Big happy birthday to Ruby! Ruby turned 30 this month so I thought I would share a little bit about how I first discovered Ruby and why I still love it today. I was in high school when Ruby was conceived, but it wouldn’t be another thirteen years before we would meet.
Before Ruby, I was a Java programmer at a big tech company and before that I was a Perl programmer at a book publishing company. I always enjoyed the process of building software and at that time I was exploring all kinds of languages and tools. At the big tech company, the standard language was Java so that was the main language at the time. They sent me to a software conference in San Francisco in 2005 (I think), where I was eager to learn more about software design patterns, agile development, continuous integration, and all that came along with the enterprise world. One evening, they held an award ceremony called The Jolt Awards.
The Jolt awards awarded software creators in a variety of categories. One in particular was called “Best New Framework” or “Best Web Framework”, I can’t remember which. I sat in the audience where this young kid took the award for “Ruby on Rails”. This kid was approximately the same age as me, dressed like me, and didn’t look anything like the other award winners which were mostly older, not-so-well-dressed nerdy men. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
That night in the hotel, I installed Ruby on my laptop and was fascinate how easy it was to pick up an run simple commands. It was like my old Perl days, but with objects and easier to read. Eventually, I would get good enough and discover “the flow” and the utter joy of writing code. It allowed me to shift from primarily focusing on the mechanics of the language (Java at the time) to the actual features of the product - essentially going from “how” to “what”. Then, later learning more about the community behind Ruby and interesting characters and books like “why’s (poignant) Guide to Ruby” was icing on the cake.
It was more than just the language that spoke to me, it was the culture. It was a profound shift. A year or so later, I quit my big tech job and started my own consulting firm so I could write Ruby everyday. And for fourteen years, I did just that - building hundreds of applications with Ruby and getting paid for it. It has been one of the greatest endeavors of my life.
Today, I love Ruby as much today as I did seventeen years ago. Even though I’ve moved on from the consulting world, I still write Ruby almost everyday in some way shape or form. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Thank you Ruby ❤️