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Ruby vs Scala: What are the differences?

Developers describe Ruby as "A dynamic, interpreted, open source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity". Ruby is a language of careful balance. Its creator, Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, blended parts of his favorite languages (Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp) to form a new language that balanced functional programming with imperative programming. On the other hand, Scala is detailed as "A pure-bred object-oriented language that runs on the JVM". Scala is an acronym for “Scalable Language”. This means that Scala grows with you. You can play with it by typing one-line expressions and observing the results. But you can also rely on it for large mission critical systems, as many companies, including Twitter, LinkedIn, or Intel do. To some, Scala feels like a scripting language. Its syntax is concise and low ceremony; its types get out of the way because the compiler can infer them.

Ruby and Scala can be primarily classified as "Languages" tools.

"Programme friendly", "Quick to develop" and "Great community" are the key factors why developers consider Ruby; whereas "Static typing", "Jvm" and "Pattern-matching" are the primary reasons why Scala is favored.

Ruby and Scala are both open source tools. Ruby with 15.9K GitHub stars and 4.25K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Scala with 11.8K GitHub stars and 2.75K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, Ruby has a broader approval, being mentioned in 2530 company stacks & 1140 developers stacks; compared to Scala, which is listed in 437 company stacks and 324 developer stacks.

Advice on Ruby and Scala
Needs advice
on
Ruby
and
JavaScript

I'm new to development, and I've been studying JavaScript and Ruby concurrently, but I'm to a point now where I should really be focusing my effort into learning one language. I'd like a solid foundation and understanding, so that I can move forward with confidence. Everywhere I go, I keep hearing that RoR is a dying breed. However, I really have enjoyed Ruby and Rails...a LOT. Its approachable, fun, and readability is great. I just don't want to set myself up for failure by saddling myself in with a stack that will take me nowhere. What is your opinion on the future of RoR and would it be foolish for me to invest too much time in learning it over others?

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Replies (6)
Julien DeFrance
Principal Software Engineer at Tophatter · | 7 upvotes · 39.5K views
Recommends
Ruby

Ruby on Rails is far from being dead. In fact, this is a very popular choice in early-stage startups, given how fast and easily it allows them to launch their product and iterate on it.

Even at more mature companies, you'll still find a ton of opportunities. Not for internal tools or legacy codebases, but for actual production workloads: web apps, APIs, etc...

Some may tell you that Ruby doesn't scale, but is it really Ruby that doesn't scale, or the code they wrote?

Languages have trends. Sometimes, recruiters will try to take you one way or another to meet their own agenda. Don't always listen to what you hear. Long live Ruby! Long live Rails!

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Recommends
Ruby

You can’t directly compare RnR and Javascript, since the first is a framework (Ruby would be the language), and Javascript is a language. RnR even uses quite an amount of Javascript. I think that Ruby, and Rails, are design by improving on previous languages, and shifting the perspective from speed to readability and general developer friendliness. Opposed to that, Javascript did not have any design goals at all, and seems to be repeating the errors of all language designs that existed before. “Knowing Javascript” would not be a selling point to me when hiring someone, there should be mentioned specific javascript frameworks. And I’d always try to find someone who has experience in multiple languages. So my advice is to to learn RnR first, you get a head start, Javascript will just come along with it. And you can distinct yourself from other people that claim web development knowledge because they have done one javascript tutorial :-)

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Ekapob Ukritnukun
Software Engineer at App47, Inc. · | 4 upvotes · 34.3K views
Recommends
Ruby
JavaScript

I know I'm cheating by recommending both, but that's because I don't think you can go wrong either way.

I've been working with RoR full-time for the past 3.5 years and I really enjoy it. Compared to JavaScript, it's so much easier to read which is amazing from a team collaboration perspective. As for the perception that it's dead, when I recently started looking for new opportunities, I received probably an average of 10-15 calls a week from recruiters looking for people with RoR experience. Also, if you look around for average wages of developers of different languages, Ruby is fairly high up there (higher than JavaScript if I recall correctly), probably because there are fewer of us around and we can command a premium.

However, that said, if your goal is to find a full-time engineering position quickly, then JavaScipt certainly is the flavor of the month and any product with a frontend component will need it. Even our enterprise SaaS platform which didn't use a frontend framework (React, Angular, Vue, etc...) required us to integrate JS packages and write custom ones. JavaScript is probably more versatile than Ruby at the moment and it seems like new frameworks are being written for it all the time, but remember that Ruby was also the preferred language by almost all companies 5-10 years ago.

At the end of the day, I would go with the language that you enjoy writing the most as you'll be using it a lot in your workplace. If you aren't having fun at work, that's a lot of time spent suffering.

