Learning to code in Ruby can help you become a web developer, software engineer, or data analyst. Over the years, Ruby, a general-purpose programming language, has remained an in-demand skill, as more and more applications are built using the technology. This guide explores the best way to learn Ruby online.
Basecamp, Airbnb, GitHub, Hulu, and Kickstarter are a few of the thousands of large-scale websites built using the Ruby on Rails framework, which is based on Ruby. Keep reading to learn about the various resources that can help you learn Ruby programming.
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What Is Ruby?
Ruby, created by Yukihiro Matsumoto, is a programming language with a wide range of potential applications. The creator of Ruby built the language by combining his favorite parts of other languages. This resulted in a balanced technology that uses both functional and imperative programming principles to provide a good developer experience.
The language is known for its simplicity, which makes it a great language for beginners to learn. But, even though the language is simple to use, it is still a very powerful technology with its own complexities.
Ruby is a popular programming language among developers, in part because it is free to use. In fact, on the TIOBE index, which measures the popularity of programming languages, Ruby is currently ranked 20th.
Why Should You Learn Ruby?
You should learn Ruby because it is easy for beginners to grasp, it can be the first step in mastering Ruby on Rails, and you’ll have no shortage of resources to help you get started. Let’s look at each of these reasons in more detail.
Good Option for Beginners
If you have very limited experience with coding, a language like Ruby is a good place to start because its syntax is similar in many ways to the English language. Ruby was designed with simplicity in mind, so it’s easier to master the basics.
Even once you move on to more complicated applications, you’ll still find that Ruby is a very flexible language that is more accepting of errors. It has few hard rules on how to build features because it is dynamically typed.
Ruby on Rails
Once you master Ruby, you can move on to the Ruby on Rails framework. Frameworks come with additional tools and ready-made components to speed up development and provide programmers with more structure.
Even though Ruby isn’t leading the pack of the most popular programming languages, it still has a sizable active community of developers. According to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey, 53 percent of respondents said that they loved Ruby.
Ruby has been popular for over two decades, and Rails has had contributions from thousands of developers. This means there are vast resources available to help new programmers pick up the language. You can find online tutorials, books, courses, and guides created by experts to help you on your way.
What Is Ruby Used for?
Ruby is primarily used in web development, though it can be used for other purposes like web scraping, automation, and data processing. It is an object oriented programming language that is known to prioritize the experience of the developer.
Ruby on Rails was developed using Ruby. The Rails framework allows developers to create a full stack web application quickly and easily. Its ease of use is one of the reasons it is so popular among tech startups with limited resources.
Is Ruby Hard to Learn?
No, Ruby is not hard to learn. Ruby was developed to have a simple and straightforward syntax, similar to the English language. This makes it much more accessible to complete beginners. Many programmers are able to learn Ruby independently with the help of online resources.
How to Learn Ruby: Step-by-Step
We’ve discussed a few of the many reasons why you should learn Ruby. However, there’s still one big question that we need to address: How do you learn to code in Ruby? To answer this question, we’re going to break down a few top tips to help you get started on your journey.
Step 1: Learn the Basics
Even though Ruby is one of the easiest programming languages to learn, you’ll still need to dedicate enough time to the fundamentals. If you skip Ruby basics and jump straight to complex topics, you won’t have the foundation you need to properly troubleshoot and deal with errors.
As you learn Ruby basics, focus your attention on topics like syntax, control flow, and loops. Next, go on to explore other facets of the Ruby language, such as hashes and object oriented programming.
Step 2: Build a Project
Once you’ve started learning how to code in Ruby, you’ll be ready to start taking on your own projects. Ruby projects are a great way to put your new skills to the test so you can identify what areas need more work. Choose a project that will challenge you and grow your enthusiasm for learning.
Even if your project is simple, try to choose a topic that aligns with your interests. Perhaps you could build a trivia app or an online bird-watching log. Here are a few beginner Ruby project ideas if you need additional inspiration:
- A simple web application or forum
- A Twitter or Reddit bot that shares a random fact about your favorite TV show every day
- A Slack bot that allows you to interact with Twitter using Slack
- A web scraper that collects information on your favorite movies from IMDB
- A Ruby version of poker
Step 3: Join Ruby Communities
As you learn to code in Ruby, it’s a good idea to build relationships with other developers. If you are just starting out, you could even join a Ruby community designed for beginners. Online communities can be a great place to brainstorm project ideas, get your questions answered, and find motivation if you are struggling with a difficult concept.
