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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru worchyld's Avatar
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    What is Ruby, and why should I care?

    Why is that when a new language comes out, everyone jumps on the bandwagon and says it's the latest, greatest thing since sliced bread -- surely, Ruby - like PHP/.NET, Ruby is just a tool.

    I know a lot of larger new media companies in the south use .NET or c# a lot, to be honest I was never really interested in it because I work with smaller businesses and use PHP/MySQL to the best of my abilities.

    But somebody said that Ruby is even better than PHP or .NET because its more OO orientated and you can knock out websites faster, or something.

    So what is Ruby? What is Ruby on Rails? Isn't PHP enough? What does Ruby need? Does it run on apache? Does it use MySQL database? is Ruby a programming language or a framework for php?

    I'm a bit confused by the hype over Ruby - so if someone can explain it, that'd be great.

  2. #2
    Is Still Alive silver trophybronze trophy RetroNetro's Avatar
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    I am no expert on Ruby or any variation there of, but there is a thread with alot of resources at the top of this forum, one or more of them will surely answer your questions.

    http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=281181

    Hope you get the answers you are looking for

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru worchyld's Avatar
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    Thanks, the Getting started to ruby and Learn to program (Chris Pine) was very useful.

    In the examples it shows Ruby can be run on windows command prompt, but I'm not sure of its actual web benefits - will it make a website that "add/edit/delete articles" better or faster to make?

    Is Ruby better at seperating logic from presentation? Does it automatically clean up content copy/pasted from MS Word?

    I'm interested in seeing how Ruby actually works for a live site - the examples I've seen remind me of when I started to learn (but unfortuently didn't finish) Java and I couldn't see how a command prompt language would benefit a website, which doesn't use command prompt.

    In terms of GUI programming -- I'm interested in the cross computer abilities of Ruby - what does a GUI programmed by Ruby look like? Will a program written in Ruby on a Windows machine work on a linux machine? What about PDA's?

    Sorry, I seem to have rambled on a bit here...

  4. #4
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    Why don't you search the web rather than call for people to convince you to use it.

  5. #5
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    So what is Ruby? What is Ruby on Rails? Isn't PHP enough? What does Ruby need? Does it run on apache? Does it use MySQL database? is Ruby a programming language or a framework for php?
    First we'll answer the easy, quick questions.

    • What is Ruby? - Ruby is a full featured, Object Oriented, multi-platform, scripted programming language, well suited for many tasks.
    • What is Ruby on Rails? - Ruby on Rails is a web application framework written in Ruby.
    • Isn't PHP enough? - Aren't CGI scripts written in C or Perl enough?
    • What does Ruby need? - Braaaaiiiins. Not sure what you mean here, but in order to use Ruby as a normal programming language you need a Ruby interpreter and the Ruby standard library. Binary packages exist for a multitude of platforms, and I think I've heard people saying that it comes installed on OS X. You will need other things if you plan on using it for web applications.
    • Does it run on Apache? - Yes and no. Ruby in and of itself doesn't run inside of Apache (neither does PHP, incidentally), you will need something such as mod_ruby to accomplish that, but it is doable.
    • Does it use MySQL database? - Ruby doesn't use any RDBMS, bindings are provided for any RDBMS assuming that the necessary libraries are present on the system. But if what you're asking is "Can I do the equivalent of the mysql_* functions in PHP?" then the answer is yes.
    • Is Ruby a programming language or a framework for php? - Ruby is a stand-alone programming language, not related to PHP in any way. It is also not a framework.


    #1
    In the examples it shows Ruby can be run on windows command prompt, but I'm not sure of its actual web benefits - will it make a website that "add/edit/delete articles" better or faster to make?

    #2
    Is Ruby better at seperating logic from presentation? Does it automatically clean up content copy/pasted from MS Word?

    #3
    I'm interested in seeing how Ruby actually works for a live site - the examples I've seen remind me of when I started to learn (but unfortuently didn't finish) Java and I couldn't see how a command prompt language would benefit a website, which doesn't use command prompt.

