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Interview with the Creator of Ruby 183

Lisa writes: "Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto talks about Ruby's history, the influence of Perl and Python on Ruby, and his new book, Ruby in a Nutshell. In the article he explains: "When I started the language project, I was joking with a friend that the project must be code-named after a gemstone's name (àla Perl). So my friend came up with "ruby". It's a short name for a beautiful and highly valued stone. So I picked up that name, and it eventually became the official name of the language. Later, I found out that pearl is the birthstone for June, and ruby is the birthstone for July. I believe Ruby is an appropriate name for the next language after Perl.""
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Interview with the Creator of Ruby

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  • that's treason - "off with his head!" ;)
  • by krs-one ( 470715 ) <vic@openglf[ ]ms.com ['oru' in gap]> on Friday November 30, 2001 @10:19PM (#2639759) Homepage Journal
    One might want to check out this [oreillynet.com] link as well.

    -Vic
  • mmmm (Score:2, Troll)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you haven't looked at Ruby yet it's @ www.ruby-lang.org it's a beautifully done object oriented scripting language which IMHO is exactly what the computer industry needs. Other scripting languages have really hit a wall in development because of the objectless syntax, but ruby, is a piece of work.
    • Object orientation is the semantics. Semantics
      is tied to syntax, but not to any particular syntax; there is no ``object oriented syntax''. Syntax allows you to group some expressions together to express some semantic relationship.

      Languages hit the wall when they have a hard-wired syntax, with hard-wired semantics.

      Ruby is no exception. It's a whole lot of syntactic sugar for a bunch of non-programmable semantics. It was obsolete before it was conceived. Moreover, the author has a very limited view of what object oriented programming is, and suffers from a fundamental confusion that OO is somehow syntactically determined. This if from one of his slides:

      //OOP
      fi = File::new("sample.dat", "r")
      fi.binmode = true
      line = fi.readline()
      fi.close

      // Non-OOP
      fi = fopen("sample.dat", "r")
      fbinmode(fi, true)
      line = freadline(fi)
      fclose(fi)

      So, in other words, something is object oriented if it uses the notation object.method(arg), but not object oriented if it uses the notation method(object, arg). Is this guy for real?

      It takes a certain level of experience to see through the facade of curly braces, vertical bars, squiggles, splats, hashes, cokebottles and whatnot. Such devices, despite looking impressively cryptic and terse, do not imply any special power; they are designed to dazzle and seduce the undergraduate mind.

      The real power arises when the same expression, whether it uses lots of syntactic sugar or not, can mean absolutely anything that the programmer wants, not only what the language designer wants it to mean.
      • Your complaint about Ruby seem to apply to many other languages. I am curious to know what languages, in your opinion, do not have the weaknesses you describe. I would also be very interested to know why you believe these lanuages to be better.

        I'm not trying to belittle your complaint, I'm genuinly interested in having a look at better programming languages.
      • The real power arises when the same expression, whether it uses lots of syntactic sugar or not, can mean absolutely anything that the programmer wants, not only what the language designer wants it to mean.

        Gee, does the compilier or interpreter have any say in this, or would that also be too restricting?

        Can you point to any language that meets your criteria?

    • Re:mmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by smallpaul ( 65919 ) <paul@noSpAm.prescod.net> on Saturday December 01, 2001 @03:52AM (#2640496)

      Other scripting languages have really hit a wall in development because of the objectless syntax, but ruby, is a piece of work.

      Yeah, I can see your point. The other languages have a totally [perldoc.com] objectless [python.org] syntax [phpbuilder.com]!

      Too bad they have all hit [python.org] a [perl.org] wall [zend.com].

  • To the development site or somewhere else I can get more info and maybe even an interperter to finally get off the fence and try playing with this language?

    I checked the linked articles but couldn't find anything.
  • ...are they? Honestly, I swear over the last 6-8 months there have been at -least- 1 article/month on *Ruby*. So what's the big deal? Another scripting language; how many of those do we got now? C'mon!
    • over the last 6-8 months there have been at -least- 1 article/month on *Ruby*

      Well, if you look at this [slashdot.org] you'd see that if they *were* trying to pedal a certain language, it would probaly be perl, since perl stories average >1 a month.
      • Yes, perl is a great language for many thing... even slashdot uses it. But in all seriousness, how many languages is enough? What I've noticed is that there are too many languages, and people only use a handful because of a few things: One, the popularity; Two, the ability a language has to market yourself in the job market (C/C++, Java, Perl, Python, SQL, and in some cases, assembler for embedded work are the most popular.); Three, for the above mentioned people are willing to put up with it caevets. These programming languages fill the vast void of what everyone ever wanted or needed -- they are general enough to be swiss army knives, they are targeted enough to have a desire to learn them, and they are expandable enough to allow for everyone to add libraries to it. The more popular the language, the more libs there are -- btw, smalltalk's a good language; see anyone program in that? Not many. Same goes for lisp, COBOL, Ada (which is total crap), etc. I'm afraid Ruby will be doomed on that path due to the fact that there really is no need to have it.
  • by RavenDuck ( 22763 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @10:29PM (#2639788)
    Lots of people probably wont read the linked interview, so I think it's worth quoting this beautiful little paragraph as to why the world might need Yet Another Scripting Language.
    Why should you switch to Ruby? If you are happy with Perl or Python, you don't have to. But if you do feel there must be a better language, Ruby may be your language of choice. Learning a new language is harmless. It gives you new ideas and insights. You don't have to switch, just learn and try it. You may find yourself comfortable enough with Ruby to decide to switch to it.
    • I must agree that learning new languages is a good thing, even if you never end up using it. Take Python; Having avoided Perl because of the gaga looking syntax I picked up Python as a good alternative. I never really would of realised just how usefull for representation Tuple/list/dictionary type combinations really can be. You don't actually *need* variants of the windoze variety with this. (Ergo Soap works charmingly).

