Ruby vs. Python: Which Programming Language To Choose in 2021?

Ruby vs. Python may or may not be your top concern right now. For businesses that are new to the technical field and in general, you might be looking for the tools you need to start your next project. Other businesses already have a head start and want to be smart about scaling up. 

Whatever the case may be, if you’re asking which programming language you should choose for the new year and Ruby vs. Python is running circles in your mind, don’t be alarmed. Today, you’ll get a breakdown of all the details you need to know to make your final decision.

Ruby vs. Python: Side-by-Side Comparison

Compare Ruby vs. Python side by side to further realize their differences and similarities. Here goes. 

Web Framework

When you compare Ruby and Python’s respective frameworks, Django and Ruby on Rails, you will find them to be strikingly similar. 

Both utilize the classic MVC pattern, have several libraries to add functionality, and similarly have repositories – PyPi for Python and RubyGems for Ruby. 

TLDR: For Ruby vs. Python in web development, both frameworks perform well. No winners here.

Machine Learning

Python’s libraries make it the go-to language for artificial intelligence (AI). Programmers working on machine learning must have proficiency fluency in Python as it is used to create most AI algorithms. 

On the other end, there is Ruby. While there is potential, Ruby must tweak its machine learning and AI libraries to do as well as Python in this field. Ruby won’t replace Python anytime soon. 

TLDR: Python is a long-standing resource for machine learning programming. Thinking about machine learning in the context of Ruby vs. Python, Ruby certainly has potential. But ultimately, Python wins. 

Documentation & Libraries

Per above, RubyGems and PyPi are both extensive repositories giving developers the ability to program exhaustive feature sets into their code. That said, Python has a far greater range of libraries than does Ruby.

Python’s libraries, either for the language’s popularity or age, are also more mature with better-written documentation for developers to follow. 

TLDR: Within the framework of Ruby vs. Python, Python has more exhaustive positioning in terms of documentation and libraries. To put it simply, Python wins. 

Testing Environment

Test-driven development (TDD) is a standard both Python and Ruby wish to assert in their languages. In Python, PyTest and unit tests exist in order to urge developers to write better code through small but frequent tests. 

But one thing Ruby has that Python doesn’t is a behavior-driven development (BDD). This type of testing, brought to Ruby vis RSpec, works by comparing your codebase to a list of requirements written out by developers. 

TLDR: For the most part, in Ruby vs. Python on testing both languages have the same capabilities. However, Ruby has the capacity for BDD. Ruby wins. 

Performance

Python and Ruby are both high-performing, interpreted languages. Not to mention, they are both open-source. Comparing the performance of open-source languages can often be a moot point. Their libraries can always be optimized to achieve your end goal. 

TLDR: Ruby vs. Python compares open-source languages that can be optimized toward your performance needs. It’s a tie here.

Learning Curve

Ruby is known for its elegant syntax. It uses simple English words that are easy to understand. But Python is just as simple and uses language that is even more natural. There’s no roundabout way to explain the ease of learning Python. It’s just easy. 

TLDR: For Ruby vs. Python, Python is easier to learn than Ruby due to its syntax. Python wins. 

Community 

As both Ruby and Python are open-source, this means that almost by definition the two languages have vast communities. 

Of course, Ruby only started becoming popular after the development of Ruby on Rails. Python, in turn, had a decade-long head start of stardom. And considering Python’s small learning curve, many a developer will flock to the language. 

TLDR: When contrasting Ruby vs. Python, both languages have great communities, but Python's is greater. 

Popularity

Python is extremely popular as a beginner language and almost everyone knows it by name. In contrast, Ruby is associated with Ruby on Rails which is in high demand and a frequent topic of conversation in the software development world.

TLDR: Popularity-wise, Python, and Ruby both win.

Ruby vs. Python: Side-by-Side Comparison

Now that we compared Ruby vs. Python side by side, understanding their differences and similarities, let's break down the main characteristics of each one: Ruby and Python.

What Is Ruby?

Ruby is a high-level, interpreted, general-purpose programming language. The language was created in 1995 by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto. His objective was to create an object-oriented scripting language. Other object-oriented languages of his generation were not to his liking. 

General purposes languages like Ruby are designed for writing software in multiple environments. For the most part, Ruby is used for web applications. But the language also works well for data analysis, prototyping, proof of concepts, etc. 

As an interpreted language, Ruby is almost by definition slower than compiled languages. Compiled languages are converted directly into machine code before execution. Whereas interpreted languages are not translated directly, but read and executed line by line. 