Here are a few of the Ruby communities you may want to consider joining:
- StackOverflow: StackOverflow is a community for developers of all backgrounds. On StackOverflow, you can ask pretty much any question related to Ruby or other programming languages. You’ll most likely always receive an answer.
- GitHub: GitHub is a platform that allows you to share your code with others and collaborate on projects together. On GitHub, you’ll find a number of open source projects to which you can contribute, which can help you increase your reputation as you refine your skills.
- freeCodeCamp: freeCodeCamp is a website that provides support to people looking to learn how to code. They have a wide developer community that is perfect for beginners to join.
Step 4: Seek Feedback
One of the most common mistakes newbie developers make is to build in a vacuum. That is to say that, instead of seeking support from others, they learn how to code by themselves. They let issues trouble them without seeking feedback. If you want to become an expert Ruby developer, a crucial part of your journey will be to seek feedback from other people.
Once you’ve built a portfolio project, send it to other developers you know and ask for their feedback. If you are stuck in a tutorial, go to a community like StackOverflow and see if experienced developers have any tips for you. Taking advantage of others’ experience is one of the best ways to improve your code.
Step 5: Practice Your Skills
Learning to code in Ruby, like any other programming language, is a skill. It’s a skill you can use for the rest of your life. It can provide you with a number of personal and professional development opportunities. And the best way to get better at a skill is to practice. How do you practice your Ruby skills? Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Build projects. Think of an idea, then build it out using your skills. There are a variety of skills to learn with Ruby, and different projects allow you to work on specific concepts.
- Commit to coding every day. When you start learning Ruby, you should try to commit to coding for a certain amount of time each day.
- Try coding challenges. Platforms like Exercism, Coderbyte, Codewars, and Rubymonk host coding challenges that you can use to level up your Ruby skills. If you’re looking to practice more often, you could set yourself a goal to complete a few of these challenges each day.
Ruby Programming Basics: Master Ruby Fundamentals
If you are completely new to programming, it may take you a bit of time to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts. It can be helpful to teach yourself the fundamentals to lessen the learning curve. Below, we provide detailed descriptions of some of the most important Ruby fundamentals for you to focus on as you begin your learning journey.
Syntax may seem like an intimidating word, but its definition is rather simple. Syntax refers to the rules that decide how you can use a programming language. Before you start writing advanced programs in Ruby, knowing the syntax for the language is a must.
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Here are a few of the topics you need to master:
- Using data types
- Using variables
- Printing data to the console
- Using the object structure
- Writing comments on your code
- Performing basic math in Ruby
- Working with strings and string methods
Conditional statements allow you to execute certain blocks of code depending on whether a condition is met. For instance, you could run a block of code if a user’s password is correct or if they haven’t inserted an email address.
Conditionals help programmers control the flow of their program and customize how their code should work in different scenarios. Here are a few of the main topics you’ll need to cover when mastering conditionals:
- If statements
- Else and elseif statements
- Unless statements
- Equals, less than, and greater than operators
- And, or, and not logical operators
Loops allow you to perform repetitive actions in your code. For instance, a loop could print out every item in a list to the console, or ask a user to insert a number into a program three times over. The main topics you should explore when it comes to loops are:
- While loops
- Until loops
- For loops
- Assignment operators
- The .each and .times iterators
Arrays and Hashes
An array is a type of data that allows you to store lists of information. For instance, an array could include a list of items on a menu, or a list of books sold at a bookstore. This data type comes up all over the Ruby language and is something you need to know about.
Hashes, on the other hand, allow you to store data using keys and values and are just as important in Ruby. Here are the main topics you should learn related to Ruby arrays and hashes:
- Creating an array
- Accessing an array by index value
- Creating two-dimensional arrays
- Iterating over arrays and multidimensional arrays
- Creating a hash
- Adding values to a hash and accessing a hash
- Iterating over a hash
Methods and Blocks
Methods are reusable parts of code that perform a specific function in your program. Blocks, on the other hand, are similar to methods and provide another way to group code together.
When you’re coding in Ruby, you should be able to use both methods and blocks. Here is a list of the main concepts you should master around methods and blocks:
- The purpose of a method
- How to define and call a method
- How to use arguments and parameters
- How to use return statements
- How to use code blocks
Object Oriented Programming
Ruby is an object oriented programming language. This means that programmers can use a structure, called classes, to define the structure of data in a program. They can also define the operations that can be performed using that data.
