It’s amazing to think that in 1995, Brendan Eich developed this interpreted, high-level, multiparadigm scripting and programming language in just 10 days, and it would go on to become the industry standard client-side language.
And Matsumoto did just that with Ruby, a high-level, general-purpose, multiparadigm programming language. It has all the makings of a fun, easy language with interpreted and dynamic properties, and is widely known as a server-side language.
But which one should you learn first?
Both languages have a lot to offer, but when it comes to choosing which one to learn first, there are a few things to look at. We’ll start by examining which is best suited for beginners and offers the best salary, then analyze performance, different applications, and which one is best for you.
You have beginner languages that are great for newcomers because they offer uncomplicated learning curves, but then you also have languages that are good for beginners because they provide the much-needed skills to help you secure your first job.
And luckily, we have representations of each.
Ruby is a great beginner’s language because it’s easy to learn. Like I stated earlier, it was created to be fun and breed productivity. Matsumoto made the user the priority by designing a language that was attuned to the needs of the programmer.
This means an easy syntax that looks like English, a derived coding style that inherently teaches new coders good programming habits, and overall simplicity. Ruby also contains accompanying frameworks that focus on providing reusable code, further simplifying the language for the programmer.
This is an incredibly nurturing environment to learn coding in that you won’t find in many other languages.
Both languages are cross-platform compatible, boast large communities, and are popular in web development, however, it’s worth noting JS is the world’s most used language by developers regardless of the field they work in. So, even if you don’t learn it first, you’ll likely have to learn it at some point.
When it comes to salary, both languages fare well.
There are also other things to consider about developers aside from the salary they earn.
Plus, more often than not, if someone in the real world is looking to compare the performance of these two languages, this is the aspect they’ll be looking at. As seen in the popular benchmark games test, that already has a Node.js vs Ruby comparison. And as we can see from the results, Node.js beat Ruby every time.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, Ruby has a garbage collector. Now, garbage collectors are fantastic tools for memory management, and one of the many features that make Ruby such an easy language. However, garbage collectors are notorious for adding drag to performance time.
And lastly, Ruby consumes a lot of RAM. Its whole focus on not re-writing code and modular styled architecture creates memory bloat, or an increase in memory usage, which damages performance time.
This isn’t to say Ruby itself has awful performance. Compared to other server-side languages like Python, it compares fairly well.
Web development is an intriguing field, not only because it’s constantly involving, but right now there’s a large focus on user experience and finding that next level of making your internet experience feel tailored to you.
There are two ways this is done, through frontend development, or client-side development, and backend development, or server-side development.
Ruby serves as a backend language. With the Ruby on Rails (Rails) framework in tow, it’s devised a Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. Model is where data is kept and processed, View shows the user the interface and displays data, and Controller is where requests from View and Model responses are handled.
It also has a garbage collector which makes server-side memory management a breeze. This works by determining which objects aren’t needed, since everything in Ruby is an object. You also have the Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle laden throughout Ruby’s coding process.
It’s easy to group web and mobile application development with web development, but in reality, they’re very different concepts.
Web development deals with websites, which are globally accessible interlinked web pages under a domain name. Web applications, on the other hand, are software and programs that you access using a web browser, and mobile applications are software and programs for specific platforms, i.e. iOS or Android.
Using the Rails framework, Ruby builds dynamic web applications and runs automated testing with built-in features. It also has pre-written scripts called generators that you use to begin new projects. Like with web development, Ruby continues to use the same MVC scaffold to manage data, interfaces, and model-view communications.
For mobile apps, Ruby has RubyMotion, which builds cross-platform applications, however, it lost a lot of support once React Native was released.
You can also build JS mobile apps with HTML, CSS, and PhoneGap. In this case, PhoneGap is the bridge between the mobile device and the web application codes. And then there’s Ionic, which allows for cross-platform mobile app development.
Now that you’re familiar with the languages, which one should you learn first?
If your main objective is to pick up an easy, fun language and work in backend development, then Ruby is a great choice. Ruby helps build good programming habits, and is truly a language built for beginners and laying down a solid foundation for you to learn more languages later on.
In the end, you have to choose the language that suits your needs best, and luckily both languages promise well-paid career opportunities as well as innovative work.
For taking action:
For beginners: we recommend our Learn Python for all brand-new coders looking to learn computer science. It’s the first course in our curriculum and starts right from the beginning as you interactively code your first basic project – a video game.