Most experienced programmers will tell you that their favorite programming languages often share a simple concept - ease of use and application. While everyone has particular preferences about how a language works, what it can do, and how it can be applied, these factors all become irrelevant if a language is too complex or confusing for easy and practical use.
That’s why Ruby, an open-source programming language that is dynamic, interpreted, and object-oriented as well, has been such a popular choice among programmers for about the past twenty years. Ruby is centrally designed to follow the principle of least astonishment (often known as POLA), which focuses on reducing complexity for users and thus avoiding confusion or frustration when manipulating the language for various needs.
So what is Ruby used for? Where did it begin? Is learning Ruby is the right option for you?
The Origins of Ruby
Created in the early 1990s by Yukihiro Matsumoto in Japan, Ruby developed out of a need for an object-oriented scripted language that was more intuitive, useful, and easily controlled for programmers. This was especially true given the time period. The internet was rapidly spreading to homes around the world, more and more dynamic computers and technologies were emerging at a seemingly exponential rate, and programmers found themselves needing better tools to match growing needs for new web applications, processes, and platforms.
Like most other popular programming languages, Ruby then underwent years of adaptations and updates, continually shifting to meet new programming needs and adapt to emerging technologies like tablets and smartphones. Today, many programmers continue to cite Ruby as their favorite language, and the Ruby on Rails framework (and programmers familiar with it) are in high demand from businesses and startups in all aspects of internet business.
How is Ruby different from other coding languages?
Since Ruby is a scripting language built from the ground up for both front-end and back-end web development, it has a broad array of uses by design. One of the main benefits of the language is the easily understood syntax, which many programmers consider as close as you can possibly get to coding in simple English.
While other languages like Python focus on single, clear solutions to various coding problems, Ruby offers a variety of approaches to solving problems, giving the programmer more control and opportunity for customization. Likewise, while languages like C/C++ make many things visible to programmers (and thus, add complexity to their work), Ruby tends to hide things from programmers to promote simplicity and thus, more efficient work.
How is Ruby Used?
Here are just a few of the many programming needs and problems that you can use Ruby to solve:
- Object Creation: Since everything in Ruby is an object, every object can have its own unique properties and methods. This makes evaluating code easier and more customizable.
- Dynamic Typing: Very useful for higher-level stages of development, dynamic typing means that the type of variable you are using can be changed and resolved on the fly, allowing for much easier and useful adaptation in the later stages of a project. This compares to other languages where the type of variable is defined and resolved initially, meaning it can’t be changed later (known as static typing)
- Code Quality: Code quality is the metric by which every programmer measures a language. Ruby is particularly known for the intuitive elements of its code that make it easy for developers to maintain and understand. Not only does this let the code run more quickly, it also makes the burden on programmers significantly easier than some other languages when finding and solving bugs.
- Efficiency: Ruby’s simplicity and flexibility at various stages in a project make it much easier to manipulate (and thus, requires fewer work hours than other languages to implement), making it is a low-cost alternative to developing a dynamic web application. This is key for businesses and startups working with limited budgets on ideas that require complex features and frameworks for operations.
Why Should I Learn Ruby?
Whether you are a beginning programmer, or an experienced developer looking to broaden your skill set outside of your preferred language, there are a few reasons why learning to use Ruby is a great idea for you:
- Ruby is in high demand - With more and more companies and startups opting to use Ruby for the benefits we listed above, the demand for experienced and talented Ruby developers continues to grow in kind. Ruby programmers command some of the highest project and hourly rates in the developer world, offering a variety of career opportunities if you become proficient in its use.
- Ruby is designed to be easy to learn and use - While other languages take different approaches to their structure and application, Ruby’s focus on removing confusion and allowing for adaptation/correction of errors intuitively makes it one of the best languages for a new programmer to become familiar with.
- You can do a whole lot with it - With use cases for both front-end and back-end development, as well as a teeming global community providing mutual support and best practices to draw on, Ruby offers seemingly limitless potential in terms of the applications and processes you can create and design. For creative programmers who don’t want to be restricted by their language, Ruby is an ideal option.
Start learning Ruby now, and see all of the things that you can do with a mastery of this popular and dynamic language.