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What Is Ruby? What Is It Used For?

by Snehal Naik
What Is Ruby What Is It Used For
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In today’s technologically advancing world, programming languages form the backbone of every application used across businesses. Today, everything is app-based, and no business would survive without programming languages. In this blog, we’ll look at Ruby, a top programming language according to the TOIBE index for January 2024. We will also see the strengths and weaknesses of Ruby and its connection to Ruby on Rails. Lastly, we will also dive into the uses of Ruby and popular tools used by Rubyists 

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What is Ruby?

The History of Ruby  

When Yukihiro Matsumoto decided to work on Ruby in 1993, he wanted to create a programming language that has an easy script and was truly object-oriented. As a result, Ruby 0.95 was first released publicly in December 1995. Ruby is a carefully balanced language. Matz is said to have mixed parts of his favorite languages, Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp, to form Ruby.   

The history of ruby

In Matz’s words, “Ruby is simple in appearance, but is very complex inside, just like our human body.” Matz created Ruby because he wanted a scripting language that was “more powerful than Perl, and more object-oriented than Python.” 

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Ruby Versions

Here is a list of Ruby releases for 2023 and 2024. For a complete list of releases, you can visit the official Ruby website 

Release Version Release Date
Ruby 3.2.3 2024-01-18
Ruby 3.3.0 2023-12-25
Ruby 3.3.0-rc1 2023-12-11
Ruby 3.3.0-preview3 2023-11-12
Ruby 3.3.0-preview2 2023-09-14
Ruby 3.3.0-preview1 2023-05-12
Ruby 3.1.4 2023-03-30
Ruby 3.0.6 2023-03-30
Ruby 2.7.8 2023-03-30
Ruby 3.2.1 2023-02-08

In Matz’s words, “Ruby is simple in appearance, but is very complex inside, just like our human body.” Matz created Ruby because he wanted a scripting language that was “more powerful than Perl, and more object-oriented than Python.” 

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Facts About Ruby

  • Ruby is used by more than 3 million websites globally.  
  • Ruby is completely free to use, copy, modify, and distribute.  
  • Ruby is a balance between functional programming and imperative programming. 
  • Ruby is often confused with Ruby on Rails, a framework written in Ruby. 
  • Ruby owes its growth to the popularity of software written in Ruby, particularly the Ruby on Rails web framework. 
  • RubyGems is a central library management system that manages Ruby’s libraries and packages. 
  • Ruby supports multiple programming paradigms. 
  • The Ruby Toolbox is a catalog of all RubyGems to help you with development tasks. 
  • Interactive Ruby/irb, which is a Ruby Interpreter, can be used as a calculator. 
  • Ruby can solve complex mathematical problems with its built-in support for rational numbers and complex numbers. 
  • Ruby allows code embedding. 
  • Ruby users benefit from Dynamic typing and Duck typing. 
  • Ruby understands and uses “nil” instead of “null”. 
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Features of Ruby

Features of Ruby

OOP Support
Ruby offers built-in support for object-oriented programming (OOP). With Ruby, you can easily build and reuse programs, as everything in Ruby is an object, including the basic data types. This also makes it simpler to create classes, inheritance, polymorphism, and encapsulation.    

Dynamic and Flexible 
A data type set for a specific variable can be changed later. Ruby allows for the creation of more expressive programs as it can be used to alter code at runtime. This makes code writing flexible, as there is no need for Declaration like in C or Java.

Open Source and Cross-Platform 
Ruby can be easily downloaded and installed from its official website. It is a free, handy, and practical programming language available for different operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux/UNIX.

Interpreted programming languages like Ruby are widely supported and can be easily installed. Moreover, you can run different versions within the same workstation. For example, if you are writing a program in Ruby version 2.5 and one in version 2.7, the Ruby Version Manager can be used to keep them separated.  

Unlike Java or C, there is no process of compiling the code before with Ruby. Programs interpreted in Ruby are fast, as you can see the results without having to set up a compiler.

Garbage Collection  
The automatic garbage collector in Ruby reclaims unused objects, which prevents memory leaks. The ability to manage memory efficiently reduces the burden on developers, as they don’t have to manually handle memory allocation and deallocation.

Readable and Expressive   
Ruby has a clean and readable syntax that is like natural language. Because of this, understanding code and its maintenance becomes simpler and promotes rapid development.

Large Community Support   
Ruby has an active community of developers with user groups, newsgroups, and even a blog that publishes the latest updates. Its vast libraries and frameworks, like Ruby on Rails, are popular for their ability to develop scalable web applications. 

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Pros of Using Ruby

  • It is easy to find Ruby tutorials online as it is a popular programming language. 
  • Ruby is easy to learn for beginners. 
  • It has a vast library to help you with complicated projects and complex tasks.  
  • As Ruby is open-source and free to use, anyone can learn how to code for free. 
  • Ruby has a simple and intuitive syntax, which makes it easier to learn than other languages.  
  • Coders who know Python or Java can grasp Ruby easily.  
  • Ruby’s comprehensive structure allows developers to write code in any format they want.  
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Cons of Using Ruby

  • Ruby is not as popular as JavaScript or Java, as per server-side programming languages market reports. Compared to Java and PHP, Ruby is not as efficient when it comes to parsing libraries and web application processing. 
  • Ruby is not always the first choice to build high-performance applications because of its delayed runtime. Ruby-based applications have slow boot speeds if the app process needs many method calls.  
  • Although Ruby is simple to use, beginners can find it difficult to learn, as it is a case-sensitive language.  
  • Compared to other popular programming language communities, Ruby has a relatively smaller community.  
  • Bugs get hidden in Ruby, which makes code fixing more difficult, as the documentation for Ruby isn’t as complete as it is for some other languages.  
  • Ruby often needs multiple code revisions and add-ons to tackle the high memory cost and performance impact of method calls.’ 
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Are Ruby and Ruby on Rails the Same Thing?

