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Learning Ruby [Paperback]

Michael James Fitzgerald
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 21, 2007 0596529864 978-0596529864 1

You don't have to know everything about a car to drive one, and you don't need to know everything about Ruby to start programming with it. Written for both experienced and new programmers alike, Learning Ruby is a just-get-in-and-drive book -- a hands-on tutorial that offers lots of Ruby programs and lets you know how and why they work, just enough to get you rolling down the road.

Interest in Ruby stems from the popularity of Rails, the web development framework that's attracting new devotees and refugees from Java and PHP. But there are plenty of other uses for this versatile language. The best way to learn is to just try the code! You'll find examples on nearly every page of this book that you can imitate and hack. Briefly, this book:

  • Outlines many of the most important features of Ruby
  • Demonstrates how to use conditionals, and how to manipulate strings in Ruby. Includes a section on regular expressions
  • Describes how to use operators, basic math, functions from the Math module, rational numbers, etc.
  • Talks you through Ruby arrays, and demonstrates hashes in detail
  • Explains how to process files with Ruby
  • Discusses Ruby classes and modules (mixins) in detail, including a brief introduction to object-oriented programming (OOP)
  • Introduces processing XML, the Tk toolkit, RubyGems, reflection, RDoc, embedded Ruby, metaprogramming, exception handling, and other topics
  • Acquaints you with some of the essentials of Rails, and includes a short Rails tutorial.
Each chapter concludes with a set of review questions, and appendices provide you with a glossary of terms related to Ruby programming, plus reference material from the book in one convenient location. If you want to take Ruby out for a drive, Learning Ruby holds the keys.

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

The Language that Powers Rails

About the Author

Michael Fitzgerald describes Ruby as "my favorite language so far" and is working regularly with Ruby and the Rails framework. He has written over 150 Ruby programs for testing and demonstration, and has been developing a library of sample Ruby code. He is the author of Learning XSLT and XML Hacks, and co-author on the XML Pocket Reference.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (May 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596529864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596529864
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael James Fitzgerald is the author and coauthor of over 20 books which have appeared in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Japanese, and Chinese. He is also a blogger and has written numerous articles. Mike loves to ski and to train horses. He is the owner and principal of Overdue Books LLC.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Learning Nothing August 28, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I read a computer book titled "Learning (Something)" and I don't learn anything, I have to ask myself: is the fault in the book, or in myself? This time, I believe, it's the book.

O'Reilly has an excellent reputation as a publisher of technical books. The table of contents suggests a carefully organized survey of language features, but the actual discussion is flighty and shallow. The author is clearly a Ruby enthusiast. It seems as if he wanted to mention everything, but didn't have time to EXPLAIN anything. In short order, he shows us eval, methods, blocks, and procs, but in the sample code, they all just print "Hello, Matz!" There is no discussion of when or why one technique might be preferable to another.

The book is full of sample code that illustrates syntax without even slightly illuminating the reasoning behind it. To illustrate logical AND:

if a == 10 && b == 27 && c == 43 && d == -14
print sum = a + b + c + d

Later the same tests are shown separated with "||" for logical OR. Beginning programmers might wonder, "Why in the world would I want to do THAT?" Better sample code would use scenarios where the specified actions make obvious logical sense. Experienced programmers won't have trouble with AND and OR, but the same unhelpful style of sample code illustrates unique Ruby features and more complex topics, too. (Maybe it's not a problem if you already know all this stuff.)

Each chapter ends with several review questions. Here are a couple from the first chapter: "What is the nickname of the inventor of Ruby?" and "Who wrote the pickaxe book?" To be fair, in later chapters some of the answers might be the name of an object method or a math constant. But all the questions test the reader's ability to repeat something from the chapter, never his real understanding.

Oh, maybe I'm too harsh, saying I didn't learn ANYTHING from this book. The nickname of the inventor of Ruby? Matz.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book on the basics of Ruby June 1, 2007
This is a good book for someone who is planning to teach a beginners class in Ruby to others or has never seen Ruby before at all and wants to learn it themself from scratch. It does a good job on the basics, has plenty of examples, and even has review questions at the end of each chapter with answers at the back of the book. As far as learning anything past the basics of the language, including Rails and some of the more interesting things that can be done with Ruby, there are two short chapters that cover this information but do not go enough into the details. Once you read this book I suggest "Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers' Guide". That book goes into more detail as to what can be done with Ruby, but it also assumes you are not a beginner, which you won't be once you read this book. The table of contents is as follows:

1. Ruby Basics

Hello, Matz; Interactive Ruby; Resources; Installing Ruby; Permission Denied; Associating File Types on Windows; Review Questions;

2. A Quick Tour of Ruby

Ruby Is Object-Oriented; Ruby's Reserved Words; Comments; Variables; Strings; Numbers and Operators; Conditional

Statements; Arrays and Hashes; Methods; Blocks; Symbols; Exception Handling; Ruby Documentation; Review Questions;

3. Conditional Love

The if Statement; The case Statement; The while Loop; The loop Method; The for loop; Execution Before or After a Program; Review Questions;

4. Strings

Creating Strings; Concatenating Strings; Accessing Strings; Comparing Strings; Manipulating Strings; Case Conversion; Managing Whitespace, etc; Incrementing Strings; Converting Strings; Regular Expressions; 1.9 and Beyond ;Review Questions;

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview May 16, 2008
This is a great introduction to Ruby. It covers the basics without swamping the fledgling programmer in too much complexity. That's not what newcomers need. They aren't worried about the nooks and crannies of the array class; they're wondering what the heck an array is, and what makes it different from a hash. In that respect, this book strikes a nice balance.

Having read (and bought) most of the O'Reilly books on Ruby, Perl, and Python, I can honestly say that this book ranks high at the top of them--not because it is the definitive work on Ruby (it isn't and isn't supposed to be), but because it covers the core essentials in a way that you can read in an afternoon. For that reason, it is an excellent choice for a first timer in Ruby and/or programming to see why Ruby is a great language worth learning, without having to get a computer science degree first, and without having to hire a Sherpa to help them lug their book around while they read it (I'll refrain from pointing fingers at other books here).

I think that's one thing many of the reviewers missed about this book. "Learning Ruby" is designed for the newcomer who wants to get jump started in Ruby, not for the experienced programming who is just looking for a nutshell summary.

I would also like to add that at one point, I had a question about what was included with the one-click installation system and emailed the author, who very quickly investigated the problem and emailed me back with an answer. You have to admit: that's pretty impressive.

Now, there are areas of the book that should probably be expanded on for the next edition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good basic, great foundational knowledge builder
My first into the foray of Ruby, a pre-cursor for me before going into Ruby on Rails. I have always wanted to read about something that has been talked about by quite a large cult... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Doron Katz
2.0 out of 5 stars There are better books to start with if you're already comfortable in...
I've been programming in perl for the past 15 years, but recently my job requires me to also program in ruby. I thought this book would be a nice overview. It is. Read more
Published on June 18, 2012 by Zapata Falls, Colorado
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good beginner's text on Ruby
I have a long history with programming languages, going back to 1971, but almost all my coding experience has been with the old procedural paradigm. Read more
Published on May 30, 2012 by Michael J. Edelman
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is boring
If you are looking for a beginners book, do not buy this one. It does not teach you any reasoning. It's not even close to the quality of Learning Perl. Read more
Published on February 8, 2012 by E. Yigit
3.0 out of 5 stars good for begginers
This is a good book, it teaches all the basics that there need to be about ruby. one thing I didn't like, although the author cautions about this in the beggining of the book, is... Read more
Published on November 1, 2009 by Carlos Sanchez
4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction
This was my very first introduction in Ruby. After Having seen a friend build a Rails website in a few minutes I was impressed and wanted to know about Ruby. Read more
Published on May 28, 2009 by waveninja
5.0 out of 5 stars Good For Beginners
Learning Ruby is a great book for experts and novices that are looking to learn Ruby. It effectively addresses the needs of people who are learning Ruby as their first programming... Read more
Published on February 3, 2009 by Andrei Mouravski
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book for what it was done for!
I don't understand why some people complain about this book's simplicity. That's exactly what the book was done for and that's exactly what to author states in the first lines. Read more
Published on March 2, 2008 by NIO
2.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete (rushing), lots of errors, no feedback from the author
This isn't the book that "does one thing but does it extremely good". If the author wants to cut corner (due to the depth of Ruby as a language), he should cut some features not... Read more
Published on December 30, 2007 by E. Nathaniel
4.0 out of 5 stars Learning Ruby but Ruby Newbies Move with Caution
As a book entitled "Learning Ruby", this is a draw for new programmers looking to pick up ruby and the book's smallish size (compared to other ruby works on the market) adds to... Read more
Published on December 29, 2007 by Thomas Pierce
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