<pre>Author/s : Dave Thomas, Chad Fowler, Andy Hunt Publisher : Pragmatic Bookshelf Category :Other Review by : Lasse Koskela Rating : 9 horseshoes</pre> This was another book that I picked up with the expectation that it would introduce me to a whole new programming language. It did. And it did it well. The overall quality of the writing is top notch and the pragmatic approach simply works. Not too much memorizing the language syntax, not too much talk about the history of computers. Instead, the book jumps to the Ruby world head on.
So I just said "not too much memorizing the language syntax". What does that mean? Well, the first part of the book does indeed teach the reader to write syntactically correct Ruby code. However, the way it accomplishes this is not by focusing on the syntax but on the function behind the syntax. Also, the authors have paced the chapters so that you won't be spending too long a time reading about some single specific thing. For me, this approach fits like an old glove. I usually read books in short sprints, be it in a bathtub, a bus, or in bed. Having said that, I do believe that you can get the most out of this book by alternating with reading the book and the interactive Ruby interpreter. There is a downside to the fast pace, though. At times, a specific chapter doesn't quite give you the kind of sense of belonging as the others around it do.
Looking at the wide range of topics listed in the table of contents, the book definitely looks like it covers everything under the Sun. Some of the topics got me panting, almost. Developing web applications with Ruby (one of my motivations behind deciding to read the book in the first place) and unittesting Ruby classes, for example, were topics that I was a bit disappointed about not getting more focus.
Another thing I didn't like too much is the size. At 800+ pages, you're not likely to carry this book around with you. I would've personally preferred putting the 300-page the language/API reference online and left it out from the hardcopy. With the size thing out of my way, I have to admit that the reference certainly looks great compared to what I've seen in most Java books, for example.
All in all, I'm confident that this is one of the best Ruby books out there if not the best, even. Regardless of the few gripes I listed above, there's more than enough absolute gems hidden within these covers. I am certain you won't have second thoughts picking this one to get started on your Ruby way.