Kids, Code, and Computer Science Magazine

Ruby

Developed in 1993, Ruby is a highly flexible programming language used in many large scale online applications at Twitter, Kickstarter, and other companies.

The original creator of Ruby, Yukihiro Matsumoto of Japan, wanted to find a programmer friendly scripting language that was not difficult to learn or code with over time. Because he could not find such a language, he developed Ruby. The first release was announced on the Japanese ruby-talk list on December 21, 1995, almost three years after the language was announced on the same list.

Ruby was influenced by the best features and qualities of Perl, SmallTalk, Ada, and Lisp, among other languages. Bad experiences with these languages also influenced the design of Ruby. For example, in Perl there might be a number of ways to accomplish a task while Python has only one way. Ruby chose the Python model. As Matsumoto described in the Ruby Language FAQ:

“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 the smell of a toy language (it still has). The object-oriented 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 maniac 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.”

Ruby is a general purpose object oriented scripting language that is dynamic and reflective. Which is a long way to say the language is designed to spare programmers work required by other less flexible languages.

What Makes Ruby Special?

One interesting feature of Ruby is its reliance on the Principle of Least Astonishment or POLA. As noted in an article published earlier in this magazine, POLA tries to give software users what they expect to see when they expect to see it.

 

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