Have you had a chance to play with JRuby at all? I have had some problems with using rubygems from JRuby specially the ones that need some pieces of native code compiled. What are your thoughts on this and on JRuby?
The reason I like the David Black book is that it gives you a better understanding of the Ruby language itself and how it provides a lot of the magic behind rails. You can use rails without knowing too much Ruby, as Rails is almost like a DSL itself, but to be really proficient, you will need to gain a deeper understanding of Ruby the language.
There are not too many widely used web frameworks outside of rails in Ruby. There is camping which is a microframework. is there a reason why you dont want to use one based on rails? [ June 19, 2007: Message edited by: Prabhakar Chaganti ]
I have not seen any gem yet that checks to see if the required libs are there. A case in point being the rmagick gem which needs imagemagick installed. The installation usually fails with a ruby stack trace about something missing.
Gems are packaging format used for distributing Ruby libraries. Think of it as a java jar file or a python egg. You can install/update these libraries by using the gem command, which will automatically download and install/update/build docs and the dependencies for the gem. It is similar in feel to using Debian's package manager "apt" to install software packages on linux.
I feel Ruby is a much more powerful language than Groovy. Groovy has a lot of language features which seem to be similar to Groovy and Python, and it has great integration with JAVA itself. But writing things in Groovy just doesnt feel very natural to me. With Jruby now you can have the same access to the JVM, while harnessing the full power and expressiveness of Ruby.