- Dave Thomas with Chad Fowler and Andy Hunt
In my professional capacity, as a programmer of long standing, I’ve used a few languages: Pascal, Cobol, Silicon Office, Focus and currently Informix 4gl/Four J’s and ASP.NET. Some I’ve liked using, some I’ve hated with passion. Visual Basic I tinkered with for a while at home and I just thought it was vile. Having a little bit of code embedded in a field on a tab of a property of a button just did not appeal to me at all. I am a little ‘old-school’ in that regard. I like to be able to open the program in a text editor and know that the reason it isn’t working is in the file somewhere. And the fact that I hate using a mouse to edit programs with doesn’t help.
Last December I decided to learn Ruby on Rails and bought the Agile Web Development with Rails book. I worked through the first hundred pages or so but felt that I need to know more about Ruby as a language before I moved onto Rails. Some people have programmed Rails without the need to learn Ruby but I’ve come from a procedural development background instead of an object orientated one.
This book is the definitive guide to the Ruby language and is sometimes call the PickAxe after the cover photo. It deals with all facets of Ruby from the initial tutorial, for people new to the language like me, to the comprehensive reference section at the back detailing all the methods, classes and modules.
I must admit that I struggled a little at first. Not because of a problem with the book more a problem with trying to get my rapidly ageing brain cells to think in new and different ways. Having just a couple of hours in the evening didn’t exactly help either. But I did manage to read everything up to the reference section, so that I knew what the language was capable of. The more I read the more depressed I became. Realising that one line of code in Ruby could take me hours to code using 4gl at work just to perform the same task. You really are spoilt rotten by what the language can do.
It’s a book that you will always have to hand because of the reference section at the back. As a programmer, there is nothing better than flicking through a user manual and finding something new about the language that you thought you knew so well. In that regard this book will be invaluable.