To master Ruby, you need a good understanding of the basics of object oriented programming, and how those ideas relate to the Ruby language. Here is a list of topics you should explore to help you along your learning journey:
- The basics of classes and objects
- How to create a class
- How to initialize an object
- Scopes in classes
- How to name different types of variables
- Inheritance and method overriding
- Multiple inheritance
Best Way to Learn Ruby Online
Because Ruby has been a popular language for so long, there are a wide variety of resources available if you want to build your skills. Depending on your learning style, you might want to try online courses, Ruby books, or online tutorials. Below we list some of the best options for any prospective coder looking to learn Ruby.
Online Ruby Courses
Learn Ruby | Codecademy
- Cost: Free
- Audience: Complete beginners
This Ruby course for beginners takes ten hours to complete and covers all the basic concepts you need to get started, including variables, loops, arrays, and object oriented programming. While the content is free, you will need to pay a fee if you want a certificate of completion.
Ruby: Fundamentals | Udemy
- Cost: $16.99
- Audience: Developers with some experience using languages like Java or C++
This course includes five hours of video content and five downloadable resources. You will also receive a certificate of completion. The content is designed for Ruby beginners, but students are still expected to have experience with other languages or Ruby on Rails. You will learn about variables and data structures, loops, and classes and methods after a quick introduction to Ruby.
The Complete Ruby on Rails Developer Course | Udemy
- Cost: $29.99
- Audience: Anyone hoping to become a web developer using Rails
This in-depth course includes 432 lectures and over 47 hours of course content. It aims to help complete beginners master the skills they need to create web applications using Ruby on Rails. After an introduction to the Ruby on Rails development environment, you will move on to sections such as Styling for your Rails Application and Associations and Authentication Systems.
Online Ruby Books
The Ruby Programming Knowledge: Everything You Need to Know
This book, by David Flanagan and Yukihiro Matsumoto, starts with a brief introduction to Ruby before moving on to complex topics like data types, lexical and syntactic structure, expressions, classes, and modules. The book is written for experienced programmers.
Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers’ Guide
This book is a well-known reference manual for all things Ruby. You can read the first edition for free online. The newest edition, updated to cover Ruby 2.0, contains a tutorial for beginners, a definitive reference section, complete documentation of the language’s classes, modules, and methods, and descriptions of all of Ruby’s standard libraries.
Eloquent Ruby, by Russ Olsen, aims to help programmers fully appreciate Ruby’s elegance and expressiveness. It starts by answering common tactical questions before moving on to complex topics related to building methods and classes.
Online Ruby Resources
Try Ruby is an interactive website that walks you through the very basics of Ruby. It gives step-by-step instructions to introduce you to concepts like strings, arrays, and tickets. It is a great resource for anyone without coding experience.
Ruby Discord Server
The Ruby Language Discord Server is an active server with over 7,000 members. This is a welcoming community for Ruby coders at any level of experience. It is a great place to ask programming questions, and once you start gaining new skills, you can pass on your knowledge to newer members.
Ruby Rogues is a weekly podcast that covers programming, the coding community, tech careers, and everything about Ruby. It is one of various podcasts that can keep you up-to-date on the latest Ruby news and updates.
Should You Learn Ruby Programming?
Yes, you should learn Ruby programming, especially if you want to become a Rails developer. There are many aspects of this language that make it a great choice for beginners, including its simple syntax. Because Ruby is used by so many companies, from Dribbble to Bloomberg, there is no shortage of resources out there.
If you want to learn Ruby, you can use interactive websites, Ruby bootcamps, online courses, or programming books written by experts in the field. Knowing how to code in Ruby can open up many career opportunities. It’s just a matter of getting started.
How to Learn Ruby FAQ
Yes, Ruby is easy to learn for newcomers to the tech field. It is a very forgiving language with a simple syntax that is very similar to the English language. There are also numerous free resources available to help you get started.
How can I learn Ruby for free?
You can learn Ruby for free using interactive websites or YouTube tutorials. There are also numerous online courses that are free if you elect not to earn a certificate of completion at the end of the program. You can also join Discord communities and listen to Ruby podcasts if you want to be up-to-date with the latest techniques.
Is Ruby worth learning?
How long does it take to learn Ruby?
It can take between two weeks and a few months to learn the basics of Ruby, depending on your level of experience and how long you study every day. It can take closer to a year before you are confidently building complex applications.
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