Is Ruby the fastest growing language on the web?

There is alot of hype sorrounding Ruby and Ruby on Rails.  As a fanboy of Ruby and gearing myself up to start developing Ruby on Rails apps I am always trying to inform myself of the future of this awesome programming language.

SAN FRANCISCO — With Java now a very mature language with millions of developers, the Ruby language is among the fastest growing programming languages, and the number of Ruby developers is expected to quadruple over the next five years.In a panel discussion at the Sun’s CommunityOne day preview to JavaOne here on May 5, Mark Driver, an analyst at Gartner, said, “There are under one million professional Ruby developers now and we’re projecting there will be four million plus by 2013.” Driver later told eWEEK that Gartner’s research shows “strong interest” in Ruby and that the percentage of developers that will be creating commercial systems versus those that are hobbyists will be even greater for Ruby than for other languages. “Ruby will be more interesting to commercial developers,” he said.

The panel discussion featured a variety of participants, including some core contributors to the JRuby project and a trio of Ruby developers. In addition, while broaching the issue of Ruby’s growth, the session also at times compared Ruby to other languages such as PHP and Java itself. JRuby is an implementation of Ruby that runs on the JVM (Java Virtual Machine).

Charles Nutter, a Sun engineer who is a core committer to JRuby, said one reason developers are beginning to look at Ruby is that “Ruby is the flavor of the week, and there are a lot of ways to solve the problems of the Web.” 

According to the TIOBE Programming Community Index, it is one of the fastest growing languages, but has seen a decline between 2007-2008.

Dec 2008
Dec 2007
Delta in Position Programming Language Ratings
Dec 2008
Dec 2007
1 1 Java 19.367% -0.68%   A
2 2 C 16.163% +2.99%   A
3 5 C++ 10.893% +3.02%   A
4 4 PHP 9.479% +1.09%   A
5 3 (Visual) Basic 9.478% -0.74%   A
6 8 C# 4.643% +0.65%   A
7 6 Python 4.567% -0.13%   A
8 7 Perl 3.603% -0.78%   A
9 10 JavaScript 3.062% +0.33%   A
10 11 Delphi 3.055% +0.38%   A
11 9 Ruby 2.308% -0.78%   A
12 12 D 1.185% -0.45%   A
13 13 PL/SQL 1.140% -0.25%   A
14 14 SAS 0.843% -0.55%   A
15 19 Pascal 0.689% -0.10%   B
16 15 COBOL 0.631% -0.26%   B
17 16 ABAP 0.603% -0.27%   B
18 21 Logo 0.569% -0.18%   B
19 17 Lisp/Scheme 0.515% -0.33%   B
20 20 Lua 0.494% -0.28%   B


Lets look at some of the features that Ruby extends to us:

  • Interpreted:  Ruby is an interpreted language. Therefore, whenever you make a change to the source code, you need not compile the code and then run it to see the effect of the change. As a result of this feature, the code-compile-run cycle becomes the code-run cycle.
  • Purely Object-Oriented: Ruby is purely object-oriented. That means that everything in Ruby is an object which includes primitive data-types and numbers. In addition, it supports all the features required by an Object-Oriented Language.
  • Functional: Ruby supports functional programming using blocks.
  • Duck Typing: It is also known as Dynamic Typing. Ruby decides about the type of variable while the program is running by looking at the value contained in the variable at that instant. In other words, if an object looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, then it is a duck!
  • Automatic Memory Management: You would know it as Garbage Collection. As in any Very High-Level Language (VHLL), Ruby provides Garbage Collection out-of-the-box, thus you need not worry about physical memory leaks.
  • Threading: The current stable version of Ruby provides ‘almost’ platform independent threading using green threads (threads used at the user-space level are known as green threads.) I said ‘almost’ because Ruby threads are simulated in the VM rather than running as native OS threads.
  • Reflection: Ruby provides a program with the ability to ‘look at itself’ while running. This ability is known by different terms, such as reflection, introspection, and so on. Using reflection, a program can modify certain aspects of itself during execution, or create a completely new object at runtime based on the requirements at that time.
The fact that Ruby is a new player on the block and when its stands on its own can also challenge veteran players like J2EE/JEE says alot for this emerging programming language.  Tim Oreilly sums it up pretty well in his short article “Trends of :

I wrote yesterday about the rise of Ruby and Javascript, driven by the move towards Web 2.0 applications. Also worthy of note in these graphs is the long, slow decline of Java and C/C++, and the continuing rise in market share of C#. You can see how Ruby’s sharp ascent follows the introduction of Rails, and that PHP’s fortunes reversed before book sales showed that web developers in search of rapid development languages moved over to RoR (and Microsoft’s ASP.Net suite of technologies.)

6 Comments Is Ruby the fastest growing language on the web?

  1. JulesLt

    The funny thing is that Ruby actually dates from about the same time as Java (1995) but it’s just taken this long for it to become a practical programming language (i.e. applications now often more network or database bound rather than CPU bound, means that language performance is less critical than developer productivity).

    Of course, the same thing was once true of Java itself.

    I’m always intrigued by the TIOBE index – I find it hard to believe that Objective-C ranks far below LUA, for instance, given the strong and evident interest in iPhone development. Ditto ActionScript (there a huge number of Flash developers out there). Perhaps LUA’s rating is boosted by the fact a Google search on Lua returns more results as it is martial art, restaurant, and surname??

  2. admin

    Jules cheers for your comment. I’ve been an Actionscript Developer/designer for some time now and getting into ROR will definitely add to my skill-set. Some might say “What about PHP?” Well i do like PHP and there are many jobs out there for PHP developers, but i really see Ruby and Rails as the new generation programming language (mind the performance, i’m sure they will work it out soon!).

    The Tiobe index is new to me, but much like yourself i also find it very interesting indeed – I read a great article 7 reasons I switched back to PHP after 2 years on Rails. over at Oreilly blogs in case you were interested.

    There has been a steady incline with the amount of Iphone development taking place, thats for sure -> and LUA is a language i hadn’t even heard of till i reviewed Tiobe, and its been around since 1993.

    One a personal note: In my part of the world its hard to find a {decent} PHP developer. Its like you ask these dudes about CSS and they look at you and say: Duoh huh? Bah, phooey we iz sticking to tables!! Its not that they aren’t capable of learning new stuff, but they are just not willing to learn anything new. For me thats the kiss of death right there.

  3. Chris

    I think jRuby is what will make Ruby become “the next big thing” of the Web. Seamless integration with enormous already-existing base of Java code and libraries, with all the qualities of a dynamic language, is what gives it a huge advantage over competitive technologies.

  4. Bettie Leny

    Greetings! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.


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