      I rarely end up using python professionaly other than for supernifty one off hacks (in heroic time!) but it's sure filled my head with nifty new ways of going about things in my 'mainstream' programming life.

      I'm sure Ruby has it's little charms too. Must investigate.
    • One thing I've found, is that even if I don't stick with a language I try, I program the others slightly different, and hopefully better after tried it and gotten my thinking shaken around a little... :)

      I think it is good for you.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @10:35PM (#2639815)
    I've been following Ruby for a couple of years now - in general its a polished design that synthesizes the best of many competing languages, but ultimately there is little motivation for Perl and Python programmers to invest time in becoming Ruby gurus.

    The language biosystem is overpopulated, and mindshare starvation can be fatal to a new tool.

    • The language biosystem is overpopulated, and mindshare starvation can be fatal to a new tool.

      I couldn't disagree more. Mindshare may be needed for products but too much mindshare can kill ideas faster than anything. Memes that "everybody knows" are essentially dead. The language biosphere only seems overpopulated if you're used to living in the BASIC* & C* wasteland we had a few years back.

      -- MarkusQ

  • by Linux_ho ( 205887 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @10:39PM (#2639831) Homepage
    I love Perl, wrote many a fine script in it, and a couple mostly unreadable messes. I started using Python, and am using it for most of my scripts now. I poked around Ruby's web page a while back and tried to find out what all the hoopla was about, but couldn't find anything really revolutionary. Bruce Eckel (of Thinking in C++/Java fame) doesn't seem to think much of Ruby [mindview.net].

    Sure, maybe there's some cool new syntactic sugar. Sure, it's sexy to be able to say you're developing in/developing libraries for/developing a brand new computer language. But unless there's some significant additional benefit to this new design, why re-invent the wheel with Yet Another Language?

    So, SOMEONE must be able to tell me what's so *great* about Ruby that we should start calling Python obsolete. Either that, or acknowledge that Ruby is just a fun, impractical project that truly is re-inventing the wheel.
    • Re:Nothing ?! (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've looked at python and ruby syntax and they are not that different actually.

      IMHO ruby is cleaner, well refactored, and consistent than python. You can almost guess how a class will work and it just work.

      And cleanner syntax matters! That is why people switch from perl to python and many avoid lisp.
      • And cleanner syntax matters! That is why people switch from perl to python and many avoid lisp.

        It's hard to get syntax that is "cleaner" than Lisp syntax: Lisp syntax is very easy to parse, very easy to write, and completely unambiguous.

        • Easy to parse? Are you insane? The primary reason for LISPs lack of success in the real world, IMHO, and the ultimate success of least common denominator languages like Java lies in their parseability to somebody with only general knowledge of the specifics of the applications (i.e. lead time on bringing new developers into a project). This is the one of the most significant strengths of Java over C++ (well, not the only one, and there are plenty of weaknesses, but this strength wins out with much "enterprise" or "business" server-side software). I also find Python generally quite pleasant to parse and read. LISP, on the other hand, is easily parseable only for those with strange brain defects that make them love spending their days counting parens with bleary eyes.
          • Easy to parse? Are you insane?

            Actually, I was talking about parsing, not readability. But well-written Lisp is very readable, just like well-written C or well-written Java.

            LISP, on the other hand, is easily parseable only for those with strange brain defects that make them love spending their days counting parens with bleary eyes.

            Lisp, like Python, relies on indentation for readability. People never count parentheses, they use editors that handle parentheses for them. Python programmers don't go blind counting spaces either, they use editors that handle indentation for them.

            The primary reason for LISPs lack of success in the real world, IMHO,

            Lisp is probably more widely used today than Python or Ruby. It may be unfamiliar, but it is really easy to learn. CommonLisp failed mostly for reasons unrelated to syntax.

            the ultimate success of least common denominator languages like Java lies in their parseability to somebody with only general knowledge of the specifics of the applications

            Come on: "&&", "?:", and lots of other operators? Lots of braces? Oddball precedence rules? Variable declaration syntax with type modifiers on the variables? Prefix conversion operators with postfix method selectors? Java syntax is pretty tricky and unintuitive; people only consider it simple if they know C.

            I also object to your characterization of Java as a "lowest common denominator" language. Java is a very powerful language, hidden under a deceptively familiar syntax.


            • >Lisp is probably more widely used today than Python or ...

              I highly doubt this. A perusal of the traffic of the python verson lisp newsgroups tells tales as does the paucity of available libraries for lisp when compared to those of python. I would hazard a guess that Lisp is used quite a bit less than Python.

              C//
            • Sorry, I misinterpreted "parse" to mean "grok" or "parse via wetware". Nevertheless, Python maintains readability by forcing indentation. LISP relies on the kindheartedness of the editor and user. My entire point is that while this is great and fine for a project you are working on yourself, coding standards on large projects with tight, tight deadlines are REALLY difficult to enforce. Of course, this is mostly because my experience involves working with illiterate, non-native english speakers who are also just really bad programmers. But I think that Python and Java both share a certain degree of idiot-proofing that makes them valuable in larger projects. I think LISP fails this test, mostly because LISP seems to force a certain slightly unnatural way of thinking on you. Please don't talk down to me like I don't know LISP - I learned CLISP in college my freshman year and have written substantially large applications in it (it would take me several months to get back up to speed with it since that was 6 or 7 years ago now), but I am not talking through my arse entirely here.


              Anyway, there's a great page out there by a guy who wrote a series of articles on the topic of "Worse is Better" and why LISP failed to maintain critical mindshare in the professional world and lost so much ground to C and C++, though functional languages seem to retain a serious support base in academe.


              I sincerely doubt that LISP is that widely used - certainly it has a miniscule hobbyist following left, compared to Python. Even Ruby, while new-ish in the US probably has more users in Japan alone. LISP still has a lot of users in the business world, in software development projects at companies working on the rare project that is well suited to LISPs strengths (whatever exactly they are - beats me).


