A Complete Guide to the Ruby Programming World

I hope to see Ruby help every programmer in the world to be productive, and to enjoy programming, and to be happy. That is the primary purpose of Ruby language.

Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, the creator of Ruby

The very first stable version of Ruby was released 23 years go, way back in 1996. This makes Ruby a pretty mature programming language, and it still remains one of the most popular and used languages in the world.

The reason for that is very simple: Ruby satisfies the needs of people, not machines. 

In a study that HackerRank did in 2018, almost 40,000 developers were asked for their preferred programming language they use, or plan to use. According to this study, Ruby ranked the 5th among the most popular languages.

ruby popularityTo display the relevance of Ruby, there are other studies that confirm it:

  • Ruby is on the top 15 most popular languages according to RedMonk rating and TIOBE index.
  • Ruby is listed 13th on the Stack Overflow developer community.
  • Github states that Ruby was one of the top five languages according to the number of pull requests in the last year.

stack overflow ruby

Welcome to the complete guide to the Ruby programming world

The key principles of Ruby culture

We'll start the guide to Ruby programming world with the key principles.

#1 – Ruby was created for developers

Metaprogramming is a technique that enables developers to write code in Ruby that writes other code. Applied with different and various tricks and tools like:

  • Ghost methods
  • Introspection
  • Class macros

metaprogramming gives developers flexibility and also helps them save time and write fewer blocks of code. The downside might be that testing may eventually become a little bit more difficult

Also, Ruby is fast to write.

Even though Ruby might not be the fastest language in terms of running and processing requests, a lot of statistics show that the speed of writing the code and developing software with Ruby is 30-40% faster than other languages. And if you know a team that works with Ruby, you can ask them and they will prove it to you.

And another great thing is that everything is an object. When you create an object from a class, it can get its own class which is known as a singleton. For this particular reason, each object in Ruby can be unique and have its own methods and props. On the other hand, other languages have unnecessary and annoying constraints in this aspect.

#2 – The focus on code quality

Code quality is crucial for any app – nobody you will meet will ever want to use laggy software with bugs. Period.

Ruby allows developers to ensure the highest quality standards. And the syntax is what makes Ruby special. Ruby code is intuitive, so it takes less effort to write, read and maintain it.

Of course, code quality depends a lot on compliance with common standards and best practices. In the Ruby ecosystem, the standards are approved by a glocal community, and they are fixed in the Ruby style guide. 

While we're at the ecosystem, it's also worth mentioning that it is perfectly tooled for testing, which is a great indication of producing clean code.

The Ruby community has created a lot of testing and test automation frameworks that allow developers to easily write tests and run them. Below are some of the most popular testing tools for Ruby:

  • Minitest − Ruby’s standard library that provides a complete suite of testing tools
  • RSpec − a behavior-driven development framework for validating the development of applications
  • Capybara − simulates a browser and users’ interactions with an application

Ruby's focus on quality brings a lot of advantages for businesses and developers in general, such as:

  1. Maintainability: Ruby's intuitiveness makes it easy for devs to understand how an app works, and they can easily pick up an existing project and maintain it.
  2. Simple debugging: Since Ruby's code is tremendously easy to read and understand, it's much easier to track down and fix bugs too.
  3. Great application performance: The clean code provides a smooth and trouble-free performance, which delivers pleasant customer experience.
#3 Maintained by the community

People tend to unite around great things, and no wonder Ruby has such a huge and active community.

Actually, the community is a centerpiece of Ruby's success and popularity. Not only does it lend a helping hand to the new developers, but it also maintains Ruby and moves it forward by constantly creating new frameworks, tools, and libraries that benefit Ruby developers.

The best example for this is Ruby on Rails that has helped scores of projects get off the ground and achieve greatness. Ruby on Rails relies purely on conventions aimed at writing less code and the concept of DRY (Don't repeat yourself). Moreover, this framework is also open source, which means you can use it at no cost at all.

The Ruby community has also crafted a lot of open source tools that developers easily create fully functional, secure and cost-effective apps from scratch.

Do you need an online store website? Easy. Rails offer open-source eCommerce platforms.

How about a CMS for managing the content of your website? No problem at all. There are tons of open-source content management systems

Not to forget to mention that it's almost impossible to speak about the Ruby language without mentioning gems. Gems are libraries that handle a variety of development tasks. For instance, gems help Ruby programmers:

  • Implement authentication
  • Detect vulnerabilities
  • Find bugs
  • Manage payments.

Currently, there are over 150,000 gems developers use to create amazing applications with Ruby.

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails is often dubbed (unfairly) as an outdated and very slow framework. The Ruby community strongly disagrees with this opinion. The recent version of Rails supports a modern frontend and offers very reliable tools that are convenient and very pleasant to work with.

According to BuiltWith, there are more than one million web platforms that are developed using Ruby on Rails. The most famous ones are these below:

project of ruby on rails

To prove the point further, the Airbnb team stated that: “Yes, at Airbnb we use Rails for our stack. Instead of ditching Rails for its drawbacks, we've come up with solutions for its main issues, making it work well for payments. This enables us to continue to enjoy many benefits it provides”

What kinds of businesses benefit from Ruby on Rails?

The business benefit is something that must be included in the guide to Ruby programming world.

Most of those companies that are listed above began their path as startups, and today are very influential companies.

Ruby on Rails is a very startup-friendly framework due to its flexibility, development speed, and code quality. So, a combination of Ruby language and the Rails framework is a great duo and an optimal choice for startups.

Interestingly enough, over the course of time, the Rails community has proven that it's also an enterprise-friendly framework too. In fact, Ruby on Rails copes with a lot of enterprise demands.

  1. Reliable: At least through the last decade, Rails has proven its reliability and demonstrated opportunities for consistently scaling any kind of product. Therefore, it's safe to say that this framework is a solid basis for successful platforms of any size, starting from startups to large enterprises.
  2. Performance: The level of Rails performance, accounting for speed, efficiency, and software resources required, is high enough for any enterprise to use. In fact, the Ruby on Rails has demonstrated a high performance since Ruby 1.9 and 3 were released. And, Rails keeps on showing even higher success rates.
  3. Integrations: Thanks to the Rails community and the activities of IT leaders, integrating enterprise software with Ruby on Rails is way faster and more efficient today than it was, say seven years ago. Additionally, Ruby can integrate and coexist with Java, .NET and other different platforms perfectly.
  4. Digital transformation: Ruby is a perfect solution to current issues of digitalization. It offers ready-made solutions for any business needs, starting from automating operational processes to improving customer order processing and employee management processes.

Ruby restrictions

Even though Ruby has a lot of benefits for solving the most complex issues, it's still not perfect. 

Like any other language, it has its disadvantages too. Here are some of them you might face with Ruby:

  • Performance: This made the list as the advantage and disadvantage too. Despite the high speed of development, Ruby doesn't always demonstrate the highest performance. On one hand, it runs many operations for the developer's convenience, including managing memory for dynamic typing. On the other hand, the volume of such operations affects the performance, This isn't necessarily problematic, but it could improve though.
  • Multithreading: Ruby supports multithreading, but the algorithm is not implemented perfectly. This might lead to performance issues. Additionally, Ruby's multithreading algorithm is actually very unpredictable: it might switch from one thread to another at any time! This, of course, affects data processing and the speed of the entire process. Luckily, the Ruby community is currently working on this particular issue.
  • Rails domination: Another kind of restriction concerns the Ruby frameworks. Rails is a very good solution, but its popularity weakens and slows down the development of other frameworks like Sinatra and Hanami.


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