    #4
    In terms of GUI programming -- I'm interested in the cross computer abilities of Ruby - what does a GUI programmed by Ruby look like? Will a program written in Ruby on a Windows machine work on a linux machine? What about PDA's?
    (Numbers added by me for easy referencing.)

    And so, on to the more advanced questions.

    #1
    Ruby can be run on the windows command prompt (or an OS X/Unix/Linux shell) if you wish, as can PHP if you wish. On Windows the installer package will automatically create file assosciations so that if you double-click a *.rb file it will automatically be run with the Ruby interpreter. It will run in the command prompt, but you don't have to first enter the command prompt in order to run it.

    Ruby in and of itself is not a web application language. You can write CGI scripts in Ruby and run them using Apache, or you can use such things as eRuby (embedded Ruby) and mod_ruby to be able to use Ruby in the same way you do PHP - embedded in HTML pages.

    Assuming you run the bare version of mod_ruby/eRuby, I'd say the difference in development time between PHP and Ruby depends on which language you feel more comfortable with. Ask yourself which of the following feels more natural and you'll have the answer:
    PHP Code:
    # Ruby
    array_of_strings.each do |string|
        
    # Manipulate string here.
    end

    # PHP
    foreach ($array_of_strings as $string)
    {
        
    # Manipulate string here.

    #2
    As previously mentioned, Ruby is not a web application language, and it does no worse a job of separating logic from presentation than PHP does. It is embedded with the HTML if you run mod_ruby/eRuby, and thus you will have to use programming techniques to separate logic from presentation.

    What does MS Word have to do with this I wonder... I'll try and answer this one anyway. Ruby does not contain any built in functionality (core library, standard library) to handle MS Word documents as far as I know. It is quite possible that someone has written a module for this however. If you expand your question I may be able to give a more satisfying answer.

    #3
    Do you want to see where mod_ruby/eRuby is used on their own or do you want to see a page that uses the web application framework Ruby on Rails? The webpage for RoR (http://www.rubyonrails.org/) use RoR of course, but it also contain links to other pages that use RoR.

    While not being an actual site, this thread in this forum contain examples of how eRuby/mod_ruby looks like in code.

    #4
    There are several GUI toolkit bindings available for Ruby, but the one for the TK toolkit is provided as a part of the standard ruby distribution, so it may be best to start with that one. Here is a sample of a Ruby/TK application on a GNU/Linux platform. On Windows they look like standard windows applications. I have no idea how it looks on OS X. As the Ruby/TK library is provided with the standard distribution of Ruby, a Ruby/TK application will run on any platform that has Ruby installed.

    Assuming you don't compile to a binary, and that you don't do anything stupid like require people to select drive names (only Windows has them) or mess up with file paths etc. then a Ruby application will run perfectly fine on any platform that has Ruby installed.

    I have no information on whether they work with PDA's or not. They should do, provided that Ruby is installed on the target platform.

    With those questions answered, let me just say that we're not here to convince you to use Ruby. We're here because we use Ruby and we'd like to talk to other people who do the same. Trying to get someone to convice you to use Programming Language X is pretty silly in my opinion. Download a Ruby distribution for your platform, read the Pragmatic Programmers book on Ruby and see for yourself.

    I did, and now it's my favourite language.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard DougBTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by worchyld
    I'm a bit confused by the hype over Ruby - so if someone can explain it, that'd be great.
    Most of the hype is about Rails, which happens to be written in a programming language called Ruby.

    Quote Originally Posted by worchyld
    Is Ruby better at seperating logic from presentation?
    Ruby is just a programming language, it lets you put your code wherever you like.

    Rails does help seperating logic from presentation. Here's a picture of the separation:



    The logic goes in the blue and red bits, the presentation goes in the green bit.

    hth,
    Douglas
    Hello World

  7. #7
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougBTX


    The logic goes in the blue and red bits, the presentation goes in the green bit.
    Except that under Rails the red bit is done for you for the most part

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy asp_funda's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by worchyld
    Why is that when a new language comes out, everyone jumps on the bandwagon and says it's the latest, greatest thing since sliced bread -- surely, Ruby - like PHP/.NET, Ruby is just a tool.
    Yes, Ruby is just another language, like PHP, Python, C# etc. etc. but its not new, its been around for abt 10 years or more, its just that nobody paid it real attention till recently, with recent developments one of which is RubyOnRails.

