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Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts

Great Programming Language, Great Book

  • February 6, 2009
  • By Carla Schroder

"Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts", by Steve Pugh, is a wicked cool book for noob-and-up Ruby users. Ruby is a modern, elegant interpreted programming language. This means you don't need to compile your Ruby programs, but simply write and run them, just like you do with Bash, Python, or Perl scripts.

This book is not for the complete Ruby novice, so beginners will want to start with some of the many excellent Ruby tutorials or books; Squidoo.com has a good selection to choose from. You don't need to be a pro, but you should have a good grasp of Ruby basics to be able to follow and run the scripts in the book.

Ruby is a great choice for a first programming language.

What is Ruby?

The inventor of Ruby, Yukihiro Matsumoto, wanted to create a programming language that was fun and enhanced programmer productivity:

"...computer engineers, focus on the machines. They think, "By doing this, the machine will run faster. By doing this, the machine will run more effectively. By doing this, the machine will something something something." They are focusing on machines. But in fact we need to focus on humans, on how humans care about doing programming or operating the application of the machines. We are the masters. They are the slaves."

With Ruby you can write simple scripts for simple tasks, or large complex programs. It works well either as a procedural or object-oriented language, has great garbage collection, and excellent error-handling. Its like it tries to take care of the boring, error-prone housekeeping so you can be free to design your code.

Ruby really is fun. My own knowledge of it is rather rudimentary, and I can hack up simple scripts pretty easily. In "Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts" Mr. Pugh uses simple but functional example scripts, and then dissects them in detail so that the reader understands exactly what each part of the script does. It's a great approach that makes it easy to modify and customize the example scripts, and as you work your way through the book you'll acquire the knowledge you need to write your own scripts from scratch.

The examples in the book are simplified for print, so there are downloadable examples that are longer, and some have extra commentary. The scripts are task-oriented and range from tasks like user management, process management, Website scripting, photo and image editing and management, financial calculator, games, text parsing utilities, image and link scraping, fun with algorithms, and even a do-it-yourself Metasploit utility. I tried a lot of the scripts, and had the most fun with the photo gallery script and the Sudoku Solver. I give "Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts" a big thumbs-up.

Carla Schroder is the author of the Linux Cookbook and the Linux Networking Cookbook (O'Reilly Media), the upcoming "Building a Digital Sound Studio with Audacity" (NoStarch Press), a lifelong book lover, and the managing editor of LinuxPlanet and Linux Today.

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