              Java syntax is least common denominator because it basically steals C++ and removes everything that fucked up the morons working on larger projects (pointers, multiple inheritence, certain weird keywords, operator overloading). They left some stuff in it that may be weird to a LISP person, but to most people, thinking in one of the ALGOL-derived languages is still much more natural (procedural style) than thinking in functional style. Everyone seems to forget the real goal of a programming language is to translate between my wetware and bits and bytes and provide me with some insulation while still providing enough power and performance to build useable applications that can perform significant tasks.

    • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @11:13PM (#2639903)

      So, SOMEONE must be able to tell me what's so *great* about Ruby that we should start calling Python obsolete.


      Ruby's iterators. IMHO, this simple construct provides 80% of the what's truly useful in a functional language without the ivory tower weirdness.


      Having said that, Python 2.2 is soon adding it's own iterators and generators. They looks slightly less elegant, but I havent' tried them yet, so I can't be totally sure; they might be better.

    • It's hard to reply to this -- how could this (obvious) flame get moderated so high? I don't understand why you think that for Ruby to be useful it has to obsolete Python?

      I don't know Python, but I suspect the features of both Ruby and Python are similar. The syntax for Ruby is very nice.

      What happened to you (switching from Perl to Python) is basically what happened to me, except it was Perl -> Ruby.

      Can't you accept that it's possible for someone to actually like one language more than the other? (you obviously do, and are so closed minded to not give Ruby more than a quick look over)

      I recommend reading some of the Pickaxe Book [rubygarden.org], which is available online.
      • The post you are refering to is not a flame. The poster was asking a valid question. Just because you do not agree with the questions does not make it a flame.

        It seams a little closed minded to call a post you don't agree with a flame...
        • I disagree, comments like:


          So, SOMEONE must be able to tell me what's so *great* about Ruby that we should start calling Python obsolete. Either that, or acknowledge that Ruby is just a fun, impractical project that truly is re-inventing the wheel.


          Are just intended to be inflammatory, don't you think? I guess not.

          What I'm saying is that just because a language doesn't severly improve on the features of another is not a good reason to dismiss it.

          I have no problem with Python -- the problem I have is with people who are too closed minded enough to try new things. I know many people who use C all the time, and always spout the standard, "but you can do anything in C -- it's the best language, even for OO programming!" They say this because that's all they use, and assume nothing could possibly be better, becuase that's all they're familiar with.

          I've said enough already :)
      • ...which is how most moderators seem to use it. which is sad. tyranny of the majority is boring in spirited discussions...
      • There was no "flaming" in the message you were responding to. It is people like you that think any message that criticises something dear to their heart is a "flame" or a "troll" that make Slashdot such an unpleasant place sometimes.

        If you disagree with an opinion in a reasonably politely worded message, respond with a good technical argument. Don't throw out random accusations or moderate down messages you merely disagree with.

        Also, don't point people at a few hundred pages of documentation--it's counterproductive. If proponents of a tool are incapable of producing a concise statement of why their tool is better than other tools, people are entitled to assume that it isn't worth looking into it further. The burden of proof is on the shoulders of people who want mindshare, not on the shoulders of people who want to use existing tools.

        (As for Ruby, it seems like a reasonable language with a nicer C interface than Python. Enough to switch? I don't know.)

      • I'm not saying it couldn't be useful. Reinventing the wheel still gives you a very nice wheel that rolls around just fine. I'm just saying that creating it was a frivolous waste of time. It wasn't necessary. It doesn't fill a need. The effort would have been better spent improving python.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2001 @11:29PM (#2639947)
      > Sure, maybe there's some cool new syntactic sugar.

      [sigh.] All non-1stGLs are, boiled down, syntactic and semantic sugar. *That's the whole point.* You try and map the necessary, needs-of-the-machine language up to something closer to How People Think (tm).

      > Sure, it's sexy to be able to say you're
      > developing in/developing libraries for/developing
      > a brand new computer language.

      Yeah, I like to read the same book over and over, too. It's not like I can learn any new ideas from anything other than _Atlas_Shrugged_.

      > But unless there's some significant additional
      > benefit to this new design, why re-invent the
      > wheel with Yet Another Language?

      If nothing more, than to grind one's teeth on the *art* of language design. Am I reading you wrong, or are you actually convinced that Python and Perl are the highest glory of formal systems?

      > So, SOMEONE must be able to tell me what's so
      > *great* about Ruby that we should start calling
      > Python obsolete. Either that, or acknowledge that
      > Ruby is just a fun, impractical project that truly
      > is re-inventing the wheel.

      You should become a project manager, as you have the proper terror for new ideas. I'll be here at work over the weekend, grinding out shit in Visual C++ that could have been done in no fucking time with Common Lisp. But hey, those LISPs are just fun and impractical.

      "And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made"
      --_The_Sounds_of_Silence_
      • Hear hear! (LOL)
      • If nothing more, than to grind one's teeth on the *art* of language design. Am I reading you wrong, or are you actually convinced that Python and Perl are the highest glory of formal systems?

        ...No that's SmallTalk ;). One day I might even figure out how to do something usefull with it ;)

        Of course there are some langs that do exist pretty much for the art of it. Think Prolog (Oh ok.. PostScript uses). Doesn't mean we are not richer for them.