    Quote Originally Posted by worchyld
    So what is Ruby? What is Ruby on Rails? Isn't PHP enough? What does Ruby need? Does it run on apache? Does it use MySQL database? is Ruby a programming language or a framework for php?
    1) Ruby is a language.
    2) RubyOnRails is a framework for Ruby which helps you knock web applications in Ruby a lot faster.
    3) Isn't PHP enough? Its just like asking "wasn't C enough?". If it was, then there wouldn't be PHP or ASP or Java etc. Its upto you as a user of the language, if PHP is enough for you then don't look anywhere & continue about your work. You as a programmer can answer that question better for yourself, if PHP is enough for you or not!! For me, ofcourse its not enough that's why I also know ASP & JSP & am learning Ruby then will look at Python & maybe perhaps .NET as well!!
    4) Perhaps Ruby can answer this better as to what she needs!!
    5) Yes, Ruby can run on apache but the recommended server is Lighttpd.
    6) Yes, Ruby can use MySQL as well as PgSQL & Oracle & I think any other database as well.
    7) Ruby has nothing to do with PHP, its a full programming language, RubyOnRails is a framework for Ruby.
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Guru worchyld's Avatar
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    That's great -- many thanks for your help on this.

    The reason why I wanted to use this forum (instead of say using google) is because a forum is used to raise and answer questions, I like forums because its a safe environment to explore ideas, concepts. Am I wrong to do this? I sure hope not.

    If I just relied on google I would get information - but it'd be quantitative and not qualative (sorry for spelling).

    I hope I've not mis-understood what this forum was originally set up for -- all I wanted to do is "clear" away the hype around Ruby.

    Thanks for your help! I've learnt a lot today.

  10. #10
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    The way I see it, Ruby doesn't have to replace all your PHP code if you get into it. It's just another tool in your toolbox. My next site will probably be PHP once again (because of integration with off-the-shelf packages, as well as my relative n00bishness in deploying Rails apps) and I still use nothing but Java at work, but Ruby's there if I need it

  11. #11
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    Ruby is a great language but it doesn't have to replace php. I've worked with php for around 4 years and still think its a great language for website work. But I picked up ruby and then rails last Novemeber and I can tell you that it is definitely a worthwile tool to add to you arsenal. In May05 I was tasked with redesign and rebuilding the web site for the newspaper that I work for and I decided to use Ruby on Rails to do it. It was originally written in about 5000 lines of php. You can see the old php site here : http://legacy.yakimaherald.com. The new site was built in 3.5 months in under 1500 lines of ruby code and has much more functionality than the old site. I also codoed it entirely by myself with one designer making templates. Here is the new site: http://yakimaherald.com.
    If you keep an open mind and realise that ruby is just another tool for your toolbox I think it will only benefit you php coding skills. When I approach projects now I use ruby and rails for the overall picture and design of the code base. But there is nothing stopping me from knocking out some quick php pages to process forms or other simple functionality that doesn't require a whole OO aproach. Remember you can still serve php scripts out of the public folder of your Ruby on Rails app. So you can gradually switch over to ruby as you go and don't have to make the whole jump at once.
    I can only speak for myself but I heartily recommend that anyone with any interest in OO and Design patterns needs to check out ruby. It will expand you horizons and who knows it might become your new favorite tool.
    Last edited by ezmobius1; Sep 23, 2005 at 10:42.

