I’ve done some work integrating Rails apps with Salesforce over the past few years, and have been very happy to see the new databasedotcom gem take the place of the community’s older activesalesforce gem. Thanks to work from Heroku and Pivotal Labs, it’s now very easy to push and pull data between a Rails app and your Salesforce organization.
I wrote up an article about using the gem, which is now available on the DeveloperForce site. You can go and check it out at http://wiki.developerforce.com/page/Accessing_Salesforce_Data_From_Ruby. I hope it helps get your started if you’re finding a need to do this sort of work. So many companies rely on Salesforce now for at least their sales pipeline that it can be extremely useful to do things like extract data to show in an internal Rails dashboard, or do more complex reporting. In our case we’re also sourcing data from external places and pushing it into our Salesforce organization so that our sales/support folks can have easy access to it within their Salesforce world.