Ruby is a cross-platform interpreted language which has many features in common with other ‘scripting’ languages such as Perl and Python. It has an ‘English language’ style syntax which looks somewhat Pascal-like at first sight. It is thoroughly object oriented, and has a good deal in common with the great-granddaddy of ‘pure’ OO languages, Smalltalk. It has been said that the lan-guages which most influenced the development of Ruby were: Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada and Lisp. The Ruby language was created by Yukihiro Matsumoto (commonly known as ‘Matz’) and it was first released in 1995.
Currently much of the excitement surrounding Ruby can be attributed to a web development framework called Rails – popularly known as ‘Ruby On Rails’. Rails is an impressive framework but it is not the be-all and end-all of Ruby. Indeed, if you were to leap right into Rails development without first mastering Ruby, you might find that you end up creating applications that you don’t even understand (this is, in fact, all too common among Ruby On Rails novices). Understanding Ruby is a necessary prerequisite of understanding Rails.