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The Ruby Programming Language Paperback – 4 Feb 2008

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About the Author

David Flanagan is a computer programmer who spends most of his time writing about JavaScript and Java. His books with O'Reilly include JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, JavaScript Pocket Reference, Java in a Nutshell, Java Examples in a Nutshell, and Java Foundation Classes in a Nutshell. David has a degree in computer science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives with his wife and children in the U.S. Pacific Northwest bewteen the cities of Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. David has a blog at www.davidflanagan.com.

Yukihiro Matsumoto ("Matz"), the creator of Ruby, is a professional programmer who worked for the Japanese open source company, netlab.jp. Matz is also known as one of the open source evangelists in Japan. He's released several open source products, including cmail, the emacs-based mail user agent, written entirely in emacs lisp. Ruby is his first piece of software that has become known outside of Japan.


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Format: Paperback
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 4.5.5.2 takes us through 4.5, Assignments; 4.5.5, Parallel Assignment; and finally to 4.5.5.2, 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.
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Format: Paperback
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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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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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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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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