Ruby is one of the most popular of the “newer” languages out on the market. In particular, it is the “Rails” framework for building web sites and applications that has made it so. As a perpetual learner, especially of coding languages and techniques, I was eager to give Ruby a try and decided to take a look at The Book of Ruby: A Hands-On Guide for the Adventurous by Huw Collingbourne.
This book is great for those that are just getting into programming, or seasoned developers like me that are picking up a new language from scratch. Most of the book deals with a lot of the fundamentals of programming: object creation and inheritance, exception handling, string manipulation, loops, conditionals, and more. For the seasoned programmer, you will be able to quickly pickup the syntax of the Ruby language. For the beginner, there is plenty of semantics to explain what each feature is and what it does. After learning the fundamentals, the book gives a chapter on regular expressions and threading, which will help the beginner move into the more complex world of programming.
After this, Ruby on Rails is outlined. I found this chapter particularly insightful, as it covers all the basics of the MVC programming model, for which Rails is based off of. It shows you how to get a simple blog site up and running quick and easily. This also demonstrates the power that the basic Ruby tools provides for you to use. The chapter briefly mentions the scaffolding and migration features that can help with your database design and deployment. I wish there was a little more description on these topics, but doing a little more research online and talking to my friend helped me understand that more.
There are plenty of code samples in each chapter of the book. The complete versions of these samples are also available for download. As a “hands on” type learner, I often had my laptop open so I could create the code samples provided, run them, and then modify them to make sure I knew what I was doing. This was one of the best features of the book.
The final chapters provide reference material as well as covering the topic of dynamic programming, which allows a Ruby program to effectively modify itself. This is an advanced topic to some degree, and the chapter helps provide you with the basics, but more reading is needed to really master this subject.
The Book of Ruby is an easy to read book that is perfect for programming beginners or seasoned programmers looking to learn a new language. It covers all the fundamentals of the language, as well as gives a great start into the Rails framework and dynamic programming. The code samples provided make it easy to see the concepts fleshed out in code, and you can easily get your own Ruby environment up and running to learn as you code.