Ruby on Rails to NodeJS

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How to convert from Ruby on Rails to NodeJS

Converting a Ruby on Rails application to NodeJS can be a daunting task, especially for developers who are proficient in Ruby on Rails but less experienced with NodeJS. This guide will help you understand the step-by-step process to transition your Ruby on Rails application to NodeJS, covering key areas such as framework choices, database migration, and handling asynchronous operations. By the end of this guide, you'll have a clearer understanding of the conversion process, making it simpler to transform your Rails application to NodeJS efficiently.

Understanding Framework Differences

Ruby on Rails and NodeJS have different core philosophies and frameworks. Ruby on Rails is built around convention over configuration, providing a lot of built-in functionality. NodeJS, on the other hand, is more modular and lightweight, giving you the freedom to choose your own adventure.

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails is a full-stack web application framework that includes:

  • ActiveRecord: An object-relational mapping (ORM) framework for database interaction.
  • ActionController: The controller of the MVC structure.
  • ActionView: For handling views and templates.
  • Embedded DSLs: For routing, migrations, tests, etc.


NodeJS is a runtime for JavaScript that runs on the server side and uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model. Key frameworks often used with NodeJS include:

  • Express.js: A minimalist web framework for creating robust APIs.
  • Sequelize or Mongoose: For ORM/ODM relationships.
  • EJS, Pug, or Handlebars: For handling views and templates.

Setting Up Your NodeJS Environment

Before converting your code, you need to set up a NodeJS environment. This involves installing NodeJS and npm (Node Package Manager) to manage your project dependencies.

  1. Install NodeJS and npm:

    sudo apt-get install nodejs
    sudo apt-get install npm
  2. Initialize a new NodeJS project:

    mkdir my-node-app
    cd my-node-app
    npm init -y
  3. Install necessary packages:

    npm install express sequelize body-parser

Converting Routing Logic

In Ruby on Rails, routes are defined in the config/routes.rb file. For example:

Rails.application.routes.draw do
  resources :articles
  root 'welcome#index'

In NodeJS with Express.js, the routes would look like this:

const express = require('express');
const app = express();

app.get('/', (req, res) => res.send('Welcome'));
app.get('/articles', articleController.index);'/articles', articleController.create);

app.listen(3000, () => console.log('Server running on port 3000'));

Migrating Models and Database Relationships

Ruby on Rails uses ActiveRecord for ORM, whereas in NodeJS, you have options like Sequelize. Here is how you can convert a simple model:

Ruby on Rails Model

class Article < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :author

Sequelize Model in NodeJS

const { Sequelize, DataTypes } = require('sequelize');
const sequelize = new Sequelize('sqlite::memory:');

const Article = sequelize.define('Article', {
  title: {
    type: DataTypes.STRING,
    allowNull: false,
  body: {
    type: DataTypes.TEXT,

const Author = sequelize.define('Author', {
  name: DataTypes.STRING


module.exports = { Article, Author };

Handling Asynchronous Operations

One of the most significant differences between Ruby on Rails and NodeJS is handling asynchronous operations. In Ruby, operations are typically synchronous and blocking, while in NodeJS, they are non-blocking and asynchronous.

Ruby on Rails

def fetch_data
  data = SomeExternalService.get_data

NodeJS with Async/Await

async function fetchData() {
  try {
    let data = await someExternalService.getData();
    return data;
  } catch (error) {
    console.error("Error fetching data", error);

Managing Middleware

Middleware in Ruby on Rails is often handled by before_action filters. In NodeJS with Express, middleware is set up using the app.use function.

Ruby on Rails Middleware

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
  before_action :authenticate_user!

Express Middleware in NodeJS

function authenticateUser(req, res, next) {
  if (req.isAuthenticated()) {
    return next();
  } else {


Final Thoughts

Transitioning from Ruby on Rails to NodeJS involves a fundamental shift in how you approach building web applications. Understanding these differences is crucial for a successful migration. With NodeJS, you have the flexibility to choose your architecture and tools, which can result in a highly performant and scalable application. By following the steps outlined, you'll have the foundation needed to convert your Ruby on Rails application to NodeJS.

Remember, this conversion is not just a direct code translation but also an opportunity to rethink and optimize your application architecture. The key to a successful migration is to take it step-by-step, ensuring each part of your application is thoroughly tested and functions as expected.

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