53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
I've tried the online version of the Pickaxe book to start learning the process and found that it makes too many assumptions about programming skill for me. Not so Beginning Ruby. It is well written and assumes little programming background, not zero background but little. Perfect.
Peter Cooper has managed to introduce topics in a logical and non-intimidating manner. Explanations are clear. The writing is conversational but neither wordy or pandering. After working through about a third of the book I am feeling positive about gaining a practical working knowledge of Ruby. I don't think it actually will bring me to a truly professional level. That will take years of practice and study.
The first half or so of the book covers Ruby at the command line and text file levels. The focus of the second half moves towards using Ruby on the web. Ruby on Rails gets a more than cursory section and using Ruby without Rails in CGI is covered too, as is working with HTTP and other internet but not directly web content programming topics.
Absent is coverage of any kind of GUI programming for Ruby. That's okay because making regular installed programs not my interest. Though with OS X now offering Ruby integration with its programming environment I may eventually want to learn more.
But no one book can cover everything. If you are comfortable with hand editing code or using the command line then you should find Beginning Ruby a friendly text, part tutorial, part reference and at the introductory to intermediate levels excellent. I can't speak for the pros. Look for their reviews.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is an excellent book for anyone getting started with Ruby, or who has been using Rails for a little while and feels they need stronger Ruby skills (which, I suspect, describes a great number of Rails programmers, myself included).
Despite its title, this is not just a beginner's book. It does start at the beginning, and it is written without assuming a lot of background, but it is not a simplified, dumbed-down treatment. I found it to be very easy to read, and it follows a natural progression from language basics through a variety of advanced topics.
The author is a very experienced Ruby programmer, and his insights shine throughout the book. (Among many other things, he's the creator of Feed Digest, Ruby Inside, and code snippets, which he sold to DZone.
In addition to an exposition of the language that builds nicely over the course of the book, there's chapters on the Ruby ecosystem, how to design an application, and network programming. There's also a chapter that covers many of the useful libraries and gems.
There is one chapter that summarizes Rails, but this is definitely a Ruby book, not a Rails book.
Any Ruby book will inevitably be compared to Dave Thomas' Programming Ruby (commonly known as "the Pickaxe" for the image on its cover), which has been the standard reference for the language since its debut and won't lose its spot as a reference work. I found Beginning Ruby to be easier to absorb, however, and I thought the examples were especially clear and useful. If you're already deep into Ruby, you probably don't need this book. But if you're relatively early in the learning curve, I highly recommend it.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2007
When I was learning Ruby what I really wanted was a well-structured book that began with the assumption that I already knew how to program and then guided me quickly through the special features of Ruby. At the time such a book did not exist. Now, with the publication of Peter Cooper's "Beginning Ruby", it does.
The book is well written, nicely laid out, the explanations are clear and the code examples are useful. In short, if you already have some programming experience and want an accessible introduction to the world of Ruby, this is the book to get.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2007
I have been a professional programmer for nearly twenty years and I have learned and used many programming languages along the way. My normal process for learning a new language is to do a lot of online research regarding the books that are available and buy several of the books that are consistently praised my most folks.
Ruby posed some difficulties in this area because, until recently, there have not been very many Ruby books available in English. I purchased several books, and while I will not say that any of them were bad, I will say that until I got my hands on "Beginning Ruby", I was not making very good progress in learning the language.
All of the other Ruby books that I have tried to use for learning followed that same very tired pattern. The first several chapters of the book cover various aspects of the language in-depth. There would be a chapter about variables, a chapter about flow control, a chapter about classes and objects, etc. Each chapter covers the subject in detail. That's fine for a language reference, but not a very effecting way to teach someone a new programming language.
Mr. Cooper's approach is one that I would like to see other authors of programming tutorials adopt. After the obligatory chapters on getting Ruby installed on your system, and giving a "whistle-stop" overview of the language, he begins to cover surprising number of topics in the third chapter. Rather than cover each facet of the language in-depth, he covers many, many facets of the language, even some more advanced concepts like symbols and blocks, but only superficially. The result is that by the time you hit chapter four, you are ready to start writing a "real" application that uses many of the features you were just introduced to.
