An Indian Civilizational Perspective

RUBY: the new powerful s/w language from Japan

Ruby is the latest sensation it seems! here is a low-down on its features as described on its main site.

Have a go Geeks!

Ruby is the interpreted scripting language for quick and easy object-oriented programming. It has many features to process text files and to do system management tasks (as in Perl). It is simple, straight-forward, extensible, and portable.

Oh, I need to mention, it’s totally free, which means not only free of charge, but also freedom to use, copy, modify, and distribute it.
Features of Ruby

* Ruby has simple syntax, partially inspired by Eiffel and Ada.
* Ruby has exception handling features, like Java or Python, to make it easy to handle errors.
* Ruby’s operators are syntax sugar for the methods. You can redefine them easily.
* Ruby is a complete, full, pure object oriented language: OOL. This means all data in Ruby is an object, in the sense of Smalltalk: no exceptions. Example: In Ruby, the number 1 is an instance of class Fixnum.
* Ruby’s OO is carefully designed to be both complete and open for improvements. Example: Ruby has the ability to add methods to a class, or even to an instance during runtime. So, if needed, an instance of one class *can* behave differently from other instances of the same class.
* Ruby features single inheritance only, *on purpose*. But Ruby knows the concept of modules (called Categories in Objective-C). Modules are collections of methods. Every class can import a module and so gets all its methods for free. Some of us think that this is a much clearer way than multiple inheritance, which is complex, and not used very often compared with single inheritance (don’t count C++ here, as it has often no other choice due to strong type checking!).
* Ruby features true closures. Not just unnamed function, but with present variable bindings.
* Ruby features blocks in its syntax (code surrounded by ‘{‘ … ‘}’ or ‘do’ … ‘end’). These blocks can be passed to methods, or converted into closures.
* Ruby features a true mark-and-sweep garbage collector. It works with all Ruby objects. You don’t have to care about maintaining reference counts in extension libraries. This is better for your health. 😉
* Writing C extensions in Ruby is easier than in Perl or Python, due partly to the garbage collector, and partly to the fine extension API. SWIG interface is also available.
* Integers in Ruby can (and should) be used without counting their internal representation. There *are* small integers (instances of class Fixnum) and large integers (Bignum), but you need not worry over which one is used currently. If a value is small enough, an integer is a Fixnum, otherwise it is a Bignum. Conversion occurs automatically.
* Ruby needs no variable declarations. It uses simple naming conventions to denote the scope of variables. Examples: simple ‘var’ = local variable, ‘@var’ = instance variable, ‘$var’ = global variable. So it is also not necessary to use a tiresome ‘self.’ prepended to every instance member.
* Ruby can load extension libraries dynamically if an OS allows.
* Ruby features OS independent threading. Thus, for all platforms on which Ruby runs, you also have multithreading, regardless of if the OS supports it or not, even on MS-DOS! 😉
* Ruby is highly portable: it is developed mostly on Linux, but works on many types of UNIX, DOS, Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP, MacOS, BeOS, OS/2, etc.

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