So I've been trying to get familiar with both Ruby and Ruby on Rails before class at Code Academy starts, and I wanted to share some of the resources I've been using in case anyone else finds them helpful.
The installation of all the equipment necessary for Rails applications was a beastly task. Chapter 1 of Michael Hartl's Ruby on Rails Tutorial was where I started the installation process, by installing Git and Ruby Version Manager (RVM). Then, I tried to install Ruby 1.9.3 through RVM, but failed. Googled the error and found out that if you have Xcode on your machine1 prior to installing Ruby 1.9.3 with RVM, your computer may have a small seizure.
That's when I found the lovely website: Installing Ruby 1.9 and Rails 3 on Mac OS X. It's written in plain English and walks you through the entire installation process of GCC, Command Line Tools for Xcode (if you need it), Git, RVM, Ruby 1.9.3, SQLite3, and Rails.
If I were to do it over again, I would start by following all the steps on Installing Ruby 1.9 and Rails 3 on Mac OS X. Then, I would read Chapter 1 of the Ruby on Rails Tutorial to check for other things that I still need to do - like creating GitHub2 and Heroku accounts.
To get familiar with Ruby, I went through the Chris Pines' Learn to Program Tutorial. It's a fun journey, and he gives really good examples.
For Rails, I've been going through the Ruby on Rails Tutorial. You get to make a real web application with an attractive design, secure user registration, and sign-in/sign-out capabilities. While teaching you to build your own web app, he also teaches about various Gems, Test-Driven Development (TDD), and the Model-View-Controller (MVC) paradigm.
I've also been pair programming with Kori Roys. It's amazing how much faster you learn when you have someone to answer any question that pops into your head. The other day we started a project where you build a client that interacts with Twitter through Ruby. I recommend going through the tutorial and referencing GitHub if you get stuck.
1 Incidentally, there is no reason you need to have Xcode on your machine. Xcode is an IDE, and the consensus I've heard among developers so far is that text editors are the better method for creating apps, because there are fewer limits with text editors. However, after I got my Mac, I couldn't resist checking out the Developer section of the App Store, and downloading the "hottest" free developer tool. Lesson learned.
2 If you have problems installing Git and GitHub, the GitHub set-up page is extremely helpful.