The book has a nice, conversational style. When a topic is introduced, the author reassures the reader that it will be covered in more depth later in the book. There are also several points where the author stops the reader and says something like "don't read on until this makes sense."
This book belongs in the hands of anyone and everyone who is serious about learning the Ruby programming language.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2007
This is a wonderful book. I snapped up the eBook version from Apress the day it was released. With Ruby, you will eventually own a copy of the 'pickaxe' book. The pickaxe is to Ruby as K&R is to C and as the Camel book is to Perl. Indispensible and important, but not appropriate for the amateur or absolute beginner.
P.Cooper's book is here for you with good examples and a nice flow from basics to more challenging things, he doesn't leave you scratching your head.
This book does assume some prior programming knowledge or experience, but not a lot. If you are an absolute beginner with ZERO knowledge of programming, head for the book by Chris Pine...
If you're curious about Ruby or Rails, this may be the place to start.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2007
I have zero programming experience (unless you count html) and I have attempted to get into programming before, but most books frustrated me. This book is very thorough and it gives you clear explanations for everything. It could be that Ruby is easier to learn than other languages (that's what I've been told), but if you are truly a novice you will be able to get through this book pretty easily and you will have a good foundation of the language.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I'm one of the guys who bought the Kindle version, yet every single example in the book is cut off on the left side. The examples themselves are in image form, and each and every one is slightly castrated, making following these examples extremely difficult. I don't know who to blame, but surely there has to be a solution here.
Aside from that, this is a fantastic book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2007
I think Beginning Ruby: From Novice to Professional is a better first Ruby book than the venerable Pickaxe (a.k.a. Programing Ruby). The previous statement is almost heresy in the Ruby community. Don't get me wrong, you should own the Pickaxe. It's a great book and certainly lives up to it's description as "the definitive reference to Ruby". That said, it's very big, and is much more of a reference than an introduction.
Beginning Ruby is an excellent (and I would argue more approachable) introduction to the Ruby language, written by one of it's more notable users. Weighing in at over 600 pages, this is a comprehensive book. At the same time, it's quite a bit smaller than the Pickaxe, which makes it much more portable (there's also a PDF version available for $10 if you've purchased the dead-tree edition, for the ultimate in portability).
This book covers everything you need to know to be productive in Ruby. It covers the built in functionality of Ruby well, in addition to covering a lot of the libraries that you will need to do more advanced things. Peter's writing style is concise, but not dry. As a result, the book is very readable.
In summary, if you want to learn Ruby, this is the book to buy.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A new addition to the "Beginning..." series of books from Apress this one follows the highly successful layout of the other books. It starts with how to install Ruby on various operating systems including Windows, OS X, and Linux. Then the reader gets a good introduction to the basics of Ruby including writing your first few lines of programing. For those who need it the author takes the time to introduces the reader to the concepts of class and object as they related to the object oriented programming environment. From there the reader moves into the basics of programming with Ruby, including variables working with integers, characters and strings interpolation working with an array flow control and regular expressions.
The book then walks the reader through building a text analyzer program. Of course you to know more to create more complex programs and the author delivers a more advanced discussion of classes objects and modules. And no program is complete without documentation, built in error handling and testing. The author goes over these and other items in detail. Finally, in Chapter 12, you develop a much larger Ruby application by writing a bot program. The book ends with a discussion of Ruby on rails.
The book contains several excellent appendices and is filled with code examples. Beginning Ruby is highly recommend to anybody interested in this programming language and provides sufficient information to write basic programs without any difficulty.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2007
This is an excellent. I started out reading another book, "Programming Ruby" also known as the Pickaxe Book. Although the Pickaxe book is an excellent reference guide, it covers too much for a beginner programmer to comprehend.
The Pickaxe book regularly uses examples of code that have not been defined, confusing the reader. Not so with "Beginning Ruby". The Author, Peter Cooper, writes in a very condensed and chronological manner. Simple concepts are explained and then built upon. It's as if Peter Cooper cuts the steak up into small pieces so it all goes down. With the Pickaxe book, the author is trying to swallow the steak down in one huge gulp.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone that wants to learn Ruby. I would also recommend purchasing the Pickaxe book to be used as a reference guide to all the features available in Ruby.