learning ruby

I picked up my copy of the Pickaxe book four years ago – it’s even signed by Dave Thomas. I started to learn and poke at it a couple of times, but didn’t make any serious forays into it. The past couple of days is changing that. After a deep dark struggle with myself, I decided that I needed to learn and know a lot more about Ruby and Ruby on Rails. I’m not abandoning Django at all – but I suspect that knowing another framework with a similar mindset and a different language will do nothing but good for me. Shoot – I’ve got outstanding work to get done in the Django world on our Django Queue Service… can’t back out now.

The dark seed behind the whole ruby thing is  – I suspect more people would be willing to learn it than Django. It’s got more hype, more books, more caché. I’m not even going to claim one is superior to the other – both do some rockin’ good stuff – but Rails has the word. For myself, and for projects that I’ll be supporting either alone or not intending to hand off – Django is the thing. It’s my secret web-app weapon. Not unlike cocoa for most mac programmers. It’s amazing what a single person can get done with the right tools. There are some projects coming up, however, where I’m going to have to convince some others to pick up and learn. Maybe even support. I think at least being able to knock out webapps in Ruby with Rails will be a benefit there.

The oddest thing for me right now is the syntactic  sugar that ruby uses for blocks, iterators and closures. It’s neat and darned concise – I’ll give it that, but it sure doesn’t feel natural. The other thing that I think will take a little getting used to is the library set. It’s a great, beautiful library if API’s to get things done, but the capitalization is causing me to stumble all over the damn place. The language, although a little foreign on my tongue right now, is pretty cool. I think Matz did a fine job of coming up with his Babel-17.

I think it’ll be a while before I’m able to sling code with like other ruby natives, but I’m guessing not that long at all really. The biggest stumbling block for the whole “convention over configuration” thing is just learning the damn conventions. And there’s a nice pile of books available to help with that.

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