Metaprogramming Ruby: Program Like the Ruby Pros Paperback – Feb 25 2010
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""If you program in Ruby, buy this book. Twice. Ruby isn't magic anymore, just great.""--Joe Alba""In Ruby, the practitioners of metaprogramming have found a language where they are only constrained by their imagination. To reach mastery is hard, and even harder is to apply it tastefully. This book gives a grounding in the fundamentals of metaprogramming Ruby in such a way that anyone can pick it up and then immediately start using it. Paolo brings out the core of how simple metaprogramming can be in this book, and that is no easy task.""--Ola Bini, ThoughtWorks
About the Author
Paolo Perrotta has more than ten years of experience as a developer and writer. He worked for domains ranging from embedded to enterprise software, computer games, and web applications. These days, Paolo coaches agile teams for Yoox, a large Internet fashion shop, and teaches Java to developers throughout Europe. He lives in Bologna, Italy, with his girlfriend and a cat. He loves Ruby.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
i) Highlights the conceptual differences between Ruby and other currently popular languages
ii) Shows how those conceptual differences are expressed in programming constructs by walking the reader through a number of small but realistic example problems
iii) Reviews internal details of a number of pieces of real-world software (most notably Rails) to show how the authors of these packages use the techniques he describes to solve their problems
iv) Provides a number of helpful and applicable guidelines on how to 'think in Ruby'
v) Generates a GoF style catalog of implementation patterns
vi) Skewers the notion that 'metaprogramming' is any different than regular programming
After finishing this book I have a real appreciation of the techniques the author describes, and how they can be used to write flexible, powerful, and maintainable software. Before reading this book I was aware of a number of these techniques, but I didn't necessarily understand how they could be effectively used to solve real problems. Now I do. The book truly covers how to think in Ruby - how to naturally solve problems in Ruby, as opposed to adapting techniques commonly used in languages from the C/C++/Java lineage.
The one major criticism I had of Metaprogramming Ruby was the 'fanboy' tone that permeates a lot of the text. Frequently the author seems more interested in getting you to agree with him that Ruby is great than in conveying the concepts being discussed. There are a lot of gratuitous slams of other languages (especially Java) that were frankly unnecessary and distracted from the book. Had the tone of those comparisons been a little more highbrow and a little less schoolyard, this would have been a better book.
Overall rating: 4.5 stars
The technical content of this book is very, very good. The book explains much of the basic structure of ruby (object model, class definitions, blocks, method lookup, etc) in such a way that common idioms that I have previously used without understanding their underlying mechanisms now make complete sense, and my understanding and command of some of the more powerful features of ruby have greatly improved.
Real-world code examples drawn mostly from ruby gems are included, and these are excellent illustrations of ideas presented.
As with many technical books, many of the non-real-world code examples are extremely simple and contrived. For the most part, this is acceptable, but there are instances where the tests/sample output provided for exercises were incomplete -- in the sense that you can come up with a flawed and incomplete piece of code which will still make the test pass.
The thing about this book that drove me up the wall is the insipid story line: You have started a new job, and you have an incredibly chirpy and annoying coworker with whom you must pair program, and who lectures you about the ruby object model, etc. The dialogues are awful; Bill The Asinine Coworker "exclaims" and "shouts" much like characters in bad romance novels supposedly do. The text is littered with irrelevant and distracting details about sipping coffee and grabbing keyboards and ignoring whiteboards in favor of napkins.
This is possibly the best exposition of the ruby object model available, however, so if you are frustrated by the piecemeal information available on the web and you don't have a chirpy co-worker by the name of Bill to mentor you, I would highly recommend reading this book.
Also: the book is well written and organized. I especially like that whenever a particular topic is mentioned a page reference also appears. This makes it easy to do a quick review of the topic before going further, like "Hook Methods (181)."
This book will not sit idly on my shelf. I'll be going back to it again and again for review and further mastery of the topics.
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