Why Is It Important to Upgrade Your Rails Application?
Technology evolves quickly. When you first created your Rails application, it's likely you did it using the latest version of Rails. As time passes, however, new Rails versions come out and your application becomes more and more out of touch with the latest version. But why is this important? Why does it matter?
There are several different reasons to upgrade your Rails application. In this article, I’ll list what we consider to be the most important ones.
Security is a big issue. You want your application to be as safe as possible and, to accomplish that, one of the pivotal things to do is to make sure Ruby on Rails is up to date. Ruby on Rails is the application framework underlying everything your web application does.
As new threats arise, new versions contain security patches to protect you against them. Being up to date on your Rails version allows you to rapidly apply the newest security patches to your application.
For example, if your application is on Rails 4.2, then you're probably exposed to the vulnerabilities described here.
Additionally, a great service you can use is Dependabot. It will help you keep your dependencies secure and up-to-date.
This is another big point. Users want to be able to do things and they want to be able to do it fast. Websites and applications are getting bigger and bigger. This creates a big demand for speed.
With almost every new Rails version comes new performance upgrades. Upgrading your Rails application ensures it is up to date with the newest performance upgrades.
Of course you want your application to be stable. But your app's stability takes a hit when new bugs are discovered. And in the same way you don’t want to leave bugs discovered within your application unaddressed, you also don’t want bugs discovered in your application’s framework unaddressed. Whenever a new bug is discovered by the Rails community or by the creators, it’ll usually be fixed by the next release.
Upgrading your Rails application ensures you apply those bug fixes to your app.
Improvements to the Ruby Language
Rails is a framework. Ruby is the underlying programming language. You can think of it as Ruby being the bricks and Rails being prefabricated houses. You need the bricks to build the houses. So you need bricks that will allow your prefabricated houses to be built.
It is the same with programming languages and frameworks. You want to take advantage of the evolution of the programming language as it gets more powerful and flexible. Upgrading your Rails application ensures you can also take advantage of the latest improvements to the Ruby language.
New Gems and Ecosystem Updates
Rails depends on gems and libraries. These gems and libraries are also evolving and improving as Rails evolves and improves.
Since Rails depends on these gems and libraries (which allow developers to solve fundamental problems faster), keeping up to date with your Rails version allows you to take advantage of the improvements to these gems and libraries improvements, as well as taking advantage of new gems.
There are many different reasons to upgrade your Rails application. The 5 listed above are what we consider to be the most important and should already tell you staying up to date with the latest version of Rails is beneficial to your app.
If you need some guidance on upgrading your Rails application check out our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Upgrade Rails