        (Hope I didn't start a holy war here!).*grin*
      • If nothing more, than to grind one's teeth on the *art* of language design. Am I reading you wrong, or are you actually convinced that Python and Perl are the highest glory of formal systems?
        Yes, you're reading me wrong - I'm not saying any of them are the holy grail, and you know it. If Ruby had made a single step past Python in the direction of "formal system glory", if Ruby actually offered anything I thought was new and interesting to the art of language design, I would be behind it 100%. Instead, I get the impression of random bits of Python and Perl cobbled together with bubble-gum and duct tape. If I choose to grind my own teeth on the art of language design at some point, I won't be choosing Ruby to grind them on.
        You should become a project manager, as you have the proper terror for new ideas. I'll be here at work over the weekend, grinding out shit in Visual C++ that could have been done in no fucking time with Common Lisp. But hey, those LISPs are just fun and impractical.
        Yow, my hair is smoking. Have you actually used this language you're defending so vigorously? Just because I don't like Ruby doesn't mean I don't like LISP, though you seem to have somehow made that connection. Perhaps you're projecting a little frustration at having to work over the weekend?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sure, Perl and Python have their strong points. Ruby seems to have done a good job of combining the strong points of both. A lot of folks want a language that is easier to develop object oriented code in than Perl (which, as someone who has done OO Perl, I have to say it's downright ugly), and many people don't like Python's style (forced indentation - need I say more?).

      It's a matter of which language fits you, the programmer, best instead of the other way around. A lot of folks find that programming in Ruby is just more natural to them than programming in either Perl or Python.

      The message here is: give it a try. If it works for you and you decide that you really like it, then you've gained. If you try it out for a couple of days and decide that you don't like it, then you don't have to continue. Try it, you might like it.
    • Eckel is happy with Python, and hence isn't that interested in using the languages that are pythons "competitors" (eg perl which he doesn't think much of either, and, ruby). Python doesn't have to be obsolete for Ruby to be useful. Competition is not a bad thing -- or are you one of those people that believe one of KDE and GNOME should roll over and die so Linux can have one "standard" desktop ?
    • I like the Python programming language, but I don't particularly like its C implementation and interface. Reference counting in Python is a particular problem, frequently leading to obscure bugs in complex Python extension libraries. Don't even get me started on the Perl C implementation and interface.

      Ruby looks a lot better in this regard, and that alone might be a reason to use it, even if otherwise it is roughly equivalent to Python.

      Still, overall, it is disappointing to me that there is no Perl/Python/Ruby-like scripting language implemented in C++: using C++, the native code interface could be much simpler to use. Yes, there are various C++ wrappers for Python and probably the other languages, but they generally add a complex C++ layer around an already complex C interface.


      • Still, overall, it is disappointing to me that there is no Perl/Python/Ruby-like scripting language implemented in C++: using C++, the native code interface could be much simpler to use. Yes, there are various C++ wrappers for Python and probably the other languages, but they generally add a complex C++ layer around an already complex C interface.

        I think, it's better than to lose the ability of binding to pure C (or assembly, or whatever) code.
        • I think, it's better than to lose the ability of binding to pure C (or assembly, or whatever) code.

          Well, that may be true if you have grand schemes for the scripting language. But I'd happily give up C compatibility and the C ABI standard for easier, more reliable bindings to native code. Existence of something with a really nice C++ interface and implementation wouldn't obsolete existing scripting languages.


      • Still, overall, it is disappointing to me that there is no Perl/Python/Ruby-like scripting language implemented in C++: using C++, the native code interface could be much simpler to use.


        Given that there is no C++ ABI standard (yet), I suspect this would be "simpler" only if you used the same compiler for the scripting language and the C++ code to be wrapped. Pretty limiting.
    • I was really dissappointed reading Bruce Eckell's article. I'm a big fan of his books, but in this case I really think he's talking out of his ass about something he really hasn't bothered to look into very carefully.

      Python uses functions that can also masquerade as methods. Ruby uses methods that can also masquerade as functions. This has enormous ramifications for the way OO feels in Ruby. For one thing, there's none of this nonsense about "well, some things are called object.foo() and others are foo(object). Read some of Guido's powerpoint presentations on Python. He really thinks the entire OO paradigm is a form of syntactic sugar for doing stateful programming. No serious fan of OO agrees. For my part, I thought Python was just the greatest thing since sliced bread until I tried to create serious object-oriented software with it.

      Besides that, there's blocks, iterators, closures, true encapsulation, and access control.

      No one who's serious about programming would say, Hey, why do we need Java. It's the same thing as C++! Least of all Eckell. I can't imagine why this would be considered a legitimate thing to say about Ruby and Python either.
    • Bruce Eckel (of Thinking in C++/Java fame) doesn't seem to think much of Ruby.


      Bruce Eckel shows a lot of religious intolerance in that answer. Very strange for a normally pretty with it guy.


      Bruce: So far I keep coming to the conlusion that Ruby is just a bad ripoff of Python, just like C# is a bad ripoff of C++.


      Um, I wonder what books Bruce has been reading lately read... If anythong, Ruby is a ripoff of Perl, not Python. Just like C# is more a ripoff of Java than C++.

  • Ruby and Parrot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by matthewg ( 6374 )
    Are there any plans to have Ruby use Parrot, the future shared backend for Perl and Python?
    • There's been a lot of talk about it in
      comp.lang.ruby

      It would be cool if Ruby could play with Parrot too...
    • Ack. This was an April fool's joke, remember? Perl6 development is partly based around a VM called "parrot" [parrotcode.org] because it should be reusable for other languages, e.g. Python. I don't see any indication on the python home page that they're planning on using it, though. It's a neat idea, but it's a long way from being a "shared backend" for python as well as perl, and the Parrot home page makes it quite clear that its principle use is for Perl6.
  • From the article:

    As long as some people feel happy using Ruby, that's enough of a reason for another language for me.

    A-men.

    It works for a lot of other things, too. Pick
    a language, or political party, or religion, or
    operating system, or city of residence, or
    economic system, or mathematical notation, etc...

    Seriously, folks, adopt this attitude, and the
    world will sleep MUCH easier at night.
  • It ain't bad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by linuxjack55 ( 536587 ) <gdtrfb55@gmail.com> on Friday November 30, 2001 @10:55PM (#2639866)
    Compared to Perl and Python, the syntax is cleaner and easier to understand. Scripts can be roughed out in functional terms, and then moved over to objects in no time at all. And, since every component of the core language is an object, OOP is as simple as it gets. The thing that's killing Ruby for me is the lack of documentation. The material that's available requires a lot of (read too much) effort to assimilate. It desperately needs a Camel book...
    • Re:It ain't bad... (Score:4, Informative)

      by JamesOfTheDesert ( 188356 ) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @12:28AM (#2640086) Journal
      It desperately needs a Camel book...


