Ruby Web Development

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,