  12. #12
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    Code:
    name: ReferenceError
    message: Statement on line 62: Reference to undefined variable: setCookie
    Backtrace:
      Line 62 of linked script http://yakimaherald.com/javascripts/stickit.js
        setCookie("cookieTest", true);
    
    Yakima Herald Republic Online - Yakima, Washington News, Classifieds, Information, Advertising
    http://yakimaherald.com/
    Timeout thread: delay 100 ms
    Error:
    name: TypeError
    message: Statement on line 122: Could not convert undefined or null to object
    Backtrace:
      Line 122 of linked script http://yakimaherald.com/javascripts/stickit.js
        (document.getElementById("MDW-stickIt-ad")).style.display = "block";
      Line 114 of linked script http://yakimaherald.com/javascripts/stickit.js
        closeAd();
      Line 1 of unknown script 
        showStickIt();
    That popped up in my JS console on the yakimaherald.com webpage. Just FYI.
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  13. #13
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    Thanks for that. Its fixed now.

  14. #14
    throw me a bone ... now bonefry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by worchyld
    But somebody said that Ruby is even better than PHP or .NET because its more OO orientated and you can knock out websites faster, or something..
    Hi,

    It's very object oriented. That's true. But that's not really the reason it is better for some tasks than PHP/NET. It's all those little things like closures, continuations, builtin regexp syntax, mixins, and many more. To tell you the truth, I really enjoyed Java (until I got used to Ruby) I also used to be attracted by C# (but not anymore)

    Another reason to consider it is that it has a very beautifull design with few flaws. I would compare it with Python here, which is also beautifull, but it has to many hacks (some people like it, me included, but it can be a real pain).

    There is a problem though. Ruby is sooooo slow. And many say that for 90% of all applications you don't need more. That's bulls*hit. Others say that you can detect botlenecks and replace the code with C. Although it's easy to bind C extensions to Ruby, that's also bullsh*it.
    (IMO Ruby will always be a scripting language until all the libs/compiler/VM will be written in Ruby)

    My advice is to use Ruby for web applications (where PHP was king) and for scripting jobs (it really really shines here). I trully hope that Yarv will be succesfull.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lazy_yogi
    Why don't you search the web rather than call for people to convince you to use it.
    Why use message boards at all? Useless post.

  16. #16
    Afraid I can't do that Dave Hal9k's Avatar
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    Even though I have never used Ruby, from what I gather it's like Python but even more Object Oriented. Python has similar projects like Rails, I think it's just a lot to do with the hype.

    Although I think with a lot of hyped languages you get out what you put in. If you bother to really learn it, and it's systems, then you can make it almost do anything.

  17. #17
    throw me a bone ... now bonefry's Avatar
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    well, not similar projects. only 1 similar project actually:
    http://www.djangoproject.com/
    There are other great projects out there.
    I like Zope and CherryPy and Cheetah, and there are many others I heard good things about.
    But people love the language (although many are attracted to it by rails).
    Because in the world of APIs, Java is king, and judging by that Python and Ruby have no reason to exist. Yet they do.
    Try Ruby then come back and tell us about your experience.
    I challenge you

  18. #18
    throw me a bone ... now bonefry's Avatar
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    A word about hype.

    I do not like hype. I remember year 2001 when I first heard about .NET, the buster, the killer of Java, the saviour of deprecated languages, the revolutionary new way of developing cross platform software with bytecode that compiles on demand, etc... etc...

    But that was a company promoted hype. That was the big mean Microsoft marketing machine.

    This is different, this hype is maintained by Ruby's community. And the same thing happened to PHP. Was the world a better place if PHP haven't had gained this kind of popularity ? Although I began to hate PHP some time ago, I do not think that I was happier coding in ASP

  19. #19
    SitePoint Addict Sojan80's Avatar
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    So just how many programming languages should a web developer be fluent in? Two? Four? Ten? All of them? Does picking up new languages get easier once you have more or less mastered one or two like PHP or Java?

  20. #20
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sojan80
    So just how many programming languages should a web developer be fluent in? Two? Four? Ten? All of them?
    I'd say you should know at least two really well (one compiled language like Java or C#, one scripting language like PHP or Perl), and you should have at least some understanding of what else is out there even if you're not an expert.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sojan80
    Does picking up new languages get easier once you have more or less mastered one or two like PHP or Java?
    Yes, especially if the two languages share similar syntax (i.e. moving from Perl to PHP is easier than moving from Visual Basic to Java).

