In the field of programming, both beginners and professionals looking for a career transition often face the question of “Which programming language will work out best for me?”.
Choosing a programming language is not an easy task, thanks to the large number of options available. However, once you discover your career goals and the projects you want to work on, the decision becomes easy. Although fluency in multiple languages is valued (and preferred in many organizations), you must first decide which programming language you want to break the deadlock.
Today’s discussion revolves around these two programming languages that have long been loved by developers and programmers around the world: Python and Ruby.
In this article, we will introduce in detail Python and Ruby, their main features, similarities, and differences. Hope this helps you decide which language is right for you!
What is Ruby?
Ruby is an interpreted, general, open-source object-oriented programming language. Yukihiro Matsumoto designed it in 1995. Ruby is a 100% object-oriented language, so everything is an object in it. In addition, OOP provides a clear modular structure for developer projects.
Ruby is designed to be fun to use. When Matsumoto created the language, he emphasized that he wanted Ruby to be easy to use and fun. He puts more emphasis on the “human” aspect of programming rather than the “computer” point of view.
Ruby has dynamic writing, automatic memory management, garbage collection, and more. This is a language that is very conducive to innovation. Therefore, even if you have many default features to choose from, Ruby accepts most of the new implementations and updates. In addition, Ruby has many useful web frameworks, with Ruby on Rails topping the list.
The core objective of Ruby:
To pay more attention to the human aspect of programming, the design of the language must meet people’s needs.
Follow the principle of least surprise: When you see the new face of Ruby, you should not be surprised or confused.
What is Python?
Python is also a high-level, general-purpose, cross-platform OOP language, just like Ruby. It was developed by Guido Van Rossum in 1989. The feature that makes Python beginner-friendly is its simple syntax that is easy to learn, easy to read, and easy to write. This is how Python accelerates development without compromising reliability or scalability.
Although Python is the same general programming language as Ruby which focuses on human factors in programming, Python focuses more on readability. Python has a clear and simple syntax (almost just like English). This is mainly why Python has become the best choice for beginners.
Python is a very versatile and flexible programming language that can meet many different needs and is used in:
Ruby and Python have many similarities:
- Both are all-script, server-side, cross-platform, general-purpose programming languages.
- Both are available under open-source licenses: OSI-approved (Ruby) license and FSF-approved (Python) license. So you don’t have to pay license fees to use them or distribute the software you build using them.
- Both are high-level scripting languages.
- Both languages are dynamically typed. This means you don’t have to declare the variable yourself.
- Both languages are available through Lambda functions in Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Python values simplicity rather than complexity (this has been noted under Python’s core philosophy). Therefore, in Python, you only have one way to perform or handle specific tasks. Although this reduces the flexibility of Python code, it is this aspect that makes the code more readable to others.
In terms of flexibility, Ruby takes the Perl approach, which means that there is more than one way to do something. This is what makes Ruby more flexible because you can always use many different methods for specific tasks. However, this can also be a source of controversy and confusion among programmers who read or want to use code written in Ruby by other developers.
If the programming language has reusable and readily available code, this will help a lot. As for Python, you will find a lot of ready-to-use code or “modules” that can be easily accessed through PyPI-it contains more than 150,000 modules! Although Ruby also has almost the same amount of out-of-the-box code called Gems, the difference between reusable Ruby and Python code is the filtering factor: Python’s PyPI allows developers to filter by categories such as development status. This is easier than manually comparing many libraries and evaluating their code.
In addition, in terms of packaging and automatic dependency resolution, both Ruby and Python allow seamless installation of dependencies in any environment. However, Python has the upper hand again here: its virtualenv allows developers to isolate different versions of the Python interpreter. Although Ruby has similar features as rbenv or rvm, they are much more complicated than Python.
The Fame in the real world
Both Ruby and Python are supported by lots of active and dedicated communities. Additionally, both languages have a wide range of high-quality documents and learning materials, which are available online. However, Python has a more inclusive community than Ruby. This is mainly because Python has found applications in many different use cases, from academia to data science – Python is everywhere.
In Python, you will find a number of groups and forums to help you solve any problem or challenge.
As we all know, Python is undoubtedly the simplest and most beginner-friendly language. Python’s simple and clear syntax makes it easy to learn, read, and understand. Therefore, most beginners always choose Python when they start their coding journey.
However, Ruby does not have the simplest learning curve. For beginners, Ruby can be a bit challenging because the language usually takes a long time to adapt. With built-in Ruby on Rails features (such as Scaffolding and Active Record), you can also speed up project development in Ruby.
After evaluating all the similarities and differences between Ruby and Python, the message is clear: Python is a better choice between the two unless related projects require unique Ruby knowledge. Note that you can use Python to do anything you can do with Ruby. However, you can’t do it the other way around. Python is a go-to language used for statistics, mathematics, machine learning, and even data analysis. Therefore, you can start using Python, and once you master it, you can continue to use Ruby.
Although there are endless debates between the two language fields, it is impossible to tell whether one language is “better” than the other in general. Each one has some more suitable fields due to their functions and the support of other users in the same field. For Ruby, it is web application development through the Rails framework, and for Python, it is scientific and academic programming. And each has some characteristics or capabilities, while the other does not have them or does not do well.