"Big in Japan" was a pejorative term for failed pop musicians, but it accurately describes the Ruby language, designed by Yukihiro Matsumoto. The authors--who wrote The Pragmatic Programmer--feel it deserves a wider exposure in the English-speaking world.
Ruby is fully object oriented with a simple and consistent syntax. It is Open Source and freely available from ftp:ftp.netlab.co.jp/pub/lang/ruby as well as many mirrors. In Programming Ruby the authors set out to show that Ruby can and should replace languages such as Perl, Python, SmallTalk and C++; from which it takes all the best features--even Perl's excellent regular expression support.
The book is in four parts: a tutorial; a section on installing and running it in various environments; a section on the inner workings and interrelationships of the language; and, finally, a huge library reference. The authors make their case for the language's simplicity, predictability and flexibility. Unlike languages which have grown by accretion, such as Perl, it is remarkably clean.
Clearly a labour of love, Programming Ruby is equally clean and the authors' enthusiasm for it drips from the pages. Certainly, if you are passionate about efficient, error-free coding Ruby is hard to beat. There are, though, an awful lot of languages available already.
Ruby is certainly worth a look just to see how simple and accessible an object-oriented language can be when its author can draw on the best and throw away the rest. Working programmers will decide whether Ruby gains widespread acceptance but in Programming Ruby it has a powerful and convincing advocate. --Steve Patient [via]