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InfoQ Homepage News RubyKaigi 2008: Interview With Ruby Creator Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto

RubyKaigi 2008: Interview With Ruby Creator Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto

The RubyKaigi 2008, an annual conference hosted by the Japan Ruby Kaigi 2008 Executive Committee, has been held in Tsukuba, Japan from June 20 through 22.   This news article is based on a translation adapted from InfoQ Japan.

This year's conference theme was "Diversity". Today we're seeing the emergence of not only Matz's Ruby interpreter but also a number of other projects, such as JRuby or IronRuby, that are mostly compatible to Matz's Ruby. We're also seeing a spreading adoption by enterprise users, which is why an additional Business Day on Friday had been introduced.

A discussion between Ruby's father Yukihiro "matz" Matsumoto and Eihiro Saishu about "How can we use Ruby within enterprise systems?" was held at this first day of the conference. Eihiro Saishu is the CEO of EC-One, a software company that builds systems using Java and Ruby. He is also the founder of the Ruby Business Commons, a community that promotes the use of Ruby within enterprise systems.

The first discussion topic was about the reasons for the low adoption of Ruby in the enterprise space. Some large companies are reluctant to permit developers to use Ruby because of its perceived novelty and uncertain future.

Eihiro Saishu says: "To this day systems have been built with Java, but once I used Ruby I've noticed significant change in the engineers' motivation and the productivity increased. The sales value of our systems built with Ruby is now estimated to be nearly 4 million yen [about 37,500 U.S. dollars]."

Matz commented that "Users in urban areas such as Tokyo are fussy over the languages they use, whereas users in local cities such as my hometown Shimane usually don't show strong preferences on a language if it can meet their needs, and unless they have any special requests, I've been building systems with Ruby for 10 years now."

Matz and Eihiro Saishu conclude that performance problems using Ruby systems usually originate from other sources, such as slow connections to databases or JavaScript, but that there are no problems with using Ruby per se. Matz also adds that "it is disappointing that people disregard Ruby as being a slow language without further examination". However, he also admitted that "we can't deny the fact that the Ruby language is slower compared to other languages such as Java."

The role of the Ruby engineer was discussed next, beginning with the recent launch of the Ruby Association Certified Ruby Programmer certification. The first exam level, Silver, is now available and will be followed by higher levels such as Gold and Platinum in the future.

Matz says that "in fact, we don't need any exams", but continues that "it is reasonable to have exams to measure our competency objectively". Eihiro Saishu adds: "If the number of the engineers using Ruby increases, the number of programmers using Ruby at work will increase as well. This means that the relative value of a Ruby programmer will decrease." Matz points out that companies in the US are making huge amounts of money with the productivity boost Ruby gives them, and that it's about time that Japanese companies are starting to take advantage of that as well.

Matz believes that Ruby is currently in the position Java was ten years ago, when people where really exited about it. "But it seems that this excitement is now fading. I look forward to improving Ruby and increasing its "pros" while avoiding some of the "cons" that affected Java, ensuring it to be something that keeps tickling geeks' minds".

The first day also held the introduction of sponsored sessions as well as the community session with Chad Fowler and Rich Kilmer.

The second part of our RubyKaigi 2008 coverage targets the planned Ruby standardization, the 1.9 roadmap and planned features for future Ruby versions.

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