📝 en ~ 3 min

📘 #devbooks: why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby

Share this post

This books is a gem! With humor, examples in clear and plain language, a deep love for the subject. This mysterious author introduced a generation tho tthe Ruby language and is at the same time an technical book on first steps on a language and an work of art.

why’s (pognant) Guide to Ruby is another book that you can read and get totally for free. It’s one of these books that have a rich and story. As most of us have started, opening the “See the source code”, copying and pasting and making minor changes, I was intrigued by the so-called languages. Mixing an introduction on the Ruby language, a very self-aware humor and complete fiction story in the cartoons foxes (and a sad and wicked one sometimes), collages, this book had some “fanzine” feeling that I liked a lot, even having made some back in the day. After successfully install irb on my machine, this was my actual first “Hello World”:

        5.times { print "Odelay!" }`

Which the book explained to me so straightforward, that even not nearly having a full understanding of English at the time I could follow along.

In English sentences, punctuation (such as periods, exclamations, parentheses) are silent. Punctuation adds meaning to words, helps give cues as to what the author intended by a sentence. So let’s read the above as: Five times print “Odelay!”.

It was not only me that this book touched. A lot of developers started with the language thanks to this book and have an intringuing story itself with the disappearing of its author. This documentary (do not be scary to hear documentary has less than 20 minutes, 4 pomodoros of idle time):

My conscience won’t let me call Ruby a computer language. That would imply that the language works primarily on the computer’s terms. That the language is designed to accommodate the computer, first and foremost. That therefore, we, the coders, are foreigners, seeking citizenship in the computer’s locale. It’s the computer’s language and we are translators for the world.

But what do you call the language when your brain begins to think in that language? When you start to use the language’s own words and colloquialisms to express yourself. Say, the computer can’t do that. How can it be the computer’s language? It is ours, we speak it natively!

We can no longer truthfully call it a computer language. It is coderspeak. It is the language of our thoughts.

Some of the few talks by the author:

What we can learn from “_why”, the long lost open source developer by The ReadME Project
_why: A Tale Of A Post-Modern Genius by Smashing Magazine
A recommendation on the wild for this book
Thanks _Why by Dana Mulder
_why’s Estate