Ruby Wizardry - A Book Review

It all starts at the beginning.

It really is a whimsical story, about a kingdom in some trouble because of some mischievous hooligans and how this kingdom is saved by, well, you will have to read it to see.

Ruby Wizardry


This book is written by Eric Weinstein, published by “no starch press” and it is an introduction to programming for kids.

Troubles before we started

I had problems with reviewing this book, as I showed it to a young teenager, and I was not able to keep my hands on the book for any extended period of time. The book was carried everywhere, and I simply had to wait for it to find its way back on the table so I could grab it.

Normal “Kid Stuff”

Fortunately, they were off to grandma’s house this weekend and I finally got to spend some time with it, and now I see why they are fascinated with the book.

Finally, a review!

The story is fun, the code examples are relevant to the story, and Eric does not hide the documentation from you, occasionally pointing to the official documentation for more information. But he doesn’t push it on the reader, so they are welcome to explore and enjoy the book. In fact, at the end of the story, the excitement of having done all of this journey is celebrated, and additional references are presented right there to continue this journey with other resources. There is no, “OK, what can I do now? Because that was fun!” You have the additional steps laid out. No, it is just “That was fun, let’s continue!”

Eric has Style!

He has a coding style that he adheres to throughout the book, this makes the learning simpler as you aren’t questioning why things have changed. He also encourages using the Interactive Ruby (IRB) tool for exploring, as well as writing the programs in the files that you can run as well.

The progression is simple, the ‘what comes first’ obstacle is taken care of early, so you have the IRB tool and the code that you write taken care of up front. How to manage and play with your code interactively, how to explore Ruby, and about two thirds of the way through the story you find out how to require the files you write into your IRB session. Overall, a great basis for continued progress as a programmer.

The journey.

As you journey through the book, you will have progressively done increasingly “hard” things, but I don’t think you will really notice it. You will have created interactive programs, will have manipulated files, will have written the most basic web page.

One thing that I was very happy to find in this book after the first Table of Contents is the “Contents in Detail” section. Finding the review points in this book is extremely easy, and if you need to review something, you can easily find the things you are looking for.

To the future!

I was looking forward to reviewing this book, and now I am looking forward to the time when that young teenager comes up to me and says “Hey, you could write that this way!” And that time is coming up soon.

And finally…

Thank you Eric for a wonderful story, and this book will let kids realize that they can do it! Just like Byte, Compute, A.N.A.L.O.G., ROM, Antic magazines, I can see this book mentioned years to come as this generation reminisces about how they learned to program.

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