On the plus side, Ruby has multiple programming paradigms, which allow people to code in unique and helpful ways. Of course, there’s object-oriented programming which is useful for interpreting data in an intuitive way via objects. 

Ruby also allows for functional programming which centers pure functions as a means to write a program. And there is procedural programming, which utilizes a top-down approach of instructional code to reach an objective.

Dynamic typing is another asset of Ruby, permitting more lenient rules when it comes to defining variable types before their use. The result is succinct and easier to write code. However, static typing, in contrast, has the advantage of detecting type errors in a more efficient manner. 

For memory management, Ruby has garbage collection. In essence, a garbage collector performs automatic tasks related to memory allocation so developers do not have to write code. Most of this work entails storing objects that are still used in the program memory and throwing away unused objects. 

Aside from its feature set, Ruby is known for being an elegant, easy-to-write programming language. Many developers compare coding in Ruby to writing in English. 

What Are the Advantages of Ruby?

Ruby’s main advantages stem from its productive nature. Many features of its syntax and dynamic ability play into these advantages. 

  • Elegant

For many programmers, Ruby is the first language they learn. This is because Ruby is prized for its simplicity. The language is easy to learn and mirrors English. For instance, to print “Hello, World” on the screen in Ruby, you’d simply type:

puts “Hello, World”;

  • Intentional

Because Ruby was created ahead of many other languages, it will always stand out when compared to the languages it aims to be better than, like Python and Perl. Ruby is more organized than Perl and more object-oriented than Python. 

  • Easy

Metaprogramming is a feature in Ruby and many other languages where the program is able to predict and auto-write code for you based on a developer’s beginning input. This makes coding in Ruby even easier. 

  • Fast

Despite being interpreted, Ruby can still help you save time in development. Mainly, the speed at which developers write code is greatly improved. Developers who use Ruby on Rails, a popular web framework based on Ruby, report spending as much as 40% less time building applications. 

When Is the Use of Ruby Recommended?

Ruby's best use is for building web applications. You can give Ruby on Rails the credit for Ruby’s fame in this field. No web developer can go long without hearing about Ruby on Rails

For context, Ruby on Rails is a web application framework providing default structures for databases, web services, and web pages using a model-view-controller (MVC) pattern. It also stresses useful software engineering paradigms like ‘convention over configuration’ (CoC) and ‘don’t repeat yourself’ (DRY). 

Since the stable release of Ruby on Rails in 2005, the framework has had a great impact on web development, influencing later frameworks in many languages.

All that said, Ruby has the capacity to shine on a variety of platforms. You can use Ruby for many applications like e-commerce, content management, and even games.

What Companies Use Ruby?

Because of the advantages of using Ruby, many major companies have adopted the language into their tech stack. Knowing which companies use Ruby and why might give you a better understanding of which language stands out the most when it comes to Ruby vs. Python.

  • GitHub

GitHub is a repository where developers can store code and collaborate with other developers using version control. As a GitHub user, you can thank Ruby on Rails for the fundamentals of the platform. 

Sam Lambert, the database administrator for Github, maintains that Ruby helps GitHub improve their scalability. 

  • Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a website hosting a network where locals and travelers can connect. In this way, curious wanderers visiting new places can stay with locals – typically for free – and meet people in the area. 

Here, too, Ruby on Rails asserts its dominance in web development. The framework is a defining part of Couchsurfing’s tech stack.

  • Soundcloud

Soundcloud is an online music distribution platform. Users on Soundcloud can upload their own or somebody else’s music as well as share, promote, and stream the audio. 

Ruby is the language of choice for Soundcloud’s application programming interface (API) wrapper. 

An API is a software intermediary allowing different applications to communicate with each other. API wrappers are language-specific and permit the automation of easy-to-use functions via multiple APIs wrapped into one package. 

What Is Python?

Python shares similar traits with Ruby. Created only four years before Ruby, Python is an interpreted, high-level general-purpose language. The language is also dynamically typed with garbage collection. 

Designed by Guido van Rossum, Python is embedded with the philosophy of code readability. As such, code readability is emphasized in several elements of the Python programming language. 

For example, although Python is compatible with the procedural programming paradigm, it is primarily object-oriented. The purpose of this structure is to help developers write clearer, more logical code. 

Structured programming – where procedural programming is a subset of this paradigm – is another fully supported feature of Python. This programming paradigm centers clarity and quality by encouraging structured control flows like if-then-else statements and while and for loops. Python has functionality for functional programming as well. 