      Perhaps one of these (some out know, some to be published Real Soon Now) would help.


      Programming Ruby: A Pragmatic Programmer's Guide, by David Thomas, Andrew Hunt
      Paperback - 608 pages 1st edition (December 15, 2000)
      Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0201710897

      Ruby Developer's Guide, by Michael Neumann
      Paperback - 520 pages 1st edition (November 2001)
      Publishers Group West; ISBN: 1928994644

      Ruby In A Nutshell, by Yukihiro Matsumoto
      Paperback - 230 pages 1st edition (November 2001)
      O'Reilly & Associates; ISBN: 0596002149

      The Ruby Programming Language (With CD-ROM), by Yukio Matsumoto
      Paperback - 496 pages Bk&Cd-Rom edition (July 5, 2002)
      Addison Wesley Professional; ISBN: 020171096X

      The Ruby Way, by Hal Fulton Guy Hurst
      Paperback, 400pp. ISBN: 0672320835
      Publisher: Sams, Pub. Date: November 2001

      Sams Teach Yourself Ruby in 21 Days, by Mark Slagell
      Paperback, 1st ed., 600pp. ISBN: 0672322528
      Publisher: Sams Pub. Date: December 2001

      Programmieren mit Ruby, by Armin Röhrl, Stefan Schmiedl, Clemens Wyss, etc.
      dpunkt.de; ISBN 3898641511 (February, 2002)
    • Agreed. "Programming Ruby" is fine, but I wish it had the odd humor and compelling programming examples (not OO jukeboxes) that are in the Camel. I also wish it had the Camel's very strong chapter on regular expressions. Hopefully, Matz's book will point out the Ruby pitfalls that are not mentioned in "Programming Ruby."

      As this turned to be the "let's bash Ruby" topic on Slashdot, I'll mention that I like Ruby a lot. I just wish that Perl wasn't so automatic to me at this point, else migration would be lots more fun.
  • for a new programming language name. Why not? Then after that let's make Sapphire and perhaps Obsidian....blah blah.
  • by Nindalf ( 526257 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @11:00PM (#2639878)
    I love Ruby, especially for the arbitrary-sized integers by default (this might seem like a minor feature, but I deal with exact numbers over a few billion so often that I hate to fumble with extensions and libraries for it), but one thing that confuses me is the block structure. Why "end"?

    Why are static conditional and loop blocks, and function and class definitions, so different from the brace type of general blocks, and so different-looking from Perl? And why is the option of "do || ... end" or "{||...}" not more general?

    For example (and please correct me if my assumption is wrong), why can you choose between "for do || ... end" and "for {|| ... }", but not between "def func(n) ... end" and "def func {|n| ... }" ?
  • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @11:10PM (#2639895)
    I've had a habit of reading want ads (mostly job postings lately, but the "Farm Equipment" and "Misc Real Estate 4 Sale" sections are always good) since I was a kid. I know, that's weird. But back then it was always fascinating to me that you could find out just want people want if you read enoguh ads. I thought that if I could read all the want ads then I'd know exactly what my city needed. I imagined that you could make graphs and see what was in demand and such -- kinda like SimCity's zoning bar graphs (which was my immediate thought when SimCity came out).

    I'm not officially OT. See, I still read wants ads. And I look at what's in demand for clues to what I should be learning, trends, etc. Databases are a good example from a couple years ago. I noticed that lots of the 1996 job ads had web->DB stuff in them, and so starting brushing up on databases in my off hours. It turned out to be useful later on. I know that one could take this line of reasoning to mean that everyone should start learning VB and IIS stuff, but it isn't an absolute. You kinda have to read all the ads and then stand back and squint to see the trendfs in your area. If you're a Unix geek, you'll see what ost people want, which might lead to learning something new.

    My (long winded) point is: Ruby won't be on my radar until people can reasonably be expected to pay me for using it. I know I just got modded down in the minds of a lot of poeple by saying that, but it's how I think. When I see Ruby listed in want ads, then I start noticing it (especially if its mention grows over time). I figure that I need to kill two birds with one stone: know enough to get my job done by knowing a diverse enough range of stuff so that I can still get paid. If I spent all my time learning every other thing that came out, I'd never get any work done. And I'd only know a little bit about everything. I need to know a certain subset of things really well, and just the right amount about a lot of other stuff in order to stay competitive. It's setting that threshold of other stuff where the want ads come in handy. If everyone wants wireless all of the sudden, something's up. So I devote a little time to learning it.

    I guess as I get older, I'm starting to value my unplugged time. I can't burn 36 straight hours engrossed in new (and mostly arcane) stuff like I did 15, 20, or even 10 years ago. I have to choose my projects and apply my time wisely. So whern I start seeing Ruby in the wants ads, I'll take a look. I'll be behind the curve, but that's fine.

    -B

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's a valid point you make, I suppose.

      But what if you were to learn it because it's fun?

      "Fun?" Yeah, fun.

      Another point: By the time something hits the help wanted ads in large numbers it's already gotten a some percentage way through it's active life. Look at Java - a lot of people started learning it because it looked like an important technology to them at the time, there weren't many Java jobs at first. Now everybody and his brother has learned Java, so you're competing with everybody and their brother.

      BTW: I did see a Ruby ad at:
      http://www.postget.com/get/ad.php?id=591

      So maybe it's just starting and has a lot of life ahead of it - one can only hope.
    • I know that one could take this line of reasoning to mean that everyone should start learning VB and IIS stuff, but it isn't an absolute.