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Leonardo Ribeiro
Software Developer Consultant at Scalable Path · | 4 upvotes · 34.3K views
Recommends
Ruby
JavaScript

One of the things that we I often hear since I started programming, is that languages will die. Ruby and JavaScript are both one of the most popular languages today. And popular languages just doesn’t go to the top and die.

So, F*** what people say about languages dying. Go ahead and learn both, or choose one to learn. But also learn data structures, design patterns and testing. This is basic for awesome developers and a lot are missing that.

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pascal carrié
developper at self-employed · | 4 upvotes · 34.5K views
Recommends
Stimulus
Rails

ruby got better and better, rails is outstanding. Listen David Heinemeier Hansson : https://corecursive.com/045-david-heinemeier-hansson-software-contrarian I recommend you to read Otis Meyer https://www.informit.com/store/practical-object-oriented-design-an-agile-primer-using-9780134445601#largeCover and https://eloquentjavascript.net/ Don't bother what's they say, just enjoy programming

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Joost Baaij
Internet creator. at Space Babies · | 3 upvotes · 16.7K views
Recommends
at

Yo Matt,

I've been in the Ruby on Rails game for twenty years. For the last ten, Rails has been declared deceased. ;) But in reality, Rails is still going strong. The jobs are highly paid and fun. All the pros you list are valid. Yes it is a beautiful language, the OO makes sense, it's dynamic and expressive, and the ecosystem is top shelf. What's to dislike? There are a lot of Rails websites out there. And new ones get created every day too.

Now, to address the elephant in the room....

Ruby is quirky. Since the syntax is pretty different from PHP, and core developers being opinionated, some people just see drama. When Node.JS got slightly usable, they moved over to that. Node.JS is very c/PHP-like after all in its syntax. Many engineering managers will just select the ecosystem that is biggest. Node.JS is a lot bigger. But if you don't care about going a little off the beaten path sometimes, Ruby in my opinion still, after all this time, gives me joy when I use it.

Also important: to this day, I can build everything I want. Ruby, Rails and many gems are being actively maintained. Security vulnerabilities are discovered and corrected. New developments still find their way into the language. For myself, I know that the anemic JS standard library would just frustrate me to no end.... every wheel is invented time and again. Ruby's standard library isn't as voluminous, but it's a lot more diverse and useful.

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Needs advice
on
Scala
Node.js
and
Go

Finding the best server-side tool for building a personal information organizer that focuses on performance, simplicity, and scalability.

performance and scalability get a prototype going fast by keeping codebase simple find hosting that is affordable and scales well (Java/Scala-based ones might not be affordable)

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Replies (1)
David Annez
Head of Engineering at loveholidays · | 4 upvotes · 116.4K views

I've picked Node.js here but honestly it's a toss up between that and Go around this. It really depends on your background and skillset around "get something going fast" for one of these languages. Based on not knowing that I've suggested Node because it can be easier to prototype quickly and built right is performant enough. The scaffolding provided around Node.js services (Koa, Restify, NestJS) means you can get up and running pretty easily. It's important to note that the tooling surrounding this is good also, such as tracing, metrics et al (important when you're building production ready services).

You'll get more scalability and perf from go, but balancing them out I would say that you'll get pretty far with a well built Node.JS service (our entire site with over 1.5k requests/m scales easily and holds it's own with 4 pods in production.

Without knowing the scale you are building for and the systems you are using around it it's hard to say for certain this is the right route.

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Decisions about Ruby and Scala
Chose
Python
over
Scala

I am working in the domain of big data and machine learning. I am helping companies with bringing their machine learning models to the production. In many projects there is a tendency to port Python, PySpark code to Scala and Scala Spark.

This yields to longer time to market and a lot of mistakes due to necessity to understand and re-write the code. Also many libraries/apis that data scientists/machine learning practitioners use are not available in jvm ecosystem.

Simply, refactoring (if necessary) and organising the code of the data scientists by following best practices of software development is less error prone and faster comparing to re-write in Scala.

Pipeline orchestration tools such as Luigi/Airflow is python native and fits well to this picture.

I have heard some arguments against Python such as, it is slow, or it is hard to maintain due to its dynamically typed language. However cost/benefit of time consumed porting python code to java/scala alone would be enough as a counter-argument. ML pipelines rarerly contains a lot of code (if that is not the case, such as complex domain and significant amount of code, then scala would be a better fit).

In terms of performance, I did not see any issues with Python. It is not the fastest runtime around but ML applications are rarely time-critical (majority of them is batch based).

I still prefer Scala for developing APIs and for applications where the domain contains complex logic.

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Ing. Alvaro Rodríguez Scelza
Software Systems Engineer at Ripio · | 11 upvotes · 132.7K views

I was considering focusing on learning RoR and looking for a work that uses those techs.

