Strong opinions, weakly held

What’s Ruby’s future?

I’ve had a blog post about Ruby sort of simmering on the back burner, but I haven’t written it because I don’t really feel qualified enough to substantiate the case that I wanted to make. As so often happens, somebody else has beaten me to the punch and written something much like I had in mind.

In this case, it’s KirinDave, who explains his suspicion that Ruby is a soft of dead end. There’s a funny thing about programming languages. They’re some of the only pieces of software that really seem to eventually be finished. Perl has seemed finished for a long time. I suspect that Python may be finished. C has been finished forever. Ruby, at times, seems over but not finished, if you get my meaning.

On the other hand, I find programming in Ruby enjoyable and educational, so it’s not like I’m looking to give up. It’s just that even after a couple of years of doing it, I still feel like we’re dating rather than married.


  1. I think Ruby as a language is still alive and well, the problems most people are complaining about are the implementations, specifically C Ruby (MRI). You rarely see people complaining about the Ruby language itself.

    I know many people who don’t even consider MRI a front-runner anymore, preferring to do their development with JRuby. I think that attitude will become even more common over the next year or two as people become aware of the limitations in MRI.

    While I think the recent rash of articles like KirinDave’s come off as a bit whiny, it’s still a good idea to examine the state of the Ruby implementations regularly and ensure we don’t become complacent.

  2. You’ve touched on something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — that almost all languages are totally ossified before they are ten years old.

    I’ve been thinking about it because I realized that Haskell is 21 years old and never stopped growing and changing. Every few years someone discovers something surprising and novel, even Monads weren’t present at the beginning. I can’t really think of any other ‘living’ languages — even Smalltalk has frozen/forked periodically, despite Alan Kay’s intentions.

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