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Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  382 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
This is just a small Ruby book. It won’t crush you. It’s light as a feather (because I haven’t finished it yet—hehe). And there’s a reason this book will stay light: because Ruby is simple to learn.

[Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby is released under the Attribution-ShareAlike License. So, yes, please distribute it and print it and read it leisurely in your housecoat.]

website, 176 pages
Published 2007 by Attribution-ShareAlike License (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 795)
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Dec 12, 2011 Barry rated it did not like it
I don't know if I should mark this as read. I've gotten half way through the book and I've given up. It's just not my cup of tea. I'm not a Ruby beginner, so nothing to gain there. (I do hope no one has considered the examples to be good form. Some are very poor.) The "story" is completely impossible for me to follow. I've enjoyed my share of absurd, dark humor, but this one didn't work for me. I'm taking a risk because perhaps it all makes sense in the end.

Taking nothing away from Why. He is mu
Thomas Wolfe
Sep 01, 2011 Thomas Wolfe rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Thomas by: Ryan Grove
Shelves: programming, ruby
I decided to read this book based on Ryan Grove's (of and Joel Spolsky's (Joel on software) praise.

Lots of unique humor (that is usually completely off topic) and engaging cartoon characters made this one of the best programming books I've read thus far. Actually, I'd say it's one of the best books I've read thus far.

The ending was pretty depressing in my opinion. So as _why makes very clear from the beginning, he wants you to weep, but you may not only weep due to the beautifully cra
Gaelan D'costa
For perhaps the first time, computer science instruction and /literature/ fuse into one perfect specimen.

Whenever I feel down and out about my profession, I come back to this book to remember that there are people who may one day actually overcome this supposed split between the humanities and the technologies that modern society seems to function under. This is the first positive answer to the question of whether computer science can be adapted (without appropriation) into works of art.

Beyond t
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
Programming huh? And here I was, thinking someone had finally gotten around to writing my unauthorised biography. Sigh..
Jan 19, 2015 Rory rated it liked it
Not a great way to learn Ruby, but it deserves credit as the first (and, as far as I know, only) novel written about Ruby, and for its contribution to Ruby culture.
Feb 28, 2012 Ivan rated it really liked it
This guy is positively insane :) I suspect, Ruby-related stuff from the book could be fit on to a single A4 cheat sheet, while a number of story lines included made the thing bloat quite a bit.

I'm not sure if it could insensibly infect someone from non-IT folks with enough of dose Ruby, but anyway I found it really fascinating read.

This book is also a great example of common geekish English - I'll use stories from it as a reference themes for small talk in case I'll have too much attention from
Oct 31, 2015 David rated it liked it
Shelves: technical
Poignant Guide-inspired works like Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! imitate the wacky cartoons but mostly dispense with the random stream of whimsy storytelling. That could be a good or a bad thing, depending on who you ask. I'm undecided.

The whole thing is almost too quirky. Despite some strong elements, the whimsical stories get incoherent, and I think it would be a better book if _why had just toned down the frantic imagination a little and woven the stories more slowly: I can get behind
Jared Housh
Jul 28, 2008 Jared Housh rated it really liked it
This is a programming book... from outer space. Ruby for the criminally insane, as a friend put it. This is, without a doubt, the best programming book I've ever read (an admittedly low bar). The sidebars and illustrations alone make this book worth reading. On the flip side, I'm not sure I retained much about Ruby. I did, however, come away with Chunky Bacon, so all is not lost.
Mihai Damian
Jan 03, 2012 Mihai Damian rated it really liked it
This is definitely like no other programming book you've ever read; exactly as why promises in the book's introduction.

If you expect a clean introduction to Ruby then this is not the book for the job. why combines examples well suited for non-programmers with more advanced concepts that only someone who's ever written a few programs will understand or appreciate.
Daniel Bryan
Dec 25, 2012 Daniel Bryan rated it liked it
Finished this ages ago. I'm not sure that it succeeds in being as accessible to old children / very young adults as it sets out to be - and which is needed in order to justify its tone - but it's an impressive experiment, and as someone who usually prefers terse language I found it an awful lot more useful on a purely educational basis than many typical programming books.
Anderson Evans
Mar 30, 2014 Anderson Evans rated it it was amazing
I think this is an important book. I'm often more interested in _why's style and conception of work than I am by his content. Often I feel like the programs are vague, and the train-of-thought infused pseudo-storylines often lose me... that said, nobody else is writing programming books of this flavor. The graphic narrative, the prose narrative, and an exploration of an object oriented programming language sound like they could never be more than three distinct genres... but it turns out such an ...more
Dec 07, 2011 Joy rated it really liked it
a fun, quirky intro to ruby. not a lot of interactive exercises, but it gives you fun mnemonics to remember parts of the ruby language (we'll see how well they stick though). having studied programming before definitely helps you get through this one.
chris tierney
Feb 25, 2015 chris tierney rated it it was ok
Entertaining and provides some good mnemonics for ruby syntax. Unfortunately it goes downhill near the end as the details about ruby take a back seat to the weird story, and it remains (probably forever) unfinished.
Craig Vermeer
Aug 02, 2010 Craig Vermeer rated it liked it
Shelves: tech
A programming book written by a crazy person. Interesting.
Piotr Zurek
May 06, 2013 Piotr Zurek rated it it was amazing
Definitely worth the read, not necessarily to learn Ruby.
Apr 15, 2016 Enno rated it did not like it
I refuse to finish this awful book.
Anton Antonov
Nov 25, 2015 Anton Antonov rated it it was ok
Shelves: technical
Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby is a book that has been on my list for months. I've been going in and out the book trying to find inspiration to finish it but always coming short.
Today I finally gathered enough (insanity) to finish it. My opinion on the book hasn't changed.

