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Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers' Guide

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,376 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 828 pages
Published October 11th 2004 by Pragmatic Bookshelf (first published December 15th 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,678)
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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 Ru ...more
Manuel Menezes de Sequeira
Aug 21, 2011 Manuel Menezes de Sequeira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ms. Jen
Oct 17, 2007 Ms. Jen rated it liked it
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. Stil
Jan 16, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it
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 rea
Eustaquio Rangel
Sep 03, 2011 Eustaquio Rangel rated it it was amazing
A must read for every Ruby programmer.
Eric Hogue
Jan 18, 2016 Eric Hogue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is considered by many to be the reference on Ruby. I really appreciated the first 3 sections of the book. It shows how to program in Ruby, how to install and configure it and more advanced topics. The chapter on meta-programming is very good.

The last part is a library reference. It can be a great way to find out what's available, but after that, it's probably faster to look for it on the internet.
Piotr Zurek
May 05, 2013 Piotr Zurek rated it it was amazing
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 u
Aug 21, 2012 D.N. rated it really liked it
Shelves: textbook, programming
A tour de force journey through the dynamic, object-oriented language known as Ruby, with over 200 pages of new material and full descriptions of all the standard library modules. Covers strings, classes, blocks, and regular expressions with thorough examples. This book has such a reputation as the definitive reference for learning Ruby that it is simply called "The Pickaxe Book" in the programming community. There are many Ruby tutorials and references on the web, but the beauty of this book is ...more
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
Fernando Fernandes
Nov 28, 2014 Fernando Fernandes rated it it was ok
This book lacks structure and organization. It constantly jumps from simple to complex examples and it's hard to get the author's intention. It's just too confusing. In parallel, I'm reading Apple's Swift book. It's impossible not to compare. I'm not talking about the language, but how the books were structured. Apple targets the reader, making the programmer comfortable with the language. This book is the opposite. It made me feel uncomfortable with Ruby. I might use it as a reference book, but ...more
Mar 01, 2008 Clifford rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: programmers, computer language nerds, people who want to know what all the hype is about
Shelves: computerbooks
Very nice introduction to a very cool programming language. I like the way the author's started out explaining the language from the point-of-view of describing a hypothetical project that they were going to implement in Ruby and stuck with that metaphor throughout the book (even in the more arcane 'Interfacing Ruby with C' sections). The last 200 pages or so is also essentially a very nice 'Ruby in a Nutshell' type reference so you get 2 books for the price of one: (a) A good tutorial on the Ru ...more
Apr 05, 2015 Lyuben rated it really liked it
You definitely shouldn't read it like a normal book... It's more like a "reference book"
Aug 11, 2012 Kat rated it really liked it

Bought the new version from Pragprog. Added a few errors on the errata list. Don't read this with an iPad. Go try the code samples. Some may not work on 1.9.3. Overall I am happy to have spent time reading "what I assume to have always known" about Ruby. It remains to be the most fascinating language I use. I am happy with how this book is written even if it is obviously not perfect (but looking forward to revisions). Their credits to the Japanese programmers who improve the language is good. R
Apr 24, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 wi
Jun 22, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ruby
The 'pickaxe,' oft-cited as the definitive guide for aspiring Ruby hackers. I'd have to agree. The edition I have was updated for the current release of Ruby and contains some gems about the inner-workings of the language that I found fascinating. Read it if you are a dyed-in-the-wool Rubyist or even a dispassionate student of computer languages. You'll no doubt find something worthwhile here.
Jul 15, 2014 Alex rated it really liked it
Shelves: development
Great first part, but quick reference for main classes is obsolete in world of Ruby docs
Jan 23, 2014 Mark rated it liked it
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
Amar Pai
Jul 02, 2012 Amar Pai marked it as who-am-i-kidding-will-never-read  ·  review of another edition
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?!
Michael Minutillo
Oct 20, 2009 Michael Minutillo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: software
This book was the beginning of a great journey through the ruby language for me which changed my style of programming quite significantly. The writing style is clear and easy to follow whilst at the same time managing to convey a lot of information in a concise way. I wish all programming books were written this way.
Jul 26, 2010 Lyle rated it really liked it
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.
May 29, 2007 Bill rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: current and aspiring ruby programmers
Shelves: computers, ruby
Solid how-to and reference book. This is how I learned Ruby, now my favorite programming language. I can't get past the author's name though. Every time I notice it on my shelf I think, "So that's what he's been up to since SCTV."
Jul 21, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The key reference for understanding the Ruby programming language. If you want to be up-to-speed on Ruby you've got to have this book. I also have the PDF version which is great to have if you're not by your bookshelf.
Feb 01, 2009 RJ added it
Shelves: ruby
Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers' Guide, Second Edition by Dave Thomas (2004)
Mark Harris
Feb 05, 2012 Mark Harris rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to the Ruby programming language. Style is considerably more readable (an occasionally humorous) than the usual Tech book. Ruby is an object oriented, interpreted language.
Feb 12, 2012 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very comprehensive look at Ruby and the aspects of the language people seem to enjoy. Explanations on the difference between Ruby 1.9 and previous iterations are also very thorough.
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!
Dec 04, 2009 Louise rated it liked it
This works well as a reference book, but it's not exactly beach reading. I like that most things are easy to look up and laid out in a manner where it's easy to skim for what you want.
Angus McDonald
Oct 26, 2008 Angus McDonald rated it it was amazing
Shelves: coding
Great reference work that also manages to be a good introduction to the language itself. Not the bets place for Ruby on Rails, but an essential addition to your Ruby library.
Jaret Manuel
Jan 08, 2013 Jaret Manuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better for the more advanced programmer / Rubyist. Avoid if you are new to Programming and Ruby. Awesome reference versus tutorial.
This book is all over the map.
May 06, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the bible of ruby and a must read for any new ruby developer. I read it after working in ruby for about 4 years and still found quite a few awesome new things.
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