      If you goal, which I think is just fine, is to get hired, why not learn those things? There is a strong demand for RAD development, and those are choice tools at this time. I saw the same trend a few years back and did learn both and am working pretty good with it. Its payed off in terms of time-to-benefit ratio. MS has a strong presence in the development world, and unless you have a strong moral objection to learning it, it wouldn't kill you :]

      Ruby won't be on my radar until people can reasonably be expected to pay me for using it.

      Thats a bit myopic. Very few people will ever advertise for Ruby. But lets say you see and advertisment for, say, System Administration. The owner/manager might not even know what that means, just that they need one. Thats a case where if you knew Ruby you could use it, but its not a requirement per se (you need some scripting language, but not necessarily Ruby).

      guess as I get older, I'm starting to value my unplugged time. I can't burn 36 straight hours engrossed in new (and mostly arcane) stuff like I did 15, 20, or even 10 years ago. I have to choose my projects and apply my time wisely. So whern I start seeing Ruby in the wants ads, I'll take a look. I'll be behind the curve, but that's fine.

      You know, I still get just offended by that type of thing. Somehow young people with alot of energy are always seen in this light - like we are wasting are time or being frivalous because we don't value our time. I find it to be a bit out of touch. I am a busy person, I am also young(ish). I devote time to learning new things, but I don't like wasting my time anymore than anyone else. I don't go jumping some new bandwagon just 'cause its there, you know? Have an open mind towards young(ish) people, we really aren't much different from you. We are busy - very busy in many cases - busy with work and school and projects and all kinds of good things. I honestly am not interested in wasting my time anymore than the next guy!
      • Somehow young people with alot of energy are always seen in this light - like we are wasting are time or being frivalous because we don't value our time.

        I don't think he was daying that young people don't value thir time; I think he was saying that, since he no longer has the energy of youth, he has less time to do all the things he might want to do, so he needs to be careful about how he spends his time in order to get to do all the stuff he wants.

        Speaking as someone who, three years ago, couldn't even begin to dream how much a toddler could eat up your personal time, I understand (in some sense) exactly what he's saying :-)

        • I don't think he was daying that young people don't value thir time; I think he was saying that, since he no longer has the energy of youth, he has less time to do all the things he might want to do, so he needs to be careful about how he spends his time in order to get to do all the stuff he wants.

          You said it perfectly. I used to spend all night -- for weeks on end -- on a VIC-20 doing mostly useless stuff in BASIC. I didn't have a job, family (of my own), eating, anything really to get in the way of my interest. Back then I could attack things with a passion that had no regard for time or other personal responsibilities.

          When I was in college, I could spend all night fooling with GIS stuff or pascal or whatever, just because I had to get that one project done. And more often than not, I'd "waste" plenty of time doing things not strictly necessary. I had more responsibility then than I did when I was in high school, but it was subconsciously counted as school, so I could metally get away with it.

          Now I'm at the point where I come home and I just want to spend time with my family, in the garage working with wood or something, making a good dinner, etc. If I'm on the computer at night, it's with a very carefully chosen project. I don't have as much time to burn now as I did then. I have to choose my "battles". There's still plenty of room for fun, and that's what I do on my off hours. The trick is to make the fun stuff also count as work stuff.

          Like another poster said, you have to have a well-rounded toolkit to get along. And I do. I've got a very well rounded set of skills, and I am always looking for more to learn. But consider the time budget imposed by age and responsibility with the ROI I'd get from learning another language roughly equivalent to a couple I already know. I can get by with perl and python and PHP in order to do what I do -- even for the fun stuff. It's when I see more and more job ads in the "computer" section ask for Ruby that I'll start to make that ROI worth it. In the meantime, there's plenty more stuff I have to know better than I do.

          I wasn't saying that youth can or do waste their time. They just have more of it. Which they should enjoy to the fullest doing whatever it is that piques their curiosity, even if it doesn't "offically" count as something important. Us old guys don't get that luxury anymore... :-)

          -B

    • Here is a Ruby job [postget.com]. The description starts:

      "Client is a small advertising agency in Manhattan.

      "Job consists of production work on heavily dHTML website. In order to minimize production pain, html pages are generated using Ruby (a wonderful language)."

      Yay, Ruby!

    • Soak. (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Ruby won't be on my radar until people can reasonably be expected to pay me for using it. [...] When I see Ruby listed in want ads, then I start noticing it (especially if its mention grows over time).
      Let's abstract your idea to the ever popular example, Linux.

      Years ago you rarely saw jobs where Linux was asked for. If one were to take your stance no language would advance. Fact is that toys software is where the next popular thing comes from.

      My advice? Bookmark a Ruby news site and read every couple of days. Just soak in it. You won't waste too much valuable time and it'll expand your mind. Maybe you'll be so interested you'll feel the urge to learn it in your spare time.

      Fact is that as a programmer you can pick up Ruby in a month, and that means you'll adapt quickly enough to cope with the influx of Ruby, or any programming language.

      There are many facts but they all miss the point. Will learning Ruby be worth my time commercially? Only a fool would answer that with any solidity. Spread your mind around information and just soak it in. Not just Ruby but Linux and Electronics and Interface. Choose wisely and spend a few minutes each day expanding your mind. Follow your heart and one day you'll get that pony, Jeff. You'll climb those stairs and drive that Porsche. And remember, you don't need the drugs when you're high on crack.

    • Language adaption (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pseudonym ( 62607 )

      Though you won't find it in your job ads, having a lot of languages (and a lot of different kinds of languages at that) on your resume is a definite bonus. Especially if there's a variety of languages (procedural, OO, functional, logic etc), it shows that you can easily adapt to a new language should that become an issue.

  • I'm only now on chapter two of learning python. gonna have to wait till i can do more than just

    print "Hello, World"

    before i try to learn something else.
    • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @11:50PM (#2640005)
      I'm only now on chapter two of learning python. gonna have to wait till i can do more than just

      print "Hello, World"

      before i try to learn something else.


