How to Learn Ruby

Ruby, which was released publicly in 1995, has become one of the most popular programming languages in the world. A lot of this traction can be attributed to the growth of Ruby on Rails, a web development framework built upon Ruby that is used by companies and developers around the world.

How does one go about learning Ruby? That’s a good question. In this guide, we will discuss what you need to learn as a beginner, how Ruby will impact your employability, and what resources you can use to learn this language.

What is Ruby?

Developed by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, Ruby is a general-purpose programming language. The language was designed to combine functional and imperative programming principles in a way that is easy for developers to understand. Although Ruby has a simple syntax, it is very powerful and has become one of today’s most popular programming languages.

The Ruby language was inspired by languages like Perl and Python, with which Matsumoto was not satisfied. For instance, Matsumoto did not think Python was a “true object-oriented language.” He wanted to build something that was truly object-oriented.

Jobs that Require Ruby Skills

Ruby is a general-purpose programming language which means you can do a lot with it. Today, Ruby is used for software engineering, systems scripting, and, notably, web development. The Ruby on Rails framework, which extends Ruby to make web development simple, has made Ruby an incredibly popular language for web development.

Some jobs that may require Ruby include:

  • Full stack web developer
  • Backend web developer
  • Software developer
  • System administrator

These positions can all make use of Ruby to some extent. However, not all jobs under these titles will require Ruby. For instance, as a full stack web developer, you may need to know Python instead of Ruby. With that in mind, because Ruby is so popular, you should have no trouble finding companies that need skilled Ruby developers.

What Companies Use Ruby?

Ruby is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. It is used not only by hobbyist developers but also by a plethora of professionals. Due in large part to the popularity of Ruby on Rails, many big technology companies use Ruby. Here are a few companies that use Ruby as part of their technology stack:

  • Stripe
  • Vox Media
  • Twitch
  • Airbnb
  • GitHub
  • Shopify

These are only a few of the many companies that use Ruby on their teams in some way; there are many others.

Salary for Ruby Developers

Rather than being called “Ruby developers”, it is more common to refer to these professionals according to the field in which they deploy this tool. As such, common job titles include “full stack web developer” or “backend web developer.” The average salaries for people working in these two fields are $105,813 and $101,619, respectively. This shows that if you become proficient in Ruby, you will be able to unlock impressive salaries.

What Skills Do I Need to Master Ruby

You do not need any prior programming experience to learn Ruby. In fact, Ruby is considered quite a friendly language for people new to coding because the syntax is easy to understand. However, a basic knowledge of programming or computer science will go a long way in helping you understand the basics of Ruby.

Having a capacity for analytical thinking is helpful. This is because programming is all about thinking of ways to solve problems and implementing solutions. This process requires a lot of analytical thinking. Fortunately, you can always build your analytical thinking skills as you learn; there is no better way to improve your logical and analytical thinking skills for programming than to practice coding.

Where to Learn Ruby

So, you have decided to learn Ruby. The next question on your mind may be: where can I go to learn Ruby? We have conducted some research and found a few online courses that are suitable for beginners:

Ruby Programming Language – Full Course

  • Author: freeCodeCamp
  • Price: Free
  • Type of resource: Video

This video is a comprehensive introduction to Ruby. It lasts over four hours; in that time you will develop a working understanding of a range of Ruby principles, from working with arrays to using if statements and writing data to files.

You are not expected to finish the video in just one sitting; this course is designed to allow you to start and stop at any time. The description contains a handy guide so you can skip to the topics that interest you.

Intro to Ruby Online

  • Author: Flatiron School
  • Price: Free
  • Type of resource: Course

This course, which lasts over 30 hours, introduces you to the basics of Ruby. You will learn about topics like command line applications, logic, methods, and using objects. As you progress, you will work on a two-player game of tic-tac-toe to practice the skills you have learned in class.

Learn to Code with Ruby

  • Author: Boris Paskhaver
  • Price: $19.99
  • Type of resource: Course

This course features 31.5 hours of video content on the Ruby programming language. Throughout its 21 sections, you will go from writing a basic Ruby program to working with conditionals, ranges, arrays, strings, and more.

This course is a great way to go from knowing little about Ruby to feeling comfortable writing your own programs. Toward the end of the course, you will cover more advanced topics like modules, classes, and reading and writing documentation, all of which will set you in good stead as you advance in your learning journey.

Learn Ruby in Y Minutes

  • Author: Learn X in Y Minutes
  • Price: Free
  • Type of resource: Programming guide

Learn Ruby in Y Minutes is a web page with a series of Ruby code snippets. Each code snippet comes with an explanation of how it works. The web page is designed to be as simple as possible and does not get in the way of your learning with verbose explanations.

At the start of the tutorial, you will learn about comments and objects. You will then learn how to do math, use operators, and more. With this web page, you will get to know about string interpolation, variables, and arrays, among other concepts.

You can easily dip in and out of this guide at any time, going back to it whenever you get stuck coding or when you feel ready to learn something new.

Learn Ruby

  • Author: Codecademy
  • Price: Free
  • Type of resource: Course

This course is suitable for beginners to Ruby who have little or no experience with the language. You will start by learning about variables, basic data types, and working with the console. Slowly, you will work your way through more advanced topics like conditionals and object-oriented programming. At the end of this course, you will be challenged with a capstone project to practice the skills you have learned.

A Guide to Learning Ruby

What topics should beginners to Ruby learn about first? This is the first question you will need to answer. To help you start learning Ruby, we have compiled a list of some key topics beginners need to know.

  • Syntax: No matter what programming language you learn, you need to start with the syntax. What is Ruby? What does a line of Ruby code look like? What principles influenced the design of Ruby? These are the sorts of questions you need to answer before you go any further.
  • Data Types and Variables: You should learn about the basic data types supported in Ruby and how to assign values to a variable.
  • Conditionals and For Loops: Once you know how to use the basic data types and variables, you should research how to use if statements and for loops to control the logic of your programs and reduce repetitive code, respectively.
  • Arrays: Arrays store multiple values in one list. You should learn how to create and modify arrays. You will also need to know how to retrieve items from arrays.
  • Functions: You should learn how to group code into functions that you can reference throughout your programs.
  • Object-Oriented Development: Ruby was designed with object-oriented programming in mind. You should learn the basics of object-oriented programming, the principles upon which this programming paradigm is based, and how to implement objects in your code.

These are a few of the topics that you need to know about to start working with Ruby. However, these topics are only high-level. You need to research the topics above and learn how to apply them. You should not only know what all the above concepts mean but also be able to use them confidently in your programs.

Other topics you may want to research at the start of your Ruby learning journey include:

  • Destructuring
  • Blocks
  • Hashes
  • Lambda
  • Symbols

Knowledge of all the above concepts will position you well to start writing your own Ruby programs.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Ruby?

You can start writing your first Ruby programs within half an hour of learning the language. To build a good understanding of the basics, you should spend at least two to three weeks studying, assuming you work at least an hour each day. However, if what you want is to land a job in tech, you will probably need to spend about three months studying and refining your knowledge of this language.

Should I Learn Ruby?

Do you see yourself building the logic (backend) behind websites? Or do you see yourself writing systems scripts? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then maybe learning Ruby is something you should consider.

Ruby is a vastly popular programming language and you will not have any trouble finding people who know and use the language. With its simple syntax, Ruby has a good learning curve. Even though the language is simple, Ruby is known for being powerful.

Do some research and give Ruby a try. If you like the syntax and think that you could work in a job that uses Ruby, then maybe you should learn it. Finally, keep in mind that Ruby is also a great tool to build your own personal projects.

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