A poignant book, tenderly written
June 3, 2005 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby So you’ve got to know that synergy doesn’t actually mean synergy in this book. I can’t do normal synergy. No, in this book, synergy means cartoon foxes. What I’m saying is: this book will be starting off with an exorbitant amount of cartoon foxes. And I will be counting on you to turn them into synergy. Possibly the funniest computer programming book ever written.
posted by carmen (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Also here. Love it, though.
posted by fatllama at 7:33 PM on June 3, 2005

He needs to finish that work. I finished in a couple of hours, only to run into a non-existent Chap 6.
posted by Gyan at 7:40 PM on June 3, 2005

d'oh!! I did search, I swear. Sorry.
posted by carmen at 7:47 PM on June 3, 2005

I ran into this by accident awhile ago, and my feeling was that he was trying too hard. He often went for the funny but unclear example... going for humor over substance.

It can be quite amusing at times, but I found it annoying as often as not. I like a funny manual as much as anyone, but not when it interferes with its primary function.

Would never have occurred to me to post it to MeFi... it'll be interesting to see how other people react to it.
posted by Malor at 8:02 PM on June 3, 2005

I don't use Ruby myself, but I read the guide and liked it a lot. I'm learning Mono now, and have started work on Greg's (Spooky) Guide to Boo, but its a long way from finished.
posted by gsteff at 8:20 PM on June 3, 2005

I've been meaning to learn a dynamically typed language and I've narrowed it down to either Ruby or Lisp. I'm leaning towards Ruby because I think it would be easier and have a quicker payoff.
posted by Bort at 9:04 PM on June 3, 2005

Well, I've been seeing a lot of projects in Ruby lately, so I was already interested. This just pushes me a little farther towards the metaphysical getting off of the butt.
posted by Samizdata at 9:31 PM on June 3, 2005

chunky bacon!
chunky bacon!
chunky bacon!
chunky bacon!
chunky bacon!

The real reason you want to know Ruby is Ruby on Rails.
posted by spock at 10:40 PM on June 3, 2005

The geeks in my company love ruby.
posted by mosch at 1:25 AM on June 4, 2005

Are there any other computer-related books in this manner? This is, apart from the For Dummies-Series, which in my opinion too often goes for brash humor over substance. Something that uses humor, and characters and cartoons in an entertaining matter to explain complicated subjects. Maybe something in the vein of Goedel, Escher, Bach?
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 1:44 AM on June 4, 2005

Before I commit to reading this lengthy, if amusing, guide to Ruby, I must ask- does anyone here write code in Ruby? Is it worth it? Do you think there will be a demand for Ruby programmers any time in the near future?
posted by afroblanca at 7:46 AM on June 4, 2005

posted by krebby at 9:18 AM on June 4, 2005

I'm a Ruby programmer. When I first started learning it, my previous experience was with Perl, C, and C++. I bought Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt's book when they first sold copies of it at OOPSLA 2000 in Minneapolis, and I still remember how excited I was after I read the opening chapter and had to stay up all night to read the whole damn book. I ended up missing all the talks the next day, it was that good.

At the time, I was working for Amazon, and had written dozens of complex OO systems in Perl for them. Perl is a pretty good language, but it really falls down when you're doing large OO projects. There are modules on CPAN to help with this, but in the end, you're using a language that wasn't really designed for OO concepts, Perl's features in that department were kind of grafted on. I say this as someone who was a vocal proponent of Perl at Amazon, and wrote well over 100k lines of it for them.

Ruby isn't perfect, but it has a nice combination of relatively clean syntax, lots of high-level language features, and a deep pedigree in the OO department. The thing about learning Ruby is that you will undoubtedly become a better architect of OO systems by using it. It has a lot of syntactic sugar for defining classes and their attributes, and it's much more dynamic than Perl. Reflection is much more structured, and you can even redefine classes and their methods on the fly.

And one of the unofficial Ruby mottos is that it makes programming fun again. No language is perfect, but for me, Ruby is the best scripting language out there for OO work, I feel I can scale it from small one-off scripts to writing complex systems and services. The developer community with Ruby is great too. It has one of the highest hacker-to-normal-developer ratios I've ever seen for a language community.

The Ruby job market is a little small now, but I'm hearing about companies who are replacing internal Perl scripts with Ruby ones, and Rails is pretty hot these days. There are a few companies who are hiring for Rails now, and I'm seeing more and more job listings that list Ruby as one of the bonus-if-you-know-it languages.

There's also some good stuff happening in the Ruby core these days. A new bytecode-based interpreter is going to be released in the next year or so, and it's much faster than the old interpreter. Also, people are working on fixing Ruby's user-level threads and adding support for OS native threads. And the JRuby project (a Ruby interpreter written in Java that gives you the ability to mix and match Java and Ruby code when writing applications) is terribly attractive if you want to use Ruby to prototype Java apps.

So as far as learning Ruby goes, I think it's worth it if you have the time to spare and don't mind spending time learning a language that you might not necessarily get a job with. It *will* make you a better designer and architect, so for me, that was enough of a reason to learn it. And if I was going to do a startup, I would use Ruby to prototype the software, and probably run the production code on it as well. It's one of those Paul Graham secret weapon languages where you can get a lot of work done quickly.
posted by beaverd at 12:53 PM on June 4, 2005

Herr, I thought Oh Pascal! by Doug Cooper and Michael J. Clancy was actually funnier and more clear than the Poignant Guide.
posted by klarck at 6:08 PM on June 4, 2005

How does Ruby compare to Python?
posted by zerolucid at 9:54 PM on June 4, 2005

Clearly derivative of Mr. Bunny's Guide to ActiveX, the most useful ActiveX book ever published. Don't miss the table of contents!
posted by jewzilla at 12:48 AM on June 5, 2005

IANAP (I am not a programmer) but have always been interested in programming since I have a techie (HW) background, have done some HTML/Perl tweaking, and love problem solving.

Recently I decided to give programming a go and looked around ask.me for advice on languages. After a few threads I decided to go with ruby.

I started with this guide (from the provided link) and am on ch 10.

I have to say that I am really enjoying the guide and the programming. Ruby was easy to install and I run programs from cygwin. It has been fun as heck. I am an avid gamer with a brand spankin new copy of "God of War" in the other room but I have spent the last 3 hours programming if that tells you anything.

The guide I linked to is a good one if you are an utter noob. It explains things pretty well, but doesn't tell you everything or give you answers to problems. I found myself annoyed at times - wanting more information - however - I just kept trying things until I got the programs to work. It is a very rewarding feeling to work for several hours on something and have it come together.

I will probably be heading over to ask.me again soon to ask if anyone knows of some more "problems" to solve like the ones in the linked tutorial. I kind of wish there was a "programming club" like a "book club" where I could work with a few people on ruby problems, compare code, and chat about ruby programming with people who are as new to this (and programming in general) as I am. Maybe that is a good ask.me question too.

Oh, and Rails is what sold me on Ruby.
posted by jopreacher at 12:53 AM on June 5, 2005

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