      You're in luck. That code is valid for both Python and Ruby. If you stay on this track, you'll master both languages in no time.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I'm writing a new scripting language and it's defined such that if you give it a program with no statements (i.e. an empty file) it will print "Hello, World\n" to stdout. Can anyone else write a hello world program in fewer than zero bytes?
    • If you can do any programming at all, I implore you just to do the little tutorial in the help files. It's a freaking winner! *EVERYONE* Who I know who learned it this way pretty much had mastery over Python in under the week. It is *beautifull* like that.

      Must check out Ruby tho..
      • If you can do any programming at all, I implore you just to do the little tutorial in the help files.

        ... or if you've got "learning python", just skip the first few chapters of text and jump right into the exercises. I got through the first three chapters of exercises without reading the book.

        BTW, the python documentation is a godsend. Haven't seen the tutorial, but the reference, C API and embedded guide are very nice.

  • I'm going to call it ASS, which will stand for Active Scripting Somethingrather. People will use it because theirs won't stink, but everyone else's will. Of course, they will know that everyone else's stinks because of the power of Open Source - everyone will want to packet-sniff everyone else's ASS to see how theirs is configured, which one is pretty, and which one stinks.

    I long for the day when I will have an o'reilly interview where I get to sit and talk about ASS.
  • There is a Mind-to-Ruby [sourceforge.net] liaison page for coodinating the implementation of an Open Source AI Theory of Mind [scn.org] in Ruby.

    A previous instance of porting the AI to Visual Basic was Mind.VB of 3.Apr.2000. [virtualentity.com]

    A more recent port from JavaScript into Java is at Mind.JAVA of June 2001. [angelfire.com]

    The Ruby programming language leads to a technology transfer of American AI to advanced Japanese robots: the Technological Singularity. [caltech.edu]

    • Oh god, you again? Jesus, some people just don't know when to put the bong down. I'm sick of hearing about your artificial minds. If your artificial mind can write my history paper by monday at 9:30, then I'll start caring.

      Moderators, you know what to do. Check this weirdo's previous posts out.
  • Matz: [From perl I borrwed] A lot. Ruby's class library is an object-oriented reorganization of Perl functionality--plus some Smalltalk and Lisp stuff. I used too much I guess. I shouldn't have inherited $_, $&, and the other, ugly style variables.
    Ruby is young enough that he could redesign his syntax, with an enthusiastic enough community that he could pull it off.

    I think he should stick with one of the {} or do...end styles; eliminate the @ from @member (maybe .member?); generally don't be afraid to make it a MORE beautiful language.

  • A few months ago, I was a chemist sitting in my lab pondering crystalization of aluminum oxide, with no more programming experience other than the required pascal & fortran from school. A few websearches later, and thanks to ruby, I finally hit that moment of enlightenment of understanding OO. Any language that helps me grow is good. I'm still in a lab, but this one doesn't have fume hoods ;).
  • by Lepruhkawn ( 199083 ) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @12:15AM (#2640056) Homepage
    If someone INSISTS on using a scripting language to build thousands of line of code that I then have to try and maintain and enhance as a product, I'd welcome any alternative scripting language that doesn't encourage obfuscated code as much as Perl does.

    I don't know if Ruby fits that bill, but it would be a reason to switch if it does.

    Of course, I know that code in any language can be well documented and written so that's easy to understand. It just seems like code written in Perl is much more likely to be difficult to read than in other languages more appropriate for applications.

    I'm part of a group that has had Perl code (using the OO facilities) handed off to it to maintain and fix. It contains many Packages and probaby several thousand lines of code. Not sure. I've successfully kept my name off the responsibility list for that code. It's been pure hell for the engineers that have been asked to fix it--and all it's supposed to be is a simple parser and data access interface.

    I use Perl myself for my own scripting but it can be cruel and unusual punishment to be given someone else's Perl to maintain.

    It's enough to make you take your clothes off and run around the office screaming "I CAN'T CODE NAKED!!! AHAHAHAHAAHAH!!!" until they put you on a different project.
    • I find Python to fit this bill quite well, though I'm sure Ruby has the same general style to it and can be just as readable. In particular I love the fixed indenting for code organization. The variants and often times complete failure of many projects to format source code and adhere to a coding standard in anything resembling a readable format always annoys me. Some people find this feature of Python even more annoying though - whatever floats your boat (I've often sat around wondering why we don't just force Java to have a common indenting syntax so everyone can use the editor of their choice and they will play nice out of the box).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've heard it described many times as: Ruby allows me to go from thought to code with the least friction of any language I've tried. I find it to be true as well.
    Sure some people will still prefer Perl and other Python, but a lot of people seem to be finding that Ruby just clicks for them.

    Maybe it's Matz's design philosophy "The principal of least surprise"
  • by Colonel Panic ( 15235 ) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @12:28AM (#2640089)
    It's a joy to program in...

    * There's iterators & blocks
    *A unified class/type system (meaning you can extend built-in types like String,Array,Hash,Kernel, etc)
    * fully OO - 42.times { |i| puts i }
    but it doesn't get in the way when you don't want OO, like it seems to with Java.
    * Design patterns - Observable,Delagator,Singleton,...
    * dRuby - Ruby's very easy to use distributed object system.

    For now it's great fun, hopefully someday it'll pay the bills too. ;-)

  • I looked at Ruby. It is certainly a heartfelt attempt. However, it seems to me that yet another poor communicator has written yet another language.

    Not only that, but the Ruby creator has created his own syntax. A new language has one big advantage for the creator: The creator finds the syntax very familiar. Everyone else must struggle.

    Links:

    The Ruby Home Page [ruby-lang.org]

    Ruby Language Reference Manual [ruby-lang.org]

    The Ruby Language FAQ [rubycentral.com]

    Programming in the Ruby language [ibm.com] by Joshua D. Drake, who is a good communicator.

