The open source Ruby language, founded by developer Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto and released in 1995, has become a staple among programming languages. It has been used by companies like Twitter and serves as the basis of the popular Ruby on Rails Web application framework. The dynamic language, says IDC analyst Al Hilwa, is regarded as very elegant and capable, mostly in combination with Ruby on Rails. In developing Ruby, Matsuomoto blended parts of several languages -- including Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp -- to build a language with both functional and imperative programming capabilities.
In an interview with InfoWorld.com, Matsumoto cites his intention to make Ruby more prominent in mobile computing and details the history of the language.
InfoWorld: Why did you invent Ruby?
Matsumoto: Well, I was a programming guy since I was 15, and I have been always interested in programming languages in general. I majored in computer science and studied programming languages. After that, I really wanted my own programming language. In the beginning, it was mostly designed as a scripting language. Back in 1995, many people considered object-oriented programming too much for scripting. [But] I really wanted my programming language to be object-oriented.
InfoWorld: So you succeeded in combining object-oriented programming with scripting?
Matsumoto: Yes. It was quite remarkable at that time.
InfoWorld: Did you expect the kind of success that Ruby has had?
Matsumoto: Not at all.
InfoWorld: What features will be added to the Ruby language in the near future? What are your goals for the language moving forward?
Matsumoto: My goal is to make programmers happy. So currently, I think I was successful [at making] Web programmers happy. So I want to help more programmers, like in the embedding field -- the small-device programmers, or the high-performance computing programmers. Like supercomputers.
InfoWorld: So you want to extend Ruby to small devices and high-performance computing? Do you see that happening any time soon?
Matsumoto: I'm currently working on an alternative subset or dialect of Ruby for the small devices. I'm going to make it public early next year. Of course, mobile computing is the way to go, so that's one of the reasons I focus on the Ruby dialect working on the smaller devices.
InfoWorld: You think Ruby is going to make a big impact on smaller devices?
Matsumoto. I guess so, yes.
InfoWorld: What's the future for Ruby in cloud computing?
Matsumoto: The future is bright. One reason is that Ruby is very strong in the Web industry, and the cloud is a Web industry.
InfoWorld: What about Ruby for high-performance computing?
Matsumoto: A professor at the University of Tokyo has a government grant to research Ruby on high-performance computing, so I'm expecting his result.
InfoWorld: What are the main advantages of programming in Ruby?