Where to start?

Hello!! I have been interested in learning RoR since I was first introduced in 2006. Although my career tends to limit free time for programming, I have recently set a goal to teach myself RoR, or at least the basics, by the end of the year. I set out to find some instructional books so I can still learn when I can't be in front of the computer.

I discovered the O'Reilly series of books and thought it would be a great start. I first read Learning Ruby by Michael Fitzgerald. At this particular time I couldn't be near my home or computer, but I was so excited that I read the whole book anyways. My intention was to set a foundation of knowledge BEFORE going back to the beginning and trying the examples a few days later.

When I finally got home to try out some magic, not much seemed to work. I went back to the book and tried a few examples (the ones I remembered wanting to try the first time I read through) and that didn't work either. Very confused, I set about to figure out where I went wrong.

I think my problems seems to be that the books were written for older versions of Ruby/Rails. I really didn't expect that the platform had changed much, but it appears I could be very wrong. It was discouraging to know that I may have wasted my time and money on these books, and for awhile, made me reconsider wanting to learn more.

To sum it all up, I would like to get some opinions of those who know more about this: Is it important to learn about previous versions, or should I just find the latest, greatest book on the market? Where do most people (new to the scene) learn what they need to get started? Should I trash those old books, or could they be worthy reference? Should I even continue reading them? Did RoR really change that much in two years (since these books were printed)?

I know it's a lot to ask, but I really need some encouragement to get back on the right path. I would absolutely love to become a member, AND contributor, to the RoR community. Thanks for reading and I hope to read your opinions soon. -JKnowlage

Rails has been changing pretty rapidly, certainly. Back in 2006 it was at version 1.1 or thereabouts and we're now at 2.3, well on the way to 3.0 (and 3.0 will introduce some big changes). A lot of books have found keeping up pretty tough. The 3rd edition of agile web development with rails is pretty good and covers rails 2.2, with online errata covering the differences between 2.2 and 2.3 (which aren't that big). Also worth reading are the guides on guides.rubyonrails.org. Ruby itself has been through some interesting changes, with a stable version of ruby 1.9 finally emerging this year.