    A Slashdot story and comments: Programming in the Ruby Language [slashdot.org]

    Positive comments about Ruby:

    Introducing the latest open source gem from Japan [ibm.com]

    Thirty-seven Reasons I Love Ruby [hypermetrics.com] by Hal Fulton.

    Negative comments about Ruby:

    As mentioned above, Bruce Eckel does not like Ruby [mindview.net]:

    "IMO, the Ruby syntax is ... often annoying... Ruby requires more typing for no particular reason, and has an uninspired choice of syntax ..."

    Eckel again: "... Python has 10 years behind it and a big, very smart, very active community, a nice number of good books and more on the way, a large set of libraries and a whole process and team in place for developing the language. Recent improvements to the language have outstripped whatever Ruby could offer, I think, and there's currently lots of very good work going on to further improve Python."

    For those who would like to quickly see for themselves, there is a section of the The Ruby Language FAQ called Show me some Ruby code [rubycentral.com]

    Quotes from Ruby's creator, a Japanese man with an incomplete command of English:

    What is the history of Ruby?

    "Well, Ruby was born on February 24 1993. I was talking with my colleague about the possibility of an object-oriented scripting language. I knew Perl (Perl4, not Perl5), but I didn't like it really, because it had smell of toy language (it still has). The object-oriented scripting language seemed very promising.

    "I knew Python then. But I didn't like it, because I didn't think it was a true object-oriented language -- OO features appeared to be add-on to the language. As a language manic and OO fan for 15 years, I really wanted a genuine object-oriented, easy-to-use scripting language. I looked for, but couldn't find one.

    "So, I decided to make it. It took several months to make the interpreter run. I put it the features I love to have in my language, such as iterators, exception handling, garbage collection.

    "Then, I reorganized the features of Perl into a class library, and implemented them. I posted Ruby 0.95 to the Japanese domestic newsgroups in Dec. 1995.

    "Since then, highly active mailing lists have been established and web pages formed."

    --
    Links to respected news sources show how U.S. government policy contributed to terrorism: What should be the Response to Violence? [hevanet.com]
  • by puppetluva ( 46903 ) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @01:29AM (#2640268)
    I did. In 1995 I had a conversation with Bjarne Stroustrup (inventor of C++) and asked him the obvious layup "Which language should programmers seek out and learn?"

    Instead of automatically plugging C++ he suggested something like this:
    1. Learn (or read) at least one every year or two so you don't get pigeonholed into the limitations of the language you use every day. Different languages promote different approaches - and different approaches/designs are the toolchest of this industry.
    2. At least try out one functional language (Lisp/Scheme), one OOP language(C++/Java), one procedural language. None is better than the other, they have different takes on the world and shine at solving different types of problems.
    3. Sticking with one language (at the total exclusion of others)limits your output and stunts your learning curve. Looking at more than one also reminds you what languages are for -- expressing more succinctly and clearly the instructions you want the computer to heed.

    This being said, I look at lots of languages and I've learned a lot from using Ruby (and I use it a lot now). The best ideas from Perl, Smalltalk, Python and C/C++ are all there. The downsides are not (Perl - clumsy OO, Smalltalk - high-priced/low acceptance, Python whitespace-significance/non-OO primitives, C/C++ - compilation, etc.). The user community is probably the most helpful and thoughtful I've been a part of as well.

    As far as Ruby's success at translating your thoughts to working programs? I read posts where people claimed they wrote less code, got more functionality, and fewer bugs right away. At the same time, they claimed they generally produced cleaner solutions at a faster rate than they ever had before with Perl or Python. Skeptical at first, I tried it out. . . I was shocked to find it was true for me within 2 days - I was sold.(note - I really am baffled by Bruce Eckel's comments on Ruby. . .I respect him as a writer, but I couldn't disagree with him more)

    Final note: If you are interested in becoming a better programmer, you should get the book "The Pragmatic Programmer" and read it(It was previously and glowingly reviewed by Slashdot - and no, I'm not the author). Its full of great advice on how to approach new languages and the general art of programming. The authors also wrote the book "Programming Ruby" (The "pickaxe" book) and they are big fans of Ruby as well.
    • White space: I'm tired of people referring to this as something Python "got wrong". You may not agree with it, but it's intentional and some people find it superior. I've never met anyone who disliked it after having actually tried it.
      • This is not something Python got wrong. It's superior for the simple fact that any programmer worth their salary will indent anyway and leveraging that makes more sense. Why force a programmer to type in a brain dead curly brace or 'Next' on a 'for' loop (C and VB respectively), when your indenting has already specified what you intend?

        Truly, you do not miss typing the explicit block delimiters after trying it. As far as anyone who argues that indenting code is bad goes... well get with it. Really.
    • You could try Erlang as the functional language, industrial strength stuff that's fun. www.erlang.org.
  • by metlin ( 258108 ) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @02:51AM (#2640410) Journal
    Rappsrv is an interesting framework for web applications written entirely in Ruby.

    You can check out the site [outerbody.com], the code [outerbody.com] and the thing at work [outerbody.com].

    Pretty neat! There are also some nice Ruby resources at the same site [outerbody.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ruby was invented in 1988 by Alan Cooper, he sold it to Bill Gates. Bill mixed Ruby with Qbasic and the result was Visual Basic.

    Sources:

    http://www.webword.com/interviews/cooper.html

    http://www.cooper.com/
  • I'll forgo my moderator privs to mention that the Midgard [midgard-project.org] development team have selected Ruby as the Scripting Core [midgard-project.org] of the next generation of Midgard, which is (in part) a Content Management and Web Database deployment system based on PHP.
  • When I first saw the title I immediately thought it was another thing by the same name: Ruby Annotation [w3.org]. (31 May 2001, Marcin Sawicki, Michel Suignard, Masayasu Ishikawa, Martin Dürst, Tex Texin)

    The sort of Ruby I had in mind was a type of markup used to add pronunciation alongside text.

Counting in binary is just like counting in decimal -- if you are all thumbs. -- Glaser and Way

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