Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers’ Guide

ISBN: 0974514055
ISBN 13: 9780974514055
By: Dave Thomas Chad Fowler Andy Hunt

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About this book

Ruby is an increasingly popular, fully object-oriented dynamic programming language, hailed by many practitioners as the finest and most useful language available today. When Ruby first burst onto the scene in the Western world, the Pragmatic Programmers were there with the definitive reference manual, "Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmer's Guide." Now in its second edition, author Dave Thomas has expanded the famous Pickaxe book with over 200 pages of new content, covering all the improved language features of Ruby 1.8 and standard library modules. The Pickaxe contains four major sections: An acclaimed tutorial on using Ruby. The definitive reference to the language. Complete documentation on all built-in classes, modules, and methods Complete descriptions of all 98 standard libraries. If you enjoyed the First Edition, you'll appreciate the expanded content, including enhanced coverage of installation, packaging, documenting Ruby source code, threading and synchronization, and enhancing Ruby's capabilities using C-language extensions. Programming for the World Wide Web is easy in Ruby, with new chapters on XML/RPC, SOAP, distributed Ruby, templating systems, and other web services. There's even a new chapter on unit testing. This is the definitive reference manual for Ruby, including a description of all the standard library modules, a complete reference to all built-in classes and modules (including more than 250 significant changes since the First Edition). Coverage of other features has grown tremendously, including details on how to harness the sophisticated capabilities of irb, so you can dynamically examine and experiment with your running code. "Ruby is a wonderfully powerful and useful language, and whenever I'm working with it this book is at my side" --Martin Fowler, Chief Scientist, ThoughtWorks

Reader's Thoughts

Joe Martin

"Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers' Guide, Second Edition by Dave Thomas (2004)"

Lee Winder

I shouldn't claim to have read this as it's constantly open on my desk because it's such a valuable resource for any Ruby programmer.

Erik Mallinson

It's the definitive guide to Ruby, affectionately called PickAxe. You basically have to read it.Now that I have I've realized that it's a great resource for things but the first part of the book where Ruby is described in a tutorial style was totally useless to me. The examples were a bit boring and the stabs at humor should have really been left unstabbed. All in all it was a perfect example of cookie-cutter programming books.However - I would HIGHLY recommend the pdf version to those learning Ruby. The ability to search the book is totally remarkable and a life saver. I've also "printed to pdf" the books long reference section so I can just search within it instead of aforementioned beginning section.


This is a pretty awful book. The author has at best a tenuous grasp on object oriented programming. Pick up The Ruby Way instead.

Ms. Jen

Ok, so I have been teaching myself Ruby since last fall and I am in love with it. Javascript: too wordy, too many f*%king loops and punctuation, mostly front end, can be used for some programming.PHP: too many functions, hard to find the one you want, less wordy and loopy than javascript. Back end web programming.Ruby: Beautiful. Elegant. Simple. Bless it. Very little punctuation, loops only where you need them and a not an overload of built in functions/methods. Back end, needs a compiler. Still beautiful.But Ruby on Rails can be a bit troublesome, opinionated, and locked into the framework. Don't get me started on deployment. Makes PHP look downright friendly.Good book to get you started by experts in Rails.

Shawn Moore

With this book you can learn Ruby in a breeze. Whether that's more the fault of this book or of Ruby I haven't figured out.

Manuel Menezes de Sequeira

If you are an experienced programmer wanting to learn Ruby, this book is for you. A word of warning, though: go take a look at Chapter 27, Metaprogramming. That's the place where the object model of Ruby is explained. Without it, the rest of the book will seem to rely a bit too much on your faith. Unless, of course, you enjoy discovering the truth behind the magic for yourself. I'm sure it is possible and fun, but if you cannot spend the extra time, do take a peek at that chapter.Another warning: the book (or at least it's ebook version) has quite a few typos, especially in Part 4.


Actually I'm reading a downloaded PDF of the third edition that covers Ruby 1.9. This is my first exposure to this language; I like it. I'm happy to say goodbye to PHP (fuck that language, it is made of garbage).Um...right, about the book: I like it, seems pretty clear and goes through the language using several different strategies. Seems to function well as both a beginner's guide, in depth tutorial, and reference: a rare feat. Even the Perl "camel book" (3rd edition in particular) doesn't really nail that, although it tries.

Amar Pai

I've never made it through one of these books. I always end up reading random snippets on the web instead. It's fine though, half of it is just library documentation anyway. (as is always the case).I just need to figure out how to make irb give me decent documentation... cheat? ri? rdoc? how can this not be built in?!


Overall, it was a pretty good read. I starts by covering the language, getting you exposed to the fundamentals and how to actually write Ruby. The second half covers an overview of the standard libraries, letting you know what already exists so you don't have to reinvent the wheel.I think it did a good job of teaching me the language and how to use Ruby. If anything, the book was a little short of more extensive examples, but really it's not a big deal. You can start writing your own examples with what you learn from the book and you'll learn more for it.

Piotr Zurek

It is the "go to" Ruby book for a reason. If you want to learn Ruby (why wouldn't you?) you pretty much HAVE to read it. A number for things that I didn't quite understand earlier, have just "clicked" when reading this book. I definitely feel like knowledge I got from it was worth the time spend reading this book.If you're a complete complete Ruby novice (like me) you will want to read straight through the first 3 parts. Part 4 is a dry Ruby Library Reference, so you may want to leave that out until you need something specific from it.If you know a bit about Ruby and programming in general you may simply refer to specific chapters for help in understanding specific topics. The chapter on metaprogramming is a doozy. :-)


This is the book I learned Ruby from, once upon a time, and while it has its detractors I still think it's a good tutorial (especially if you know some other programming language, like Java). Probably not a good choice if you've never done any programming.


I heard a lot of great things about this book, but at the time it didn't matter because it was basically the only book you could get on Ruby.but i wasn't that impressed with the book itself. it works fine as a reference book and an introduction to the language, but it's no better or worse than the equivalent o'reilly book for any other language

Virgilio Pigliucci

Not bad considering the topic it can be read and mostly used very easily.I would never consider this book as "completely-read".... guess It will spend many months close to my desk!


This enormous book covers most of what you want to know about Ruby, and everything you never wanted to know. Its overview of the language is decent but seems poorly organized. It jumps back-and-forth between basic and advanced. Beginners would feel lost, while more advanced programmers have to skip around carefully. But if you don't skip around too much, you'll find nuggets that explain things much better than any other Ruby book. It also covers tangential subjects that you won't find in most Ruby books--RDoc, RSpec, Shoulda, IRB, and writing C extensions. The best part of this book is the reference manual at the end. It's more thorough and organized than any other Ruby book I've seen.

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