Ruby's vocal minority

Ruby is a great programming language, but it's not changing the world anytime soon.

Esther Schindler over at CIO.com does a great job picking apart some recent data on Ruby adoption. The (Koders.com) data, which is gleaned from language-specific searches on its code repository site, suggests that Ruby interest is up by a factor of 20 since 2004.

However, as Schindler points out, the Koders.com data may simply reveal the obvious (i.e., the Ruby community is vocal) or the not-so-pleasant (i.e., perhaps Ruby users have lots of need to look for information because of problems with Ruby).

Ruby use really isn't all that much. According to Evans Data, which asks developers twice a year about their favored programming languages, only eleven percent of North American developers use Ruby today, for any part of their work...About two thirds use JavaScript in any guise, just for comparison, but somehow that doesn't generate the same kind of passion...

[I]t also might mean that Ruby developers need more help than others do..., whether because the existing software is hard to understand or because their shops don't have a lot of existing in-house expertise. It might mean that there's so much easily-found JavaScript open-source code that they don't need to head to a dedicated search engine for it. Maybe, in their enthusiasm for all things Ruby, they just like to look at code examples.

So maybe Ruby is on a roll, or maybe it's not. The Koders.com data is inconclusive on this point. All we really know is that the Ruby community is vibrant and vocal.

But Ruby isn't about to take over the enterprise, where most of the money in software still resides. Java and .Net still rule the enterprise roost. Along with the imperfect Koders.com data, O'Reilly Media's book data points to an upsurge in Ruby development, but we're a long ways off from massive enterprise adoption of Ruby, at least in any way that threatens Java developers.

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