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Sameer Kumar
Sameer Kumar

Posted on • Originally published at

Why is Shopify using "Ruby on Rails" to build its $3 billion dollar e-commerce business?

It would be an understatement to say Shopify is the unicorn of the eCommerce business. Shopify is used by millions of merchants all over the world to build their online presence and market their products. Started by 3 Canadians in 2004, inspired by their poor online shopping experience, Shopify has been significantly gaining new ground every day. According to research reports, its global e-commerce is forecasted to be $4.95 trillion by 2022- an almost 400% increase in eight years.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is the present-day example of a well-structured, complex, and user-friendly eCommerce website built using Ruby on Rails. It is basically a Software-as-a-Service platform that gives entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs the opportunity to create a secure online store with wider features and choices to select their best payment gateways out of hundreds of possible options. For the advanced user, there is an option to edit the ready-made design templates. Even at the scale of processing millions of requests per minute (RPM), Shopify offers a lot more than an e-commerce sales platform. And, this is amazing.

Why does Shopify use Ruby on Rails?

For the uninitiated, Ruby on Rails is very much prevalent in the present day. It is forming a niche because of its vast usage among millions of websites. Ruby on Rails is no longer a one advantage wonder web development framework. What makes it different is its effective development time, super-fast deployment, user-friendliness, etc.

When Shopify was launched, at that time RoR was very popular. It was a promising framework and it is now. RoR helped Shopify to grow relatively at the same time as its number of users increased. This scalability feature of ruby on rails made it a favorite for the founders as it perfectly answers the rising demands of the new client, product additions, feature releases, and much more. The RoR architecture was famous for its modularity which means that the system can be divided into modules and gems. It was suitable for the twelve-factor app principles, which allowed it to be scaled in a natural way.

The main idea was to create a platform where the tool merchants can build their own online store and sell their products easily. Bringing such a powerful platform requires overcoming a lot of technical challenges such as a secure infrastructure for proper user data handling, larger database sets, API creation, third-party integration, and availability issues. This is where RoR saves the bill.

  • Ruby on rails is known as a mature, and stable technology. It means when hundreds of merchants use Shopify they feel the ease of app operation and significant efficiency in the performance of the platform by removing any lags that occur. The framework uses the best coding principles like DRY (Donโ€™t Repeat Yourself) and KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) that guide the developers in keeping the code clean.
  • RoR is agile and supports quick application development. It takes very little time to write and maintain the apps as compared to other programming languages. Its open-source library, 150k+ Gems, and undying support of the RoR community have been helping in improving the development workflow and allowing quick development of almost any idea. Using RoR, a merchant can reduce their store build time by 25โ€“45% and reduce their time to go live in the market drastically.
  • RoR provides out-of-the-box security. They have default security headers that defend applications from clickjacking. Like, XSS is protected by default. Its SQL injection is managed by the default Rails object-relational mapper (ORM), Active Record. All the string text is escaped before being sent to the browser.
  • The configurations, practices can change from one developer to another based on their personal choices. RoR uses a software engineering principle called Convention over Configuration (CoC) which is hugely followed by developers all around the world. When working in a team, it is hard to review and keep track of one anotherโ€™s code. But, through CoC, one can know how to connect URL paths to application logic, and database tables and columns.
  • Also, RoR uses MVC architecture. This allows the extensibility and modularity of apps in the Shopify platform. Therefore, no matter its complexity, a merchant can easily add new features to their online store in Shopify taking the help of a developer.
  • When building an online store, there is always scope for integrating more functionality. Having few custom apps can validate a variety of merchant needs. For example, reading and writing the data in response to user input or an event, adding any new functionality to the existing components of Shopify admin, and/or changing how the store shows information.

Final Thoughts

In the present day, e-commerce with Ruby on Rails is more relevant than ever. As the companies face imminent losses due to unseen circumstances, geographical preferences, customer needs, and much more, the companies aim to save more money, while reaching more customers. And, having a mobile eCommerce platform with RoR can reduce that operational burden by half.

Name it and RoR has it all: payment gateways, campaign platforms, merchant helpdesks, etc. If you are planning to build an online shop, RoR has one of the best development frameworks as it includes many gems built particularly for e-commerce. Unique merchants deserve unique solutions. If you need to cover an extra mile for mature technology and a competent app development partner, that technology is Ruby on Rails and the partner is RailsFactory.

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