While it's one of a kind, highly creative and maybe entertaining to some people, the book does a poor job at explaining anything.

I dare to say that the book isn't that accurate either. It lacks exercises,
has weird code examples a
John Lee
Aug 22, 2014 John Lee rated it liked it
It's hard to review this book, because it's really two books in one, one very good and one just sort of okay. This is purportedly a guide to Ruby, and while it does go through the language's basic constructs and features (including some light metaprogramming!), that's really kind of the ehhhh part of the book. The code examples are somewhat barebones, and while the mnemonic devices why provides are funny, they kind of fell flat for me at times. I think one could absolutely learn Ruby from this b ...more
Jan 23, 2016 Lee rated it really liked it
This is a very entertaining introduction to Ruby, and it covers many key concepts. I don't think it was quite comprehensive enough: when I was learning, I had to heavily really upon the API, blogs, and other web resources to make enough sense of the concepts to apply them, but when you know enough background to understand all of the concepts, the book has little value over entertainment.

That said, it's funny; it's lighthearted; and it approaches programming in a new way. The Ruby community is kn
Mar 26, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
I don't think there exists another programming book in the world that mixes comics, literature, and code examples into such a strange and interesting (and unfortunately unfinished) stew. Of course it's made even more interesting due to the author's "infosuicide" once his real identity was "outed" (he's always saying in the book he might burn out and blow his head off one day). Once it gets going and you see what the book is, the story line and comics slowly draw you in; I found myself really lik ...more
Apr 13, 2014 Jules rated it did not like it
Shelves: boo, reference, 2014
Not one for me I'm afraid. I knew about its odd sense of humour but this was extremely weird. Doesn't help a beginner like me as the examples given aren't great and it isn't structured enough for learning off of. That said, I think it would be quite an entertaining read for intermediate level Ruby programmers who already know about the concepts discussed.
May 23, 2016 Vishell rated it liked it
This book is a tricky one. If you are came to get knowledge in Ruby and you are only in the begining and you also have time { puts 'you at the right place' }, elsif anything is false from the previous condition then you'd better to find another book.
Daniel Nyström
Jan 03, 2012 Daniel Nyström rated it really liked it
A truly strange book about life, programming and everything between.

I found Why The Lucky Stiff when Smashing Magazine covered his disappearance but haven't come around to reading his Guide to Ruby until now.

It's a strange book, by a strange man, but if you're up for a challenge I recommend reading it. I found a mirror of it and read the whole work in about two weeks.

The book is a mix of a strange journey in space, richly illustrated and who will show you some basic fundamentals in Ruby.
Jagatheesan Jack
Mar 25, 2014 Jagatheesan Jack rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read on programming. It is simple to understand and amusing in it's own way. Worth every page. Wish every programming language had a book like this. A book that can convert you to a Rubyist.
Senthil Kumaran
Jul 26, 2012 Senthil Kumaran rated it really liked it
Poigant means that something is s so beautiful that tears shed from eyes. In
this case, the author says that Ruby code is so beautiful that tears will shed
from your eyes when you read it.

Yukihiro Matsumoto created Ruby in 1993 but I came to know about in the context
of a web development framework called Rails. This book, thankfully does not
teach you rails, but instead teaches you the Ruby Language, which in my opinion
is a greater aim to have.

Author cheerfully says that "Ruby" is the computer's lan
Jan 29, 2012 Esmeralda rated it it was amazing
I love my outlandish ketchup bottle. It likes to put on tuts and watch cabaret. Every night we write code while shouting "Chunky Bacon."

Programming, comic strips, and spirited asides abound in this primer. Without any previous computer language experience, this book did a great job getting me comfortable with some new symbols. The first chapters successfully had me reading code. The middle section of explaining patterns got a bit hazy. By the end of the book, toward the meta programming, I could
Mar 02, 2014 S rated it liked it
Shelves: fact
This is what happens when you feed the liner notes and the marginalia. Strange little world that's going on here. With a narrative of these two creatures guiding your hand on learning Ruby programming, it's offbeat and a little odd. The example lessons are neat, straight-forward and at a level that allows you to get a feel of the language and its idioms. At times it feels like we're witness to an existential drama, a brain that unfolds upon itself and is trying to find its footing. Other times w ...more
Feb 25, 2014 James rated it really liked it
One of the stranger programming books I've read. Interesting and covered a lot of the "ruby way" of doing things. Waffle on a bit in places, but not necessarily in a bad way.
Imran Qureshi
Jul 25, 2014 Imran Qureshi rated it really liked it
If all programming books were like this, I'd quickly go insane...still a great, quirky, and metaphysical introduction to Ruby. Chunky bacon not included.
Andrew Murphy
Apr 28, 2015 Andrew Murphy rated it it was amazing
If Flann O'Brien wrote a coding manual i suspect it would be something like this. Highly enjoyable read, and the bits about Ruby are a nice bonus!
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From Wikipedia:

"why the lucky stiff (often known simply as why, _why) was an anonymous, but prolific writer, cartoonist, musician, artist, and computer programmer notable for his work with the Ruby programming language. Along with Yukihiro Matsumoto and David Heinemeier Hansson, he was seen as a key figure in the Ruby community."

"On 19 August 2009, his onlin
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