Both languages have their own strengths and suit different needs. This in-depth, side-by-side comparison will arm you with the knowledge to pick the right language for your goals.
Here‘s a quick rundown of their main differences:
|Type System||Dynamic||Loosely typed|
|Speed||Slower||Very fast (V8)|
|Purpose||Backend, web apps||Front-end, full stack|
First, let‘s examine the history and motivations behind these two influential languages:
The Creation of Ruby
Ruby was conceived in 1993 by Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto in Japan. Matz was motivated to create an object-oriented scripting language that balanced programmer productivity with fun.
He blended aspects of his favorite languages like Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada and Lisp to design Ruby as a general-purpose language optimized for developer happiness and simplicity.
After refining the initial Ruby interpreter (named Ruby 0.95), the first stable version Ruby 1.0 was released in 1996. Enthusiasm grew around Ruby‘s expressive syntax and transparent object-oriented design.
Ruby gained international recognition in the 2000s after the launch of the Ruby on Rails web application framework in 2004. Rails introduced innovative patterns like convention over configuration that inspired new frameworks in other languages.
Today, Ruby has a strong following and active community. The latest version is Ruby 3.0 released in 2020.
Purpose and Usage
Ruby is a general-purpose language well suited for web development. It is commonly used to build web applications and APIs using popular frameworks like Ruby on Rails.
Ruby code runs on the Ruby Virtual Machine. It needs the Ruby environment and libraries installed locally.
Ruby utilizes dynamic typing where variables don‘t need explicit type declarations. Types are handled at runtime.
Object Oriented Programming
Syntax and Readability
Strengths of Ruby
Now that we‘ve compared some core aspects, let‘s focus on some of Ruby‘s biggest strengths:
Ruby‘s expressive syntax, dynamic typing, and meta-programming features lead to very high developer productivity. Much less code and boilerplate is needed compared to other languages like Java.
The syntax design, influenced by natural language, makes Ruby very readable. Code written by other developers is easy to understand.
Open Source Ecosystem
Ruby has a vibrant open source ecosystem centered around the Ruby on Rails web framework as well as tools like RSpec, Sinatra, and Puma.
Object Oriented Programming
With everything as an object, Ruby encourages good object-oriented analysis and design. Ruby‘s flexibility makes OOP easy.
Ruby‘s simplicity, metaprogramming, and OOP support make it a great choice for hacking together prototypes and proofs of concept quickly.
Ruby provides advanced metaprogramming capabilities allowing developers to extend or modify code at runtime for amazing flexibility.
Built-in MiniTest framework plus widely used external libraries like RSpec make testing productivity seamless in Ruby.
Back-end with Node.js
Modern JS engines provide near native code performance via advanced optimizations like just-in-time (JIT) compilation.
Native async/await syntax hugely simplifies writing asynchronous, non-blocking programs compared to languages like Python or PHP.
Use Cases and Suitability
Use Ruby For:
- Rapid prototyping and experimentation
- Server-side web applications and services
- Backend programming and scripting
- Situations valuing developer productivity
- Small to medium sized projects
- A balance of simplicity and powerful features
- Front-end web and mobile development
- UI intensive web applications
- Real-time and collaborative applications like chat
- Cross-platform apps and frameworks
- Programming GPUs and microcontrollers
- Full stack development
- Performance critical applications
- Startups needing quick time to market
For New Web Applications
- Use Ruby on Rails if you value quick development and more conventions
For backend work, Ruby and Rails provide a full featured and productive framework while Node.js offers other benefits like performance and language uniformity.
Overall, both languages are excellent choices for modern web and mobile development.
Summary of Key Differences
Which Language Should You Learn?
Learning Ruby If:
- You value simplicity, readability and expressiveness.
- You want to work on backend services and APIs.
- Your focus is more on applications and product capabilities than underlying performance.
- You want exposure to more computer science fundamentals like OOP.
- You want to focus on frontend web or mobile development.
- You‘re interested in modern web programming with React, Angular, and other JS frameworks.
- You need your skills to be as marketable as possible for web jobs.
- You want to build real-time collaborative applications.
Consider Learning Both