Ruby on Rails is a framework often confused with Ruby, the programming language. Rails is a full-stack framework that helps you build frontend and backend web apps. On the other hand, Ruby is a general-purpose programming language. Like Ruby, it is an open-source web framework that optimizes sustainable productivity. One of the popular reasons why Ruby is a popular programming language is Ruby on Rails, a framework written in Ruby. You can’t talk about Ruby without mentioning Rails, as the programming language gained popularity after Ruby on Rails was launched in 2004.  

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What is Ruby Used For?

What is Ruby Used For

Web Development 
With Ruby on Rails, Ruby has made it easier for developers to write code for developing web applications. Rails has everything a developer needs to build scalable apps. You can generate a boilerplate code, generate a proper file structure, or build a database model by running a simple command. Rails gives Ruby the kind of automation that allows coders to pay attention to the app’s logic. 

Static Site Generation 
Jekyll was the first static site generator created by GitHub’s founder and was used as the default way to publish content on GitHub. While a static site generator still uses code, it generates all the pages for a website at one time. A server then deploys those pages, and you are served a static HTML file when you visit a UR. Websites built with static site generators are easy to deploy, efficient, secure, and fast 

DevOps and Automation 
With DevOps, it is possible to automate software development, testing, and deployment processes. Ruby’s expressive and readable syntax helps create scripts that can easily take care of complex automation tasks like file handling (with tools like Chef and Puppet) and networking. Moreover, Ruby scripts can manage a range of infrastructure environments as they can run on multiple operating systems. It is possible to integrate Ruby with other tools and services such as Docker, Jenkins, and AWS.

Web Servers 
Passenger, Unicorn, and Puma are web servers written in Ruby. Raw incoming HTTP requests are processed by web servers before they are sent to correct backend web applications. Then, the web servers handle the HTTP response sent back from the application. Ruby web application servers work hand in hand with web development frameworks written in Ruby. 

Data Processing 
Ruby has built-in map, reduce, and select functions tools that help in filtering, cleaning, and processing data. For example, ADAlytics is a data processing tool created using Ruby and VueJS and is used to visualize complex data.  

Web Scraping and Crawling 
Ruby libraries like Vessel help with crawling and web page downloads. Nokogiri, an open-source software, is used to parse HTML and XML in Ruby. Ruby web scrapping can be used for brand monitoring, lead generation, market research, and competitor analysis.  

Game Development  
With Ruby, developers use a few lines of code to write a whole game. Gosu or Ruby2D are RubyGems that help create simple games compatible with Linux, macOS, and Windows. 

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Popular Tools Used by Rubyists

Developers can use the default editor of their operating system to code in Ruby. However, it is a good idea to choose a source code editor with basic Ruby support. Alternatively, you can use an integrated development environment that has advanced features. Here is a list of popular tools used by Ruby developers.  

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Windows Tools

Notepad++: It is a free source code editor with multi-language support.  

E-TextEditor: It is a tool that combines a text editor with syntax highlighting for a large library of languages and with Cygwin incorporation.  

Ruby In Steel: It is a Ruby development tool for Visual Studio with fast debugging, syntax-sensitive editing, and comprehensive development support for both Ruby and Rails.  

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MacOS Tools

Dash: It is an API Documentation Browser and Code Snippet Manager. 

BBEdit: It is a professional HTML and text editor for macOS.  

TextMate: It is a customizable text editor with support for a huge list of programming languages. 

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Linux and Cross-Platform Tools

Aptana Studio: Aptana Studio 3 is an open-source web development IDE used to build web applications.  

Emacs with Ruby mode: It is a free/libre text editor that is extensible and customizable. 

Rsense: It is a tool used for static analysis of Ruby source code in conjunction with an editor plugin. 

gedit: It is a general-purpose text editor that can be used to write notes for software development. 

Kate: It is a text editor that supports code highlighting for over 300 languages. It lets you edit and view many files simultaneously, both in tabs and split views. 

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The Final Word

With the array of features offered, it is no surprise that Ruby is a language with a growing community of developers. Ruby is among the top active programming languages used globally. It allows programmers to write clean, readable code that helps in building scalable web applications. With Ruby on Rails, it is possible to use Ruby web development, web servers, data processing, DevOps, and more. With Ruby, you can build your first application in just a few hours after learning to code in Ruby  If you are looking to hire seasoned Ruby developers then sign up with Olibr today! 


Ruby runs on UNIX, DOS, Windows 95/98/NT/2000, Mac OSX, BeOS, Amiga, Acorn Risc OS, and OS/2.

The need to write less code makes Ruby a top choice for use in the backend of software applications.

It is unfair to compare two programming languages as each language has its benefits. However, a C# code compiles faster than a Ruby code.

In terms of readability, the syntax of Python is easier to learn and understand.

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