FAQ for comp.lang.ruby

RUBY NEWSGROUP FAQ – Welcome to comp.lang.ruby! (Revised 2002-6-27)

This FAQ contains information for those who want to:

  1. learn more about Ruby, and want to
  2. post to comp.lang.ruby or to the ruby-lang mail list, or want to
  3. provide anonymous feedback to help us improve Ruby.

This FAQ will be posted monthly.

Note that this is not the Ruby language FAQ! This can be found at the
main Ruby site (www.ruby-lang.org).


1 About Ruby
1.1 What is Ruby?
1.2 Where can I find out more about Ruby?
2 About comp.lang.ruby.
2.1 Tell me about comp.lang.ruby.
2.2 Tell me the posting guidelines for comp.lang.ruby.
2.3 Tell me about the prolific Matz poster.
2.4 How do the mailing list and newsgroup interrelate?
2.5 What are these 5-digit message numbers?
3 Anything else?

1 About Ruby

1.1 What is Ruby?

Ruby is a very high level, fully OO programming language. Indeed,
Ruby is one of the relatively few pure OO languages. Yet despite
its conceptual simplicity, Ruby is still a powerful and practical
"industrial strength" development language.  

Ruby selectively integrates many good ideas taken from Perl,
Python, Smalltalk, Eiffel, ADA, Clu, and Lisp. Ruby combines 
these ideas in a natural, well-coordinated system that embodies 
the principles of least effort and least surprise to a 
substantially greater extent than most comparable languages -- 
i.e. you get more bang for your buck, and what you write is more 
likely to give you what you expected to get.  Ruby is thus a 
relatively easy to learn, easy to read, and easy to maintain 
language; yet it is very powerful and sophisticated.  

In addition to common OO features, Ruby also has threads,
singleton methods, mixins, fully integrated closures and
iterators, plus proper meta-classes.   Ruby has a true
mark-and-sweep garbage collector, which makes code more reliable
and simplifies writing extensions.  In summary, Ruby provides a
very powerful and very easy to deploy "standing on the shoulders
of giants" OO scaffolding/framework so that you can more quickly
and easily build what you want to build, to do what you want to

You will find many former (and current) Perl, Python, Java, and
C++ users on comp.lang.ruby that can help you get up to speed in

Finally, Ruby is an "open source" development programming

1.2 Where can I find out more about Ruby?

Ruby's home web site:

    http://www.ruby-lang.org/en (Ruby English language home page.)

        Follow the links to documentation, downloads, the Ruby
        Application Archive, the Ruby mail list archives, and lots
        of other interesting information.  

Ruby's other major on-line documentation and links site:


Ruby FAQ: 


Ruby User's Guide (introductory tutorial):


Ruby Reference Manual:


Ruby classes, modules, and methods reference:


English language Ruby books (recent publication order):

    Sams Teach Yourself Ruby in 21 Days
    by Mark Slagell
    Sams; ISBN: 0672322528 (March, 2002)

    Ruby Developer's Guide
    by Michael Neumann, Robert Feldt, Lyle Johnson
    Publishers Group West; ISBN: 1928994644 (February, 2002)

    The Ruby Way
    by Hal Fulton
    Sams; ISBN: 0672320835 (December, 2001)

    Ruby In A Nutshell
    by Yukihiro Matsumoto
    O'Reilly & Associates; ISBN: 0596002149 (November, 2001)

    Programming Ruby: A Pragmatic Guide
    by Dave Thomas and Andrew Hunt
    Addison Wesley; ISBN: 0201710897 (2000)
    Internet version: http://www.rubycentral.com/ref/
    Errata: http://www.pragmaticprogrammer.com/ruby/errata.html

Forthcoming English language Ruby books (author alpha order):

    The Ruby Developer's Handbook
    Robert Calco, Rich Kilmer, Dana Moore
    Sams Publishing, ISBN: ??? (2002)

    CANCELED, MARCH 2002 (for reasons unknown):
    The Ruby Programming Language
    by Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto and Keiju Ishitsuka 
    Addison Wesley Professional; ISBN: 020171096X (June, 2002)

Forthcoming German language Ruby books (author alpha order):

    Programmieren mit Ruby
    by Armin Roehrl, Stefan Schmiedl, Clemens Wyss, etc.
    dpunkt.de; ISBN 3898641511 (February, 2002)

    Apparently _Programming Ruby_ (Thomas/Hunt)is being published 
    in German by AWL. More on this later.

Search past postings to comp.lang.ruby or the ruby-lang mail list
(which have been mirrored to each other since mid-2000):

    (Enter comp.lang.ruby in the "forum" entry field.)


Local Ruby users and groups in your area:


2 About comp.lang.ruby.

2.1 Tell me about comp.lang.ruby

comp.lang.ruby was officially approved in early May, 2000. 
(Conrad Schneiker, the former maintainer of this FAQ, was 
responsible for the "net paperwork" of creating this group.)
Here is the official charter:

    CHARTER: comp.lang.ruby

    The comp.lang.ruby newsgroup is devoted to discussions of the
    Ruby programming language and related issues.

    Examples of relevant postings include, but are not limited
    to, the following subjects:

    - Bug reports
    - Announcements of software written with Ruby
    - Examples of Ruby code
    - Suggestions for Ruby developers
    - Requests for help from new Ruby programmers

    The newsgroup is not moderated.  Binaries are prohibited
    (except the small PGP type). Advertising is prohibited (except
    for announcements of new Ruby-related products).


