The Pickaxe book, named for the tool on the cover, is the definitive reference to Ruby, a highly-regarded, fully object-oriented programming language. This Second Edition has more than 200 pages of new content, and substantial enhancements to the original, covering all the new and improved language features of Ruby 1.8 and standard library modules.

What Version of Ruby are You Using?

If you want to use Ruby 1.9, or Ruby 2.0, then check out our new book Programming Ruby 1.9 & 2.0.

Alternatively, if you want to continue to use Ruby 1.8, then use the book on this page.

For various technical reasons, the eBook version of this edition is a PDF only: epub and mobi versions of this edition are NOT be available.

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About this Book

  • 864 pages
  • Published:
  • Release: P10.0 (2006-09-20)
  • ISBN: 978-0-9745-1405-5

Would you like to go from first idea to working code much, much faster? Do you currently spend more time satisfying the compiler instead of your clients or end users? Are you frustrated with demanding languages that seem to get in your way, instead of getting the work done? If so, then we’ve got a language and book for you!

Ruby is a fully object-oriented language, much like the classic object-oriented language, Smalltalk. Like Smalltalk, it is dynamically typed (as opposed to Java or C++), but unlike Smalltalk, Ruby features the same conveniences found in modern scripting languages such as Perl and Python.

The combination of the power of a pure object-oriented language with the convenience of a scripting language makes Ruby a favorite tool of intelligent, forward-thinking programmers.

The Pickaxe contains four major sections:

  • An acclaimed tutorial on using Ruby.
  • The definitive reference to the language.
  • Complete documentation of all built-in classes, modules, and methods.
  • Complete descriptions of all 98 standard libraries.

Readers of the First Edition will appreciate the new and expanded content, including: enhanced coverage of installation, packaging, documenting Ruby source code, threading and synchronization, and enhancing Ruby’s capabilities using C-language extensions. Programming for the world-wide web is easy in Ruby with new chapters on XML/RPC, SOAP, distributed ruby, templating systems and other web services. There’s even a new chapter on unit testing.

This is the definitive reference manual for Ruby, including a description of all the standard library modules, a complete reference to all built-in classes and modules (including more than 250 significant changes since the First Edition). Coverage of other features has grown tremendously, including details on how to harness the sophisticated capabilities of irb, so programmers can dynamically examine and experiment with running code.

  • The definitive reference manual for Ruby programmers.
  • Up-to-date and expanded for Ruby version 1.8.
  • Complete documentation of all built-in classes, modules, and methods.
  • Complete descriptions of all 98 standard libraries.
  • 200+ pages of new content in this edition.
  • NEW: Learn more about Ruby’s web tools, unit testing, and programming philosophy.

What You Need

  • This book assumes you have a basic understanding of object-oriented programming.
  • In general, Ruby programmers tend to favor the the command line for running their code, and they tend to use text editors rather than IDEs.
  • Ruby runs on Windows, Linux, and Macs.

Contents and Extracts

About the Author

Dave Thomas is a cornerstone of the Ruby community, and is personally responsible for many of its innovative directions and initiatives. He and original co-author Andy Hunt are founders of the Pragmatic Programmers and the Pragmatic Bookshelf. Chad Fowler is co-director of Ruby Central, Inc., and remains an active, driving force in the Ruby community.

Upcoming Author Events

  • 2014-09-25: Dave Thomas
    Discussion on the evolution of the agility movement (GOTO Copenhagen)
  • 2014-09-29: Dave Thomas
    Discussion on the evolution of the agility movement (GOTO Aarhus)
  • 2014-11-17: Dave Thomas
    Advanced Ruby Course (Skillsmatter, London)

Comments and Reviews

  • Ruby is one of those great languages that takes an afternoon to start using, and years (maybe a lifetime) to master. In C, I’m always having to work around the limitations of the language; in Ruby, I’m always discovering a neater, cleaner, more efficient way to do things. Programming Ruby is the essential reference to the Ruby language. More than just teaching you the syntax, it teaches you the spirit and the feel of the language.

    —Ben Giddings
  • The best reason to learn a new programming language is to learn to think differently. The best way to learn to think the Ruby way is to read Programming Ruby. Several years ago, with the first edition of this book, I did just that. Since then, I’ve had a constant stream of enjoyable Ruby programming experiences. This is due in no insignificant part to the quality of the source from which I learned the language. I’m not the only person I’ve heard say that every language should have a book like this.

    —Chad Fowler Co-director Ruby Central, Inc.
  • This book changed my life. Sounds rather clich’ed, but it’s the truth. After six years and 300,000 lines of Java code, I needed a change. That change occurred upon reading the first edition of this book. With the support of a solid community and ever growing foundation of superb libraries, I founded a company that largely profits from applying Ruby to solve real-world problems. Ruby is ready for primetime, and this new version of the PickAxe will show a waiting world what a gem Ruby really is.

    —Rich Kilmer President & CEO InfoEther LLC
  • From the ~30 Minutes I spent so far looking at it, it might be the best technical book I have ever read -Kudos!

    —Ferdinand Svehla
  • hot damn, what a great book ;)

    —William Sheehan