This is part 2 of my Cloud programming series where I give myself a crash-course in learning Ruby.

When I first read the list of language features in the [Wikipedia entry on the Ruby programming language](, I started screaming like a two year old. Seriously, I did computer science at ANU in the late (mumble)ties but I don’t remember learning anything about first class continuations, closures, fibers or duck-typing. But as we learned in the Stanley Kubrick classic Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the best way to confront your fear is to embrace it wholeheartedly.

In order to deliver on the challenge I set myself in Part 1, I decided I’d better give myself a crash-course in Ruby.

One of the first things I discovered about the Ruby programming world is this: almost everyone uses a Mac (My theory? There are 57% more letters in ‘Windows’ and brevity is one of the hallmarks of the Rubyist). But there is a perfectly adequate Ruby installer for Windows for those of us still transitioning to the modern world (in fact my preferred Ruby programming platform is now Ubuntu but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

I like good documentation, which can be a problem in open source projects (The code is the documentation, dude! Really?), so I was pleased to see that the Windows install includes The Book of Ruby by Huw Collingbourne. However, the edition I got was based on Ruby 1.8 not the 1.9 version that was installed. So I headed over to The Pragmatic Bookshelf for a copy of the complete reference guide to Programming Ruby 1.9 by Dave Thomas, otherwise known as the “PickAxe”. I have found this book invaluable. On a side note, I love that you can set up your Pragmatic account so that when you purchase an e-book it is automatically delivered to your Dropbox and Kindle within minutes.

Next up, I installed an IDE (see, this Windows upbringing is hard to shake), the excellent JetBrains RubyMine which is much more than an editor. I’ll explain more about this choice in a future blog.

I then embarked on a self-directed learning program.

I read through (and even understood some of) Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby. This tries to twist your head into the same dimension as the author which in my case was only moderately successful, but it did whet my appetite with a taste of Ruby’s beauty.

Try Ruby is an interactive tutorial, providing a basic introduction to the language via a browser based REPL (that’s read-eval-print-loop or “console” for the rest of us). Like everyone else, my first Ruby line of code was: puts "Hello World!"

Learn Ruby the Hard Way by Zed A. Shaw and Rob Sobers is a PDF guide to learning programming in Ruby, basically through repetition. There are 52 exercises that you read, type in the sample code and run to check that you did it correctly. I eventually found this quite tedious and skipped out at #42 but it did get me started writing in the language.

Finally, I decided to climb onto the atomic bomb and ride that sucker all the way down to ground zero: I went to Rails Camp 11 which was held over a weekend in June 2012 at Koonjewarre, Springbrook in Queensland. This really was a fantastic experience that I highly recommend and with the help of people like Carl Woodward and Jeremy Grant, I managed to push out a working Sinatra app to display a dashboard of scalable time-series charts of Ninefold usage data using Highcharts.


puts "Hello World!"


@exclude ||= "AND t.account_id NOT IN (
  #{ { |a| "'#{a}'" }.join(",") })" unless exclusions.nil?

I have evolved…

Originally published at Ninefold (2010-2015), a cloud services provider I helped found.