A Beginner's Guide to Using MySQL in a Ruby on Rails Application

In this guide, we will explore the basics of using MySQL in a Ruby on Rails application, including installation, setup, and common database operations.

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MySQL is a widely used open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) known for its speed, reliability, and ease of use. Ruby on Rails, often referred to as Rails, is a powerful web application framework that simplifies web development. In this guide, we will explore the basics of using MySQL in a Ruby on Rails application, including installation, setup, and common database operations.


Before we dive into using MySQL with Ruby on Rails, ensure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  1. Ruby: You should have Ruby installed on your system. You can download it from the official Ruby website.

  2. Ruby on Rails: Install Ruby on Rails using the following command:

    gem install rails
  3. MySQL: Install MySQL if you haven’t already. You can download it from the MySQL website.

  4. MySQL Ruby Gem: You’ll need the mysql2 gem, which is the MySQL adapter for Ruby. Install it using gem:

    gem install mysql2

Setting Up a Rails Application

Let’s start by creating a new Ruby on Rails application that will use MySQL as its database.

rails new my_rails_app -d mysql

In the above command:

  • my_rails_app is the name of your Rails application.
  • -d mysql specifies that we want to use MySQL as the database.

Configuring the Database

Rails uses a configuration file located at config/database.yml for MySQL configuration. Open this file and replace its contents with the following:

default: &default
  adapter: mysql2
  encoding: utf8
  pool: <%= ENV.fetch("RAILS_MAX_THREADS") { 5 } %>
  username: your_mysql_username
  password: your_mysql_password
  host: localhost

  <<: *default
  database: myapp_development

  <<: *default
  database: myapp_test

  <<: *default
  database: myapp_production
  username: myapp
  password: <%= ENV['MYAPP_DATABASE_PASSWORD'] %>

Replace your_mysql_username and your_mysql_password with your MySQL credentials. You can also adjust other settings as needed.

Database Migration

In Rails, database migrations are used to create and manage database tables and schema changes. Let’s create a simple example to demonstrate this:

rails generate model User name:string email:string

This command generates a User model with name and email attributes. Now, run the migration to create the corresponding table in the MySQL database:

rails db:migrate

Performing Database Operations

With your Rails application set up and the MySQL database configured, you can now perform common database operations.

Inserting Data

To insert data into the MySQL table, you can use the Rails console:

rails console

In the console, you can create and save new records:

user = User.new(name: 'John Doe', email: '[email protected]')

Querying Data

To query data from the MySQL table, you can use Rails ActiveRecord queries. For example, to retrieve all users:

users = User.all

Updating Data

Updating data in Rails is straightforward. For example, to update a user’s email:

user = User.find_by(name: 'John Doe')
user.update(email: '[email protected]')

Deleting Data

To delete a record:

user = User.find_by(name: 'John Doe')

Handling Errors

In a real application, it’s crucial to handle errors gracefully. Ensure that you use error handling techniques, such as rescue blocks, to handle exceptions that may occur during database operations.


MySQL is a reliable and widely adopted RDBMS that pairs well with Ruby on Rails for web application development. In this guide, we’ve covered the basics of using MySQL in a Ruby on Rails application, from installation and setup to common database operations. As you continue to develop your Rails application, you can explore more advanced features and optimizations provided by MySQL to create efficient and scalable web applications.