Ruby: or, how Wayne saved me from PHP

So after reading my previous post about Learning To Be A Web Programmer, Wayne called me up on the phone to talk about where I might start. As you all know, he’s sort of a big deal and a super smart technical ninja, so I was happy to work out some ideas with him. The conversation went something like this:

  • Wayne: Where were you thinking of starting?
  • Me: Well, I was thinking maybe PHP and mySQL.
  • Wayne: eww. Don’t do that.
  • Uncomfortable pause
  • Me: Is there a better way?
  • Wayne: Yeah man, haven’t you heard of Ruby on Rails?
  • Me: That’s like PHP, only Ruby right?
  • Wayne: Dude, it is so much more…

He kind of left it mysterious like that, but with my interest sufficiently piqued I went out and did a little research today.

I was familiar with Ruby as a scripting language from many years ago, back when the big thing was that Ruby leaks memory like a boat made out of swiss cheese. I mean, not from personal experience or anything, it’s just the kind of thing you hear when you work with a bunch of geeky programmers all day. Word on the grapevine was this Ruby thing was a neat new scripting language with nice syntax, had some problems, but also had a lot of potential.

Well, if that wasn’t an understatement.

Coming back to it now apparently it’s a completely different ball game. Ruby is all grown up and powering a bunch of my favorite websites. Well that’s great, but what the hell is it, really? Is it as I thought, just ruby running on a server, interpreting http requests, generating HTML, and serving it up?

Whenever I try and answer that question, I get a lot of people copy pasting the paragraph out of ruby on rail’s website stating that it’s a “a web application development framework” which means all of nothing to me. So I guess I need to start actually using the damn thing.

In my next installment, I’ll begin digging a little deeper with Ruby on Rails, starting with installing and configuring a local copy of Ruby and Rails on my machine, and creating my first Rails application (maybe?). Oh and bonus points if I can actually figure out what the hell it is.

See you next time,
-Howard

One thought on “Ruby: or, how Wayne saved me from PHP

  1. Howard – you will not regret it. IMHO ruby and rails is a fantastic place to start web development. It really comes down to relying on other smart folks to make the hard backend choices for you, until you have enough experince to look at those choices and decide if you want to re-jigger them or not.

    Good luck with your new journey!

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