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Beginning Ruby #3

Peter Jones reviews his copy of 'Beginning Ruby' by Peter Cooper, published by Apress

Beginning Ruby, From Novice to Professional is classified by Apress as being appropriate for users of beginning to intermediate level. The Apress roadmap for readers suggests starting with this book or "Beginning Ruby on Rails", and then moving onto "Rails Solutions: Ruby on Rails Made Easy" and "Beginning Ruby on Rails E-Commerce". Finally there is "Practical Ruby Gems" and "Pro Ruby on Rails". So it can be seen this particular book is a starting point which can progress to a number of books, and that there is a strong link to Ruby on Rails.

However, this book is about Beginning Ruby. It is written with an easy style and truly feels as if it is aimed at beginners. As explained in the book, Ruby is considered to be an easy language to learn, although it can also be easy to get overwhelmed with the administration of Ruby itself, its installation, and its upgrades. As the language is developing quickly it is quite possible for a book such as this to get out of date quickly, so readers are given a useful background to Ruby in Chapter 5 - The Ruby Ecosystem, as well as being pointed towards resources in Appendix C. It is suggested that the Ruby Community can provide information on an ongoing basis so links are provided to do this.

In terms of learning Ruby itself the book does encourage readers to experiment and play with actual code rather than relying on reading alone. I think this is an important point. I managed to do this up to Chapter 5, but when reading Chapter 6 I found it much more difficult to code along at the same time as reading due to the style of this chapter. Since Chapter 6 - Classes, Objects, and Modules, goes through some of the main Ruby concepts I'm not sure how well the information has stuck in my mind.

Overall the pace can be quite quick as there is a lot to cover again making it advisable to try to code along at the same time. There are a couple of example projects (a "Text Analyser" which was very informative and a "Dungeon Text Adventure with Objects" in Chapter 6). It should be noted that there is code available in the Source Code/Download area at http://www.apress.com.

I was a little disappointed with the Ruby on Rails: Ruby’s Killer App chapter as it seemed to gloss over a lot of areas, and in some places was based on Rails 1.1.6 although at the time of reading I am sure Rails 1.2 has been out for a few months. That said, this is a book about Ruby, not Ruby on Rails, and there are plenty of Rails books available for those who are interested.

So, in summary, I think this is a good book for beginners to start learning Ruby although I think it is more likely to get you from novice to an intermediate level, rather than the professional level indicated by the title.

Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me by Apress on condition that I reviewed it.