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The Ruby Programming Language 1st Edition

80 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596516178
ISBN-10: 0596516177
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Editorial Reviews

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

Yukihiro Matsumoto ("Matz"), the creator of Ruby, is a professional programmer who worked for the Japanese open source company, 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (February 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596516177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596516178
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

136 of 142 people found the following review helpful By Peter Cooper on February 26, 2008
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 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.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Dan McKinnon VINE VOICE on March 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
'The Ruby Programming Language' is one of 'those' O'Reilly books that become staples in the family of GREAT texts that have come before. At 400+ pages, the following content is discussed:

01. Intro
02. Structure of Ruby Programs
03. Datatypes & Objects
04. Expressions & Operators
05. Statements & Control Structures
06. Methods, Procs, Lambdas, Closures
07. Classes & Modules
08. Reflection & Metaprogramming
09. Ruby Platform
10. Ruby Environment

Logically laid out, wonderful writing, clear and concise examples with a length that is 'just right' (this is so hard to not find bloated books) this is perfect for those that know some Ruby and/or programming in general. If you are new to software development, this book probably is NOT for you as it's not a "learning" text. There are other Ruby books that cover said topic though so make sure to pick those up as well.

Awesome job O'Reilly for this relatively new and fast growing language that is used on the web and wherever you want!!

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Clinton Begin on October 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is quite simply one of the finest software development books ever written. The style, the length, the scope, and the structure are all absolutely perfect. The balance creates a reading experience that seemingly opens a channel to your brain and feeds the information in.

Flanagan is a master author of technical books, especially languages. His JavaScript book is equally well done. Matsumoto's unique technical mastery here leaves no stone unturned. And even the artwork by "why the lucky stiff" added a fun element that just rounded out the book as the best in its class.

If I could forget the whole thing, just so I could read it again, I would. It is that good.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Fabio Utzig on October 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading the other reviews here. All the people I know personally who work with Ruby learned from the Pickaxe but from the reviews I came to the conclusion that this could be actually a better book for learning the language. So, I didn't read the Pickaxe and cannot really make a comparison but from what I heard and comparing with this one I would get the Pickaxe if I should choose again.

After finishing reading this book I can say that there are a lot of topics that I really don't remember anymore and lots of doubts that I still have. The major flaw here is that there are no exercises anywhere in the book. All the best programming books I read in the past have very good exercises to evaluate what you've learned (I could give as examples Learning Perl, C++ Programming Language, Core Java, etc). I think that without exercising what you learned it's really hard to judge how much you have really learned.

Another thing which is not described in the book is how to organize a big project. I'm used to working in large projects in C and C++ and I really have no idea of how to organize a large project in Ruby, how to organize classes in files, etc. I will start studying Rails now, and will get the Rails code and read it to make sense of how to organize a large project but be aware that this is not described here.

Also some sections of the book, are really "dry", like the one who talks about functional programming which is really hard to follow (this one is the first that came to my mind but there are a lot of sections which are hard to follow or don't make a lot of sense when reading first time). These sections are clearly targeted at advanced Ruby programmers.

I'll rate this book with 4 stars because despite the flaws I mentioned, the explanation of the language in general is really good.
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The Ruby Programming Language
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