Interview: Shashank Date


(This interview appeared before on 28th Aug. 2006 on the PuneRuby blog).

Today we talk to our own Ruby Guru, Shashank Date.

Satish Talim>> Hello Shashank, and welcome to PuneRuby. Could you tell us something about yourself – your background; where you are based…?

Shashank Date>> Unlike the other gurus interviewed before me, I hail from Pune and am glad to be an active member of PuneRuby. I did my Masters (MCA) in Computer Applications from Pune University in 1987 and worked in various organizations in India (notably C-DAC) till 1994. I immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 and have been in Overland Park, Kansas since then. For the past 12 years, I have worked as a consultant to various Fortune 500 companies. I am curently a freelancer (thanks to Ruby on Rails) and also the founder of Reevik Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a Pune based company also focused on web application development and mobile application development.

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

Shashank Date>> Back in March 2002, I was looking for a scripting solution to address a temporary requirement of writing a query parallelizer for a (closed source) system I was working on. I accidently came across the PickAxe book and found a very neat thread based solution which almost matched my needs. I immediately set forth to investigate further and as I dug deeper into Ruby, fell in love with the language and the community. I did not feel like investigating more options to choose from.

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

Shashank Date>> Most of the Ruby I Iearnt is self taught with kind, patient support from many gurus in the community (too many to mention), often no less than Matz himself. I also owe a lot to the authors of these fine books: “Programming Ruby” (a.k.a PickAxe), “The Ruby Way” and “Learn Ruby in 21 days”.

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

Shashank Date>> Blocks, dynamism and syntax sugar make Ruby shine!

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

Shashank Date>> Purely from the technical standpoint, absolutely! But for a language to become mainstream, there needs to be a socio-political pressure. Fortunately, that pressure has been built up by the pre-eminent web application framework “Ruby on Rails”, and judging by the number of companies both big and small looking at it seriously makes me believe that the tipping point has been achieved.

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

Shashank Date>> All my Ruby applications and utilities have been on the Windows platform out of necessity, not choice. As mentioned earlier, I had developed a library which helped parallelizing queries to MS SQL Server 2000 which remains closed source. I have also written a library to shallow parse t-SQL, a utility to interface the Windows scheduler, a library to interface Lego Mindstorms Robotics Kit, all of which are in the open source on RubyForge. I am member of the one-click installer team for Windows and the win32-utils team, both of which are one of the most downloaded packages in the Ruby world.

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

Shashank Date>> Yes, back in May 2005 when I had visited Pune, I had lamented the fact that there is no PuneRuby Users Group and discussed the idea of sponsoring such an activity. I am thrilled to see that you spearheaded that effort and now claim to have the largest Ruby Users Group around. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

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

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