The use of significant whitespace is perhaps the most notable feature of Python. Generally, whitespace is characters used for spacing that do not have a value such as pressing enter, tab, or space bar on your keyboard. 

In Python, this whitespace is called ‘significant’ because it actually denotes blocks of code. Other languages tend to use curly brackets instead. While some hate Python’s whitespace, others welcome the convenience. 

Something else to be loved about Python is its robust library. Some describe Python as a  “batteries included” language because its standard library is so comprehensive.  

The Zen of Python is a document surmising the language’s core philosophies using concise and pointed language. Here are a few examples of text in the document:

  • “Beautiful is better than ugly.”
  • “Sparse is better than dense.”
  • “There should be one – and preferably only one – obvious way to do it.”
  • “If the implementation is hard to explain, it’s a bad idea.”
  • “Namespaces are one honking great idea – let’s do more of those!”

What Are the Advantages of Python?

Python is known for being both simple and far-reaching. The resulting effect is a language that is easy whilst being multi-dimensional in purpose. 

  • Extensive

The presence of third-party modules and support for vast libraries simplifies the process of adding certain features and functionality into a program for developers. The Python Package Index (PyPi), for one, has nearly 300,000 packages.

  • Easy

Like Ruby, Python is easy to learn and write. The syntax favors readability and it takes fewer lines of code to accomplish the same tasks when compared to languages like Java or C

  • Portable

You don’t need to change your code to make sure Python is compatible on different platforms. Python has high portability, meaning it will run across a variety of operating systems. 

  • Productive

User-friendly data structures like lists and dictionaries make Python more productive when writing code. Developers can focus on solving problems rather than figure out how to write code. 

When Is the Use of Python Recommended?

Just like with Ruby – which is to be expected in a Ruby vs. Python stand-off – Python is very popular for web development. As mentioned, many recent frameworks are based on the success of Ruby on Rails. 

One of such frameworks would be Django. Django is a Python-based web application framework accentuating rapid development with a model-template-view (MTV) pattern. 

Flask is another Python web framework. Because the framework does not require particular tools or libraries, Flask is classified as a microframework. 

Apart from web development, Python is also popular for data science applications like machine learning, data analysis, and data visualization. 

But above all, Python is used for basic scripting. This merely means writing small programs to automate simple tasks. For this reason, Python has gained prominence in beginner computer science classes. 

What Companies Use Python?

Several major companies use Python making the language a competitive contender for the Ruby vs. Python debate.

  • LinkedIn

LinkedIn is somewhat of an amalgamation of social networks and job boards. Both individuals and companies as a whole can sign up for LinkedIn and make professional information publicly available. 

Flask is partially responsible for LinkedIn’s creation. You can bet LinkedIn developers chose Flask because of its minimalist characterization. 

  • Netflix

If you don’t already know, Netflix is a popular streaming platform for movies and series. With a recurring monthly fee, Netflix users can have access to several thousand titles across a number of genres. 

Netflix uses Python to run chaos engineering tests and patch together the various codebases throughout their tech stack. 

  • Google

Google needs no explanation. It’s more likely than not that you’ve encountered Google in one way or another somehow. 

Python serves as one of the three of Google’s core languages, along with Go and Java. It’s not exactly clear how Google uses Python but they’ve shown official support for its usage. 

Conclusion

Python and Ruby share many characteristics to the point that it is hard to distinguish between them. They are both high-level languages with simple syntax. Both languages show dexterity with web applications but also demonstrate a wide range of uses. 

Despite their similarities, the area where these languages differ may be important to consider for scaling businesses. A close-up of Ruby vs. Python side by side shows that in some choice areas, Python actually performs better than Ruby.

Looking for qualified Python developers? Trio has professional Python developers that have been trained and vetted to do just what you need to take your business to the next level. Hire Python developers with Trio!

Cordenne Brewster

Content Marketing

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A close-up of Ruby vs. Python side by side shows that in some choice areas like machine learning, documentation, and ease of learning, Python actually performs better than Ruby.

Python is an interpreted, high-level general-purpose language. Designed by Guido van Rossum, Python is embedded with the philosophy of code readability. The use of significant whitespace is perhaps the most notable feature of Python.

Ruby is a high-level, interpreted, general-purpose programming language. The language was created in 1995 by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto. His objective was to create an object-oriented scripting language. Other object-oriented languages of his generation were not to his liking.