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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2008
Originally planned as a second edition to Ruby classic, Ruby In A Nutshell, The Ruby Programming Language is a new book by David Flanagan and Yukihiro Matsumoto (a.k.a. Matz - creator of Ruby) and published by O'Reilly. The book covers both Ruby 1.8 and 1.9 and with its esteemed authors and technical approach, is sure to become a new "Bible" for Ruby developers.

As of the start of 2008 this book is REALLY fresh and up to date. Its style is very direct and matter-of-fact; well suited for existing Ruby developers and proficient developers coming from other languages. The examples are clear and logical and the explanations concise; this is a well edited and authoritative book.

The structure of the book is a delight with ten well-defined chapters (with titles such as Reflection and Metaprogramming, Statements and Control Structures, and Expressions and Operators) that each contain a tree of sections. Consider Chapter 4, Expressions and Operators. A sample dive down to section takes us through 4.5, Assignments; 4.5.5, Parallel Assignment; and finally to, One lvalue, multiple rvalues. This is a breath of fresh air in a Ruby reference work.

The only downside, in terms of the thousands who might be browsing Amazon looking for a single Ruby book to start off with, is that this book is so well focused on documenting the core elements of the Ruby language, it doesn't work either as a tutorial / beginner's introduction to Ruby, or as an exhaustive reference work (as, on both fronts, the Pickaxe attempts to be.) This lack of dilution may be an ultimate strength, however, since anyone above the station of "beginner" will be able to learn Ruby thoroughly from this book, use it as a general reference, and then be able to use the exhaustive documentation that comes with Ruby itself to cover the standard library and built-in classes.

In conclusion, whether you're an existing developer or a newcomer to Ruby, you need just three things to be up and running with Ruby in the book / documentation department. Forget the Pickaxe and its mediocrity, and buy this, the Ruby Way (by Hal Fulton), and learn how to use the documentation that comes with Ruby.

This book will act as your "Bible" for the Ruby language, the Ruby Way will make you an expert, and learning how to use the documentation that comes with Ruby will mean you're not using information that's out of date within a couple of years. The perfect combo! It'll last you for years.
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on 9 July 2009
I chose this book as my first ruby book and my introduction to the Ruby language. And for me that worked out really well. I would not recommend this book as an "introduction to programming" kind of book but as an introduction to ruby for people who have been programming for a time and used several other languages, it's great and it's kind of a language reference but better written than most language references I've come across earlier. It's blend of a language reference and how-to-write-ruby and a really great blend at that.

It's seldom to come by a book where there is so much information packed into so few pages (relatively), and it should maybe be read more slowly than other programming books. Especially the last few chapters are incredibly dense. And as far as I can tell, it covers just about anything there is to know about ruby and there is code examples in abundance. The diff between ruby 1.8 and ruby 1.9 is pulled of quite nicely as well although the book would be even clearer if it had just covered one version. All in all a great book.
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on 13 October 2010
Ruby is a fascinating language. One minute it is as light and simple as a bicycle; the next, it morphs into the Starship Enterprise. It also lets you do all sorts of things that not so long ago would get you arrested - introduce variables undeclared, assign any type to any other type, gayly declare methods with apparently no class, re-open classes etc. It's all part of Ruby's rich tapestry.

However whilst all this might look simple, somewhere there has to be complexity. Every page reveals the detailed rules and a lot of them are not intuitive. You get to see how it all fits together - a creation, rather than a machine. You also get the designer's view on what is good, and what should best be left alone.

So it's a pleasure to read and re-read but also invaluable for interpreting things in code you come across.

It's essential for people new to Ruby (what are the scope rules for code brought in via require or mixins?). It's equally essential for seasoned programmers (what are the features that are commonly used by other experts versus those that are rarely needed?)

You would have to be pretty clever to start writing Ruby applications just reading this book, but that's not what it's for. It's for answering all those little fundemental questions you're not quite sure about.
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on 10 January 2013
The delivery was swift. The book covers about ruby that an intermediate level needs. I would recommend all of you to buy it if you are looking forward to learn ruby. Although, you need some programming skills.
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on 7 January 2016
It is undeniable that Matsumoto is a genius. David Flanagan is a very good author. What we have in the book explains the Ruby language beautifully. This book is a masterpiece. I think it will live long in history. DMR
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on 31 July 2011
I would agree with the reviewers above, but I found one significant omission. There is nothing in this book on CGI programming. Surely this is an important application for Ruby programmers. Perhaps the authors think that this is entirely the province of Ruby on Rails (which I have not investigated).
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on 8 March 2013
A waste of money really. Only really covers the basics. if you can already program this is a pretty pointless book and not a massively useful reference. stick with the api documentation on line.

If, however, ruby is your first language then you'll probably find this very useful. Although there are better books for learning ruby from scratch I would say this is a good book for learning to program with ruby as your learning language.
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on 14 October 2014
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on 19 May 2013
This book itself is excellent, but page formatting of code on Kindle is a mess.
This does not happen on Kindle app on iPad.
It's so ridiculous, Amazon!
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on 19 October 2008
This book is more than a book. It will be one of THE books that will change the face of human development and subsequent history. I have rarely esteemed a book so highly as this one. This book is as significant as the complete works of Shakespeare, Beethoven, or Einstein. Matz seems to be an expert in educational theory and also linguistics of the English language. The reader experiences a circular learning curve. Within 70 per cent of the book the reader experiences a 3-fold revelatory cycle into the insight and the eventual beauty of the genius of the mind which is Matz. The subject matter is explained in levels. If you think you know it read it again. Every time you read it you see something new. It is like a painting by Rembrandt. You will never leave this book. David Flannagan is also a very accomplished author.
In computer science there are no short cuts. Without a masters understanding of the grammar and structure of communication which is code, the user will waste many weeks and months getting nowhere quite randomly. This book will change the way that you look at the Ruby language forever, and you will never achieve this from any other book, because this is an unbeatable book. If you have no interest in being a developer or end user of any ruby code, this book is not necessary to develop the "hello world" project.
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