Generators/Scaffolding – Provide a very good starting point for developing around. Some PHP frameworks now provide scaffolding features.
Gems/Plugins – the Rails community provides a wealth of plugins as Ruby Gems that you simply add to your project Gemfile and install. This significantly accelerates development and maintenance time as you’re not trying to integrate disparate libraries, it’s already done for you.
- Integrated testing tools – Rails has a testing framework that can be used. In PHP, many frameworks have only recently been trying to integrate PHPUnit, to varying degrees of success.
As a programming language, Ruby is really quite an amazing language. Unlike PHP, it really is Object Oriented from the ground up. Its code is very concise and powerful. Gems (extensions) enable you to bolt on needed functionality. After coding in Ruby, you find coding in PHP (or anything else really) rather tedious.
Ruby on Rails Developers are more expensive and harder to find. The good developers who really know Ruby and Rails tend to be more hardcore devs.
PHP is a friendlier entry point into web development than Ruby/Rails. It’s easier, there are more resources available and you can get results fast (it might be hackish at times, but it works).
Ruby/Rails is superior to PHP + existing PHP frameworks (in my opinion). You will enjoy working with Ruby/Rails much much more than PHP. However, really this is not “easier” than PHP. It’s more “automated” so development can be faster, but it definitely does not lower the bar for entry.