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The Book of Ruby: A Hands-On Guide for the Adventurous Paperback – July 16, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1593272944 ISBN-10: 1593272944 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (July 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593272944
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593272944
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Conventional wisdom has suggested that the so-called 'Pick-Axe Book' (Programming Ruby by Dave Thomas) is so good that there is no room for other options. I prefer Collingbourne's book. The Book of Ruby is a clear, easy read ... with the end result of having good working knowledge of Ruby." (Andrew Binstock, Dr Dobb's Journal)

About the Author

Huw Collingbourne is the Director of Technology for SapphireSteel Software, developer of the Ruby In Steel IDE. With 30 years of programming experience, he has written programming columns for numerous magazines, presented features on computing for BBC Television, and currently edits the online technical journal Bitwise Magazine. He has previously released two free ebooks on Ruby—The Little Book of Ruby and The Book of Ruby.

More About the Author

Huw Collingbourne is a writer and software developer. He has also, at various times, been a magazine editor, TV presenter and horticulturist (he ran an exotic plant nursery). He has an MA in English and a 2nd dan black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido - the latter skill useful when attempting to control his huge, hairy and amazingly strong Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. He teaches Aikido in North Devon, UK.

In the 1980s he was a pop music journalist and he interviewed many of the 'New Romantic' stars such as Boy George, Adam Ant, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Depeche Mode. In the 1990s he published the 'adult humour' magazine, 18 Rated, which was immediately banned by all leading UK newsagents (who obviously failed to see the joke).

He is now writing a series of 'New Romantic Murder Mysteries' which brings to life the dazzling music and clubbing scene of London in the early '80s. 'Killers In Mascara' is the first novel in this series and is to be followed by 'The Glam Assassin'.

Customer Reviews

The book self is well written and reads very easily, but the `reference manual' style makes it somewhat boring.
M. Overeem
This is very much a personal preference but I find that sort of introduction annoying as I don't feel it adds much to the book.
John Graham-Cumming
Devoted Rubyists may disagree, and the author does egg them on a bit, but their criticisms don't strike me as valid.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 49 people found the following review helpful By James Britt on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've been reading this book trying to find what's good about it, and the best thing I might say is that, after reading it, you will probably be able to write a Ruby program that runs. But, given all the other "intro to Ruby" books out there, I can find no good reason for this book to exist.

It fails in a number of ways. First, right off, the author says that Ruby allows much latitude in code style. You can, if you like, use method names such as myCamelCase method or myhardtoreadmethod or my_snake_case_method. This is true. But the author fails to explain that while the Ruby interpreter may not care, the vast majority of experienced Ruby developers most certainly will, and learning to follow some basic community coding conventions will go a long way in helping you work with other Rubyists, even just get some coding help as you learn.

Second, even if we ignore that, the author for whatever reasons seems to make a point of avoiding *any* coding style. Class and method name follow no apparent reasoning; parenthesis are included or omitted at random (even after the author says he prefers them for clarity). Following this book your Ruby code will look, at best, ugly, and almost certainly amateurish.

There are also assorted annoying technical inaccuracies and omissions. For example, the book says that attribute getters and setters are like properties in other languages. Well, no; languages that make a point of having properties (e.g. Java) do not allow you to override them; unlike in Ruby, properties are not methods. It's an example of an important aspect of Ruby that should be grasped early on, not glossed over.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Tavares on September 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Disclaimer: No Starch Press provided me a free copy for review.

Ruby is a programming language that I always liked. When "No Starch Press" offered me the opportunity to review "The Book of Ruby" I was curious because the two previous books I've read from them were simply excellent. I already have four books on Ruby so I was wondering how this one could compare to those but most important, if it would follow the same "fun style" as Land of Lisp and Learn You a Haskell. After reading the book, unfortunately, my feelings are mixed.

The book is well-written, with a good structure, covering beginner topics to advanced ones. It contains 20 chapters (without the introduction) and 4 appendixes. The initial chapters focus on the basics of the Ruby language. The later ones focus on more advanced parts of Ruby and more specific topics, for example, debugging and Ruby on Rails. This is a positive aspect of the book since for someone starting with Ruby can have in a single source access to several important topics. The chapters also have a "Digging Deeper" section at the end, presenting interesting discussions of the topic at hand. Also a nice read was the last chapter since it deals with the dynamic aspects of the language (use of eval, etc).

However, the book has some issues. The most important one is about the coding style, or the lack of it. The book is not consistent, does not follow Ruby conventions and it shows quite easily. I believe this is bad for a novice programmer in the language since it makes examples harder to understand, not to mention other things. Second, the book does not have the same "fun style" as the other No Starch Press books.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Graham-Cumming on July 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
Overall, I'm giving this book a 4 star review hoping that programmers who are beginning to try out Ruby will give this book a go. I think as a beginning programmer the initial chapters are clear and well written and will give a beginner a good foundation on Ruby itself. Personally, I didn't really go for the writing style: it's a bit too friendly. For example, chapter 6 begins "Computer programs, like life itself, are full of difficult decisions waiting to be made" followed by an "if, then, else" example about daily life. This is very much a personal preference but I find that sort of introduction annoying as I don't feel it adds much to the book.

I was not so happy with the later portions of the book which cover more in depth Ruby topics (such as blocks, closures, regexps, etc.). These chapters are where the 'mixed bag' comes in. For example, I thought the chapter on debugging and testing was way too short or should have been omitted altogether. The subject of unit testing is very important and deserved its own, completer chapter. And I don't agree with the characterization of unit testing as "a postdebugging testing technique". Part of the joy of unit testing is all the bugs that are shaken out along the way.

Chapter 10 covers blocks, lambdas and closures with lots of examples. This is good, but I was surprised that the initial section on closures consisted of one example (and not a very exciting one at that) and two paragraphs. It's left to a sort of sidebar to actually get into the use of closures.

Also, in the section on exceptions I found the first example of raise to be odd. It contains the following:

rescue Exception => e
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