Which language is best, Python or Ruby?

Finding the Best Fit

Python and Ruby are both general-purpose languages, which means they can be used to build just about any type of application. Both are high-level, server-side scripting languages that are incredibly popular. Both are great choices for first languages, as well.

But which is the best fit for your development needs? It might not seem like it but this can be a challenging question to answer given the languages’ similarities. This isn’t SQL, which was created specifically for databases. Both Python and Ruby were created as a sort of “do it all” languages, and each does a remarkable job with that task.

So how do you choose which language is right for you? Let’s take a look at the specifics of each language and see if we can help draw a conclusion.

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What is Python?

Python is an interpreted, high-level language used for general-purpose development. Created by Guido van Rossum, Python was first released in 1991 and emphasizes code readability and aims to help software engineers to write clear, logical code for both small and large projects.

The most recent iteration, Python 3, was released in 2008 and was a major revision that isn’t completely backward compatible with version 2 or 1. In 2020, Python 2 was finally discontinued, so all developers had to migrate to version 3.

Unlike many programming languages, Python doesn’t require a compiler. This makes Python an incredibly efficient language to use. You can write code and then run that code directly from the command line. So if you have a file named app.py, you could simply issue the command python3 app.py to run the code. 

Even better, Python makes the process of debugging code quite simple. When you run your app, if the interpreter finds a problem in the code, it will give you a very clear indication as to what’s wrong—line by line.

This run-debug process makes Python not only efficient but user-friendly. It’s also one of the many reasons why Python is an outstanding choice for those new to programming and why it’s one of the fastest growing languages on the market. Not only is it one of the easiest languages to learn with, but it’s also very flexible.

With Python, you can build simple desktop applications, incredibly powerful web applications, and even use it to automate tasks. You might also be surprised that Python is very useful in the field of data science. Thanks to various libraries and frameworks (such as PyBrain, NumPy, and PyMySQL, Scrapy, BeauitfulScope, SciPy, TensorFlow, and Pandas), Python is perfectly capable of working with data processing, modeling, data mining, data visualization, and even AI.

In other words, Python isn’t just about creating simple text-based calculator apps for the desktop. Python can do so much more.

The Highlight: Django Framework

For anyone looking to develop web apps, Python has Django, a framework used for rapid, secure, and scalable web development. With the help of Django, you can be working with Python to create your web apps in no time. 

Django follows the MVT (Model View Template) design pattern, which is a collection of three essential components:

  • Model – a data access layer, which contains the required fields and behaviors of the data you are storing.
  • View – used to execute the business logic and interact with a model, carry data, and render a template. In other words, the View collects data from the Model.
  • Template – a presentation layer that handles the UI.

Django was designed to help developers take their web applications from concept to completion very quickly and includes plenty of extra tools to handle most of the common web developer tasks. You’ll find tools for such tasks as user authentication, content administration, site maps, and RSS feeds.

Python use cases

So how do you know if Python is right for you? If you’re looking for a simple to learn language that makes it incredibly easy to build just about any kind of application, Python might be what you’re looking for. But what types of user cases are best suited for Python? The following list should help narrow down your choice:

  • Academic and scientific programming.
  • Data-heavy websites on servers with high volume traffic.
  • Applications or websites that require fast operations with math, big data, and scientific calculations.
  • Prototyping.
  • Data analysis.
  • Web scraping.
  • Business applications.
  • Games.
  • Machine learning.
  • Desktop GUIs.
  • Audio and video applications.

Finally, if you prefer stability over change and are more conservative with your code, Python is the way to go.

Ruby Developers Logo White

What is Ruby?

Like Python, Ruby was created in the mid-1990s. Created by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, Ruby is a multiple programming paradigm language (supporting object-oriented, procedural, and functional programming). One of the key differences between Python and Ruby is a philosophical one. With Ruby, a key component is that there’s more than one way to do the same thing (whereas with Python there’s only one approach). 

But in similar fashion to Python, the goal of Ruby is to write clean, readable, and concise code. The focus of Ruby is on humans and how humans care about programming. Guiding Ruby is the Principle of least astonishment, which is a way of saying users shouldn’t be surprised, startled, or astonished at how something behaves. So when you learn how to do something in Ruby, you shouldn’t be surprised.

Ruby is a dynamic, reflective, general-purpose language used by companies like Hulu, Twitter, ZenDesk, Basecamp, and GitHub. Ruby makes it easy to write web applications, web servers, system utilities, database tools, backups, and even apps for the medical industry. Ruby was used to create the Metasploit Framework (the most widely used penetration testing framework).

Like Python, Ruby is an interpreted language, which means it doesn’t require a compiler. You write your code and run it.

The Highlight: Ruby on Rails

Rails is a very important project for Ruby. Rails (often called Ruby On Rails Or RoR) is a web framework for Ruby that includes everything you need to build web applications. Rails focuses on convention over configuration, which optimizes the framework for programmer happiness. Like Ruby, Rails relishes expressiveness and subtlety, so there’s not only more than one way to tackle a task – it welcomes the individuality of software engineers.

Unlike many frameworks, Rails is actually very beginner-friendly. Even if you’ve never programmed before, you can get up to speed with both Ruby and Rails fairly easily. You’ll be creating flexible and powerful web applications in no time.

Ruby use cases

So how do you know if Ruby is the language for you? If you’re looking for a language that is easy to use, allows for individual expression while remaining elegant and powerful, Ruby might be what you’re looking for. 

For those that like lists, here’s a short list of Ruby-friendly use cases:

  • Full-stack web development.
  • Desktop applications.
  • Secure websites.
  • Command-line tools.
  • Simulations, explorations, and R&D.
  • Programming support packages.
  • Standard libraries.
  • System utilities.
  • Static website generators.
  • Parsing data.
  • API clients.
  • Report generators.
  • Complex SaaS systems.
  • Ecommerce websites.
  • Payment gateways.

Conclusion

No matter which language you choose, you can’t go wrong with either Python or Ruby. Whether you’re looking for the best language to start your journey as a programmer, or one that places a high value on individuality, you’ll be building quality, flexible apps that can do just about anything with either Python or Ruby.

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