Bruce Eckel really doesn’t like Ruby. I don’t know why he doesn’t; I know he’s explained it in the past. Yes, there’s a lot of enthusiasm around Ruby and Ruby on Rails lately: this group blog has certainly been created because of this enthusiasm. But the enthusiasts and the detractors both distract from the larger reality that there’s never going to be a single programming language that is best suited for all projects.
The problem is that some people—this includes some Rubyists—who think that Ruby is in a language war with Python (or Java or…) and that “there can be only one.” Unlike Highlander, this isn’t a zero-sum game. While the Rails crew can be extremely enthusiastic about Rails and Ruby, few of them pretend that Rails is a silver bullet for every problem. Rails is a targeted application framework that takes advantage of—and perhaps even extends—the opinionated and expressive nature of Ruby.
As I work on PDF::Writer, I freely admit that its origin came from the R&OS cPDF library written in gasp! PHP. I’ve taken it far beyond cPDF, and I have looked at Perl’s PDF::API2, Python’s ReportLab, Java’s iText (and the C# port iTextSharp), and will be looking at CL-PDF for Common Lisp (if anyone has other open source libraries that are worth studying, please let me know) as I formulate both the implementation and the API of PDF::Writer and its future companion projects (PDF::Core and PDF::Reader).
I believe that I work smarter in Ruby than in any other language I’ve used so far, and it makes me happy. That doesn’t mean that everyone will work smarter in Ruby or that it will make them happy. I personally don’t want Bruce to use Ruby—why would you use something that doesn’t make you happy? If Ruby didn’t exist, I would be a bitter Python developer. There are things about the Python language (whitespace scoping) and the Python community (there’s only one “right” way to do it) that made me turn away from Python as soon as I saw that there was a viable alternative (modulo libraries, of course, but that also meant that I was able to jump right in and start offering libraries to the community). Would Bruce want me to be part of the Python community if I were bitter about Python’s warts? Somehow, I doubt it.
I think that the strength of the Ruby community is that it (mostly) recognises that it isn’t a zero-sum game. We’ve been around the block, most of us, and don’t think that there’s a single answer. We just know what makes us happy right now.