Interview: Bruce Tate

(This interview appeared before on 15th Aug. 2006 on the PuneRuby blog).

Java is no longer the answer to every software development problem. Ruby is exploding onto the scene, just as Java did at the end of 1990s. Developers are driving the revolution, and the amazing productivity of Ruby on Rails is fueling it. So who better to talk about Ruby and Rails than the strongest proponent of Ruby, Bruce Tate.

In this interview with Satish Talim, Bruce talks about the growth of Ruby and Rails and what’s in it for us in the future.

Satish Talim>> Hello Bruce, and welcome to PuneRuby. Could you tell us a little more about yourself?

Bruce Tate>> Thanks for this opportunity. It’s good to see Ruby growing in India today. I am a consultant, author, and speaker from Austin, Texas. I’ve written two Ruby books, and five Java books. Just over a year ago, I moved away from Java, and am writing Ruby full time now. In my spare time, I’m a father of two, mountain biker, and kayaker. I hope to run my first marathon this year.

Satish Talim>> Given the choices out there, why did you select Ruby?

Bruce Tate>> Ruby is a beautiful language–one that’s much more dynamic than any other mainstream object oriented language– and a popular one. With a beautiful language, I can be more productive. With a popular one, I can put food on the table.

Ruby’s roots have a stronger theoretical foundation than Java or C++. Ruby brings us closer to the roots of object oriented programming, with concepts such as delayed binding and message passing that were popularized with Smalltalk and Self. Ruby also brings us closer to the next level of abstraction: functional programming.

Finally, Rails gives us a catalyst. It’s a fantastic framework that breaks many long-standing conventions, to dramatic effect.

Satish Talim>> How did you learn Ruby and when?

Bruce Tate>> I learned Ruby through Ruby on Rails. I used Rails on an application for a start up, and we were tremendously productive. We could do in days what it would take weeks to accomplish in Java. I’ve been hooked since then.

I’ve used Rails for applications requiring 100 to 150 tables. They are all the same kinds of applications, to a certain extent. They have demanding user interface requirements, database backing, and a new schema.

Satish Talim>> Which features of Ruby do you like the most?

Bruce Tate>> I love the syntax and dynamic typing. Beyond that, I love the rapid feedback cycle. I just make a change, save, and reload the browser. I like the metaprogramming features that let me do domain specific languages whenever I need them. Closures let me iterate over almost anything, and eliminate all of the wasted effort for tasks that manage resources, like querying a database, working with a file, or processing XML.

Satish Talim>> Do you think Ruby has the potential to be a mainstream programming language?

Bruce Tate>> Absolutely. Rails is growing faster than the flagship open source Java projects. I wrote “From Java to Ruby” to describe why a manager should take a chance on Ruby, given the right problem space.

Satish Talim>> What applications, utilities have you developed in Ruby and what platform are you running these applications on?

Bruce Tate>> Everything so far has been on *nix. All of my customer work for a year and a half has been on Rails. All of it.

Satish Talim>> Anything else you would like to share with the PuneRuby members?

Bruce Tate>> Thanks for giving me this opportunity. You can hear more of my ideas at

Satish Talim>> Thanks Bruce for sharing your views with the PuneRuby members.

Update: Ruby-Talk is discussing this interview in their forum.

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