After some investigation, I decided to stay with C# .NET:

  • It is more requested on job positions (7 to 1 in my personal searches average).

  • It's been around for longer.

  • it has better documentation and community.

  • One of Ruby advantages (its amazing community gems, that allows to quickly build parts of your systems by merely putting together third party components) gets quite complicated to use and maintain in huge applications, where building and reusing your own components may become a better approach.

  • Rail's front end support is starting to waver.

  • C# .NET code is far easier to understand, debug and maintain. Although certainly not easier to learn from scratch.

  • Though Rails has an excellent programming speed, C# tends to get the upper hand in long term projects.

I would avise to stick to rails when building small projects, and switching to C# for more long term ones.

Opinions are welcome!

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Timm Stelzer
Software Engineer at Flexperto GmbH · | 18 upvotes · 239.1K views

We have a lot of experience in JavaScript, writing our services in NodeJS allows developers to transition to the back end without any friction, without having to learn a new language. There is also the option to write services in TypeScript, which adds an expressive type layer. The semi-shared ecosystem between front and back end is nice as well, though specifically NodeJS libraries sometimes suffer in quality, compared to other major languages.

As for why we didn't pick the other languages, most of it comes down to "personal preference" and historically grown code bases, but let's do some post-hoc deduction:

Go is a practical choice, reasonably easy to learn, but until we find performance issues with our NodeJS stack, there is simply no reason to switch. The benefits of using NodeJS so far outweigh those of picking Go. This might change in the future.

PHP is a language we're still using in big parts of our system, and are still sometimes writing new code in. Modern PHP has fixed some of its issues, and probably has the fastest development cycle time, but it suffers around modelling complex asynchronous tasks, and (on a personal note) lack of support for writing in a functional style.

We don't use Python, Elixir or Ruby, mostly because of personal preference and for historic reasons.

Rust, though I personally love and use it in my projects, would require us to specifically hire for that, as the learning curve is quite steep. Its web ecosystem is OK by now (see https://www.arewewebyet.org/), but in my opinion, it is still no where near that of the other web languages. In other words, we are not willing to pay the price for playing this innovation card.

Haskell, as with Rust, I personally adore, but is simply too esoteric for us. There are problem domains where it shines, ours is not one of them.

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Andrew Carpenter
Chief Software Architect at Xelex Digital, LLC · | 16 upvotes · 193.4K views

In 2015 as Xelex Digital was paving a new technology path, moving from ASP.NET web services and web applications, we knew that we wanted to move to a more modular decoupled base of applications centered around REST APIs.

To that end we spent several months studying API design patterns and decided to use our own adaptation of CRUD, specifically a SCRUD pattern that elevates query params to a more central role via the Search action.

Once we nailed down the API design pattern it was time to decide what language(s) our new APIs would be built upon. Our team has always been driven by the right tool for the job rather than what we know best. That said, in balancing practicality we chose to focus on 3 options that our team had deep experience with and knew the pros and cons of.

For us it came down to C#, JavaScript, and Ruby. At the time we owned our infrastructure, racks in cages, that were all loaded with Windows. We were also at a point that we were using that infrastructure to it's fullest and could not afford additional servers running Linux. That's a long way of saying we decided against Ruby as it doesn't play nice on Windows.

That left us with two options. We went a very unconventional route for deciding between the two. We built MVP APIs on both. The interfaces were identical and interchangeable. What we found was easily quantifiable differences.

We were able to iterate on our Node based APIs much more rapidly than we were our C# APIs. For us this was owed to the community coupled with the extremely dynamic nature of JS. There were tradeoffs we considered, latency was (acceptably) higher on requests to our Node APIs. No strong types to protect us from ourselves, but we've rarely found that to be an issue.

As such we decided to commit resources to our Node APIs and push it out as the core brain of our new system. We haven't looked back since. It has consistently met our needs, scaling with us, getting better with time as continually pour into and expand our capabilities.

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Thomas Miller
Talent Co-Ordinator at Tessian · | 16 upvotes · 94.2K views

In December we successfully flipped around half a billion monthly API requests from our Ruby on Rails application to some new Python 3 applications. Our Head of Engineering has written a great article as to why we decided to transition from Ruby on Rails to Python 3! Read more about it in the link below.

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We needed to incorporate Big Data Framework for data stream analysis, specifically Apache Spark / Apache Storm. The three options of languages were most suitable for the job - Python, Java, Scala.

The winner was Python for the top of the class, high-performance data analysis libraries (NumPy, Pandas) written in C, quick learning curve, quick prototyping allowance, and a great connection with other future tools for machine learning as Tensorflow.

The whole code was shorter & more readable which made it easier to develop and maintain.