2.2 Tell me the posting guidelines for comp.lang.ruby.

(You should also follow these guidelines for the ruby-list mail
list, since it is mirrored to comp.lang.ruby.) 

(1) ALWAYS be friendly, considerate, tactful, and tasteful.  We
    want to keep this forum hospitable to the growing ranks of
    newbies, very young people, and their teachers, as well as
    cater to fire breathing wizards.  :-)

(2) Keep your content relevant and easy to follow. Try to keep
    your content brief and to the point, but also try to include
    all relevant information.

    (a) The general format guidelines (aka USENET Netiquette) are
        matters of common sense and common courtesy that make life
        easier for 3rd parties to follow along (in real time or 
        when perusing archives):

        - PLEASE NOTE! Include quoted text from previous posts
          *BEFORE* your responses. And *selectively* quote as much
          as is relevant. 
        - Use *plain* text; don't use HTML, RTF, or Word. Most
          mail or newsreader programs have an option for this; if
          yours doesn't, get a (freeware) program or use a
          web-based service that does.
        - Include examples from files as *in-line* text; don't
          use attachments.

    (b) If reporting a problem, give *all* the relevant
        information the first time; this isn't the psychic friends
        newsgroup.  :-)  When appropriate, include:

        - The version of Ruby. ("ruby -v")
        - The compiler name and version used to build Ruby.
        - The OS type and level. ("uname -a")
        - The actual error messages.
        - An example (preferably simple) that produces the

    (c) If reporting a bug, please copy (cc:) your post to:


        This will enter your report into the Ruby bug database.
        You can browse the database at:


(3) Make the subject line maximally informative, so that people
    who should be interested will read your post and so that people
    who wouldn't be interested can easily avoid it.  

    *Usefully* describe the contents of your post:

        This is OK: 
            "How can I do x with y on z?"
            "Problem: did x, expected y, got z."
            "Bug: doing x with module y crashed z."

        This is *NOT* OK:

            "Please help!!!"
            "Newbie question"
            "Need Ruby guru to tell me what's wrong"

(4) Finally, be considerate: don't be too lazy. If you are
    seeking information, first make a reasonable effort to look it
    up. As appropriate, check the Ruby home page, check the Ruby
    FAQ and other documentation, use deja.com to search past
    comp.lang.ruby postings, and so on.  

2.3 Tell me about the prolific Matz poster.

Matz (aka Yukihiro Matsumoto) is the wizard who created Ruby for
us, so be nice to him. He is very busy, so be patient when asking
questions. See the Ruby home page to find out more about him and
his work. I (Conrad Schneiker) founded comp.lang.ruby at his 
suggestion. Contrary to lots of skepticism, it was approved on 
the first attempt, with 200 yes votes.

2.4 How do the mailing list and newsgroup interrelate?

The mailing list is older. When the newsgroup was created, they
diverged. In mid-2001, Dave Thomas created a two-way gateway 
that would "mirror" the newsgroup to the list and vice versa.
It is not perfect; because of variability in the news feed, 
sometimes messages are dropped or duplicated.

The online archive of the mailing list therefore includes most
of the traffic on the newsgroup, excluding the posts that were
made before the creation of the gateway.

2.5 What are these 5-digit message numbers?

Historically, every item on the mailing list had a subject
starting with a string like: [ruby-talk:99999]

The message numbers were convenient since they were strictly
serial and formed a good way to refer to a past message. But
they interfered with threading; Matz removed them after the
matter was put to a vote in early 2002.

The news header still refers to this number, should anyone
wish to retrieve it.

You can point to a specific message by appending it onto the
ruby-talk.org URL; i.e. http://ruby-talk.org/12345 will refer
to message 12345.
  1. Anything else?

    If you are new to Ruby (or haven’t previously taken the Ruby User
    Survey), please take a moment to anonymously tell us about your
    programming background and about your Ruby-related interests. The
    results will be reported back to the Ruby community from time to
    time. This helps us do a better job of helping each other, and to
    more effectively expand the Ruby community for our mutual benefit.
    The survey is at:


    This FAQ was produced by Conrad Schneiker (schneiker@jump.net).
    It is now maintained by Hal Fulton (hal9000@hypermetrics.com).
    I’m interested in corrections and suggestions, but remember that
    the purpose of this FAQ is to be a brief and simple introduction
    for new comp.lang.ruby readers.

    In closing, one of the reasons that Ruby was designed to be
    relatively simple, uniform, yet very powerful was to make serious
    programming (among other kinds) fun. We hope you will help us
    keep comp.lang.ruby fun as well. Enjoy. :slight_smile:

Hal E. Fulton wrote:

Forthcoming German language Ruby books (author alpha order):

    Programmieren mit Ruby
    by Armin Roehrl, Stefan Schmiedl, Clemens Wyss, etc.
    dpunkt.de; ISBN 3898641511 (February, 2002)

    Apparently _Programming Ruby_ (Thomas/Hunt)is being published 
    in German by AWL. More on this later.

These two books are already out for sale (the pickaxe book is called
“Programmieren mit Ruby. Handbuch für den pragmatischen Programmierer.”
in German; ISBN: 382731965X).

And there’s a forthcoming book in German, I discovered at amazon.de

Das Einsteigerseminar Ruby.
Der methodische und ausführliche Einstieg.
by Dirk Engel and Klaus Spreckelsen
ISBN: 3826672429

It will be published this year.



Der Weg zum Wirt: http://www.wirtshauskultur.at