hello.html.erb

Add the HTML message to this file:

<h1>Hello, world!</h1>

Save and exit the file.

Create the Route

The route is a rule that will tell Rails which controller to use for this request. Edit the routes.rb file:

nano config/routes.rb

Add the line root to: 'mainpage#hello' below the first line, so that the file reads as follows:

Rails.application.routes.draw do
  root to: 'mainpage#hello'
  # For details on the DSL available within this file, see

This line tells Rails that the root directory / will serve up our controller's action.

Test the Application

Start the Rails server again with the command:

bin/rails s --binding=

Then test the application by going to http://your-ip:3000. You will see the "Hello, World!" message.