Ruby: More Than A Fun Programming Language

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By Elaine Tsai (Organizer, Hack Nights for Beginners) The Ruby programming community in San Francisco is phenomenal. While there may be a shortage of Ruby programmers in the Bay Area, there is no shortage of people interested and excited about the opportunity to learn.

I attended my first Ruby on Rails event a couple of months ago, a RailsBridge “Outreach for Women” workshop. Not knowing what to expect, I came with an open mind, an excitement to meet other female programmers, and finally, an opportunity to learn some programming in an environment where I wasn’t the only female with absolutely no background knowledge. The event was beyond awesome; there was a great group of women working together on an interesting app and plenty of friendly volunteers there to help. I was hooked.

Grasping for more opportunities to learn programming, I was told to check out Blazing Cloud. With the scholarship sponsored by Heroku, I got the chance to work with another wonderful group of aspiring Rubyist. In just six weeks, we went from printing “Hello World” to playing with Sinatra on our Heroku web server. Brian Jenkins, our hilarious teacher always keep class interesting, rewarding us with toys when we completed homework and showing us how to model arrays and variables with rulers, post-it notes, and notecards. What I soon discovered was that I wasn’t just interested in learning to code, it was the people in the Ruby community that added new level of fun.

Learning Ruby with a community like this and just seeing the number of people interested in learning to program inspired me to join others in fostering this amazing community.

With the help of Caleb Clausen, we started Hack Night for Beginners. Held twice a month, experienced Rubyists would get together with beginners, both with and without past programming experience, to work on a simple Ruby Quiz.

Like all the other Ruby programming events, turnout rates were phenomenal and the waitlists themselves usually exceed the attendance capacity. Aspiring Rubyists showed up after work, refreshed to meet new people and learn something new.

If you asked me which programming language would be the best to learn, I would say Ruby. Because besides learning an interesting, useful new language, there’s an awesome and supportive community.

*Special thanks to Heroku for sponsoring a Blazing Cloud scholarship!

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Elaine Tsai is excited about well designed, disruptive innovations that drive social change. When she is not busy learning to code in Ruby or organizing “Hack Nights for Beginners”, she is supporting socially-conscious organizations. Previously, Elaine founded the CA$H Coalition chapter at Bowdoin College, a volunteer income tax assistance program, and served in AmeriCorps with New Sector Alliance. Visit her at about.me/ElaineTsai Follow her on Twitter at @etsaii.