Instant review: Ruby

2007-04-27 13:05

I like to learn new programming languages from time to time. Some, I like better than others; I put in a few years on the ISO C committee (and I’d still be there if I had funding). Others, I don’t like so much; my first gut response to PHP was “I think this language may be uglier than perl”, and the impression has stuck with me.

One of my friends recommended that I look at Ruby. I was not initially well-disposed towards Ruby; the first time someone pointed me at some material about it, the tone was practically cultish; I felt more like an onlooker in an old Dr. Pepper commercial than like an engineer, and the page I was linked to would have been only marginally creepier with background audio of voices whispering “one… of… us…”.

But I got a recommendation that I might like it from my friend Dave, whose judgement on computer technology is often quite good. So I took a look. I’m glad I did.

Ruby is an object-oriented scripting language. It feels more designed than accreted; the philosophy of the language seems both well-considered and consistent. It tends to gently encourage reasonable coding practices, without being dogmatic about questions of style. There’s a fair amount of convenience and syntactic sugar, but that’s not always a bad thing; when it’s not done at the expense of clarity and sanity, syntactic sugar shows respect for the programmer.

If you enjoy programming, you will probably enjoy Ruby. If you program for need, but have never seen why people enjoy it, Ruby might be a good starting place for finding out that it can be fun to tell a computer what to do.

Peter Seebach



  1. You have become one of us now. Do not be afraid. The bliss you are experiencing is normal as you ascend to a higher plane of coding.

    — Peter Leppik · 2007-04-27 15:09 · #