  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist CapitalWebHost's Avatar
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    Does it run on Apache? - Yes and no. Ruby in and of itself doesn't run inside of Apache (neither does PHP, incidentally), you will need something such as mod_ruby to accomplish that, but it is doable.
    Little more to it then that..LOL...especially in a shared virtual host environment. I just recently added Ruby on Rails to one of my servers and will be offering it soon as part of my hosting packages...just need to do some tweaks and install scripting...it's not just a matter of installing a "mod".

    http://www.talkcss.net is my test bed site if you want to check it out.

    As to performance, yes, it does lack some there for large apps, mainly because it uses CGI as it's engine. This can be greatly improved by installing mod_fastcgi,which I have yet to do, but is next on my list of things this weekend (requires recompile of Apache, something I don't do haphazardly).

    There are some good Windows based tools for running it as well. And the nice thing is it's portability...if you create it on Windows, you can simply move the whole app to your Linux server (if Ruby on Rails is supported) and change a path in one file and bingo...works.

    Also regarding mySQL (or database support in general), it beats PHP hands down in that respect. You simply create you datebase via whatever means (phpmyadmin, etc), and then define it's access info just like you would in PHP (host, user, db, pw) and with only a couple commands have a framework for editing, deleting, adding and viewing records in a table with NO coding.

    Of course with more coding you can do lot more, but just being able to not have to worry about the access methods for the DB is a boost.

  22. #22
    throw me a bone ... now bonefry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sojan80
    So just how many programming languages should a web developer be fluent in? Two? Four? Ten? All of them? Does picking up new languages get easier once you have more or less mastered one or two like PHP or Java?
    The golden rule is to know at least 1 very very well.
    I invite you to read the following article:
    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articl...almerston.html

    The main ideea coming from that article is that 90% of all platforms can be learned in a couple of weeks but for the other 10% (that really matters) it can take years. I happen to agree with him.

    There is no limit to how many languages/platforms you can learn, but learn at least 1 really well.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard drhowarddrfine's Avatar
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    I read a chapter in a book that says to learn one new language a year. But give me assembly language anytime.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Addict Brak's Avatar
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    I think a lot of the hype over ruby is the fact that it produces clean, easy-to-read, beatiful code. Rails extends this in it's framework and makes writing web applications almost as natural as speaking a language after a while. Some examples (rails):

    Code:
    @articles = Article.find(:all, :limit => 10, :order => 'created_on desc')
    
    ...
    
    <% for article in @articles %>
    <h2><%= article.title %> (<%= article.created_on.to_formatted_s(:short) %>)</h2>
    <%= markdown article.excerpt %>
    <%= article.comments.count %> comments
    <% end %>
    Is this to say that Ruby inhertly has an advantage over other scripting languages? Well that all depends on the developer and their opinion toward the language. If you enjoy how ruby feels - you'll be more productive in it. If you feel like you're swimming against the current, you'd probably be happier elsewhere.
    Studio Rockstar's Blog - A journey to quitting the dayjob.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brak
    Code:
    @articles = Article.find(:all, :limit => 10, :order => 'created_on desc')
    
    ...
    
    <% for article in @articles %>
    <h2><%= article.title %> (<%= article.created_on.to_formatted_s(:short) %>)</h2>
    <%= markdown article.excerpt %>
    <%= article.comments.count %> comments
    <% end %>
    I boldfaced the portion that I think is truly remarkable. With Active Record (part of Rails) you only need two lines of code in the models to establish this relationship between articles and comments. After you've put that relationship in place, you can just go wild in the view.

    Code:
    <% if article.has_comments? %>
      There are <%= article.comments.count %>
      <% for comment in article.comments %>
        <%=h comment.text %>
      <% end %>
    <% end %>
    It's that easy. The queries are all done for you, you don't even have to think about it unless there is a performance issue.

    Also, I just ran spell check over this post. Despite several hunks of code posted, the only words listed as misspelled were "Brak" and "desc". Writing coding that is also pretty much plain English, this is the "hype".
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