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Mike Fiedler
Enterprise Architect at Warby Parker · | 3 upvotes · 66.2K views

When I was evaluating languages to write this app in, I considered either Python or JavaScript at the time. I find Ruby very pleasant to read and write, and the Ruby community has built out a wide variety of test tools and approaches, helping e deliver better software faster. Along with Rails, and the Ruby-first Heroku support, this was an easy decision.

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Pros of Ruby
Pros of Scala
  • 600
    Programme friendly
  • 533
    Quick to develop
  • 488
    Great community
  • 467
    Productivity
  • 430
    Simplicity
  • 272
    Open source
  • 234
    Meta-programming
  • 202
    Powerful
  • 157
    Blocks
  • 138
    Powerful one-liners
  • 66
    Flexible
  • 56
    Easy to learn
  • 48
    Easy to start
  • 40
    Maintainability
  • 36
    Lambdas
  • 30
    Procs
  • 19
    Fun to write
  • 19
    Diverse web frameworks
  • 11
    Reads like English
  • 9
    Rails
  • 8
    Makes me smarter and happier
  • 7
    Elegant syntax
  • 6
    Very Dynamic
  • 5
    Programmer happiness
  • 5
    Matz
  • 4
    Generally fun but makes you wanna cry sometimes
  • 4
    Fun and useful
  • 3
    Friendly
  • 3
    Object Oriented
  • 3
    There are so many ways to make it do what you want
  • 2
    Easy packaging and modules
  • 2
    Primitive types can be tampered with
  • 2
    Elegant code
  • 188
    Static typing
  • 179
    Pattern-matching
  • 177
    Jvm
  • 172
    Scala is fun
  • 138
    Types
  • 95
    Concurrency
  • 88
    Actor library
  • 86
    Solve functional problems
  • 83
    Open source
  • 80
    Solve concurrency in a safer way
  • 44
    Functional
  • 23
    Generics
  • 23
    Fast
  • 18
    It makes me a better engineer
  • 17
    Syntactic sugar
  • 13
    Scalable
  • 10
    First-class functions
  • 10
    Type safety
  • 9
    Interactive REPL
  • 8
    Expressive
  • 7
    SBT
  • 6
    Implicit parameters
  • 6
    Case classes
  • 4
    Used by Twitter
  • 4
    JVM, OOP and Functional programming, and static typing
  • 4
    Rapid and Safe Development using Functional Programming
  • 4
    Object-oriented
  • 3
    Functional Proframming
  • 2
    Spark
  • 2
    Beautiful Code
  • 2
    Safety
  • 2
    Growing Community
  • 1
    DSL
  • 1
    Rich Static Types System and great Concurrency support
  • 1
    Naturally enforce high code quality
  • 1
    Akka Streams
  • 1
    Akka
  • 1
    Reactive Streams
  • 1
    Easy embedded DSLs
  • 1
    Mill build tool
  • 0
    Freedom to choose the right tools for a job

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Cons of Ruby
Cons of Scala
  • 7
    Memory hog
  • 7
    Really slow if you're not really careful
  • 3
    Nested Blocks can make code unreadable
  • 2
    Encouraging imperative programming
  • 1
    Ambiguous Syntax, such as function parentheses
  • 10
    Slow compilation time
  • 6
    Multiple ropes and styles to hang your self
  • 4
    Too few developers available
  • 3
    Complicated subtyping
  • 2
    My coworkers using scala are racist against other stuff

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What is Ruby?

Ruby is a language of careful balance. Its creator, Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, blended parts of his favorite languages (Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp) to form a new language that balanced functional programming with imperative programming.

What is Scala?

Scala is an acronym for “Scalable Language”. This means that Scala grows with you. You can play with it by typing one-line expressions and observing the results. But you can also rely on it for large mission critical systems, as many companies, including Twitter, LinkedIn, or Intel do. To some, Scala feels like a scripting language. Its syntax is concise and low ceremony; its types get out of the way because the compiler can infer them.

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What are some alternatives to Ruby and Scala?
Python
Python is a general purpose programming language created by Guido Van Rossum. Python is most praised for its elegant syntax and readable code, if you are just beginning your programming career python suits you best.
JavaScript
JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.
PHP
Fast, flexible and pragmatic, PHP powers everything from your blog to the most popular websites in the world.
Java
Java is a programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. There are lots of applications and websites that will not work unless you have Java installed, and more are created every day. Java is fast, secure, and reliable. From laptops to datacenters, game consoles to scientific supercomputers, cell phones to the Internet, Java is everywhere!
Groovy
It is a powerful multi-faceted programming language for the JVM platform. It supports a spectrum of programming styles incorporating features from dynamic languages such as optional and duck typing, but also static compilation and static type checking at levels similar to or greater than Java through its extensible static type checker. It aims to greatly increase developer productivity with many powerful features but also a concise, familiar and easy to learn syntax.
See all alternatives