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Python vs Ruby: A Comprehensive Comparison Guide for New Programmers

Updated: at 04:45 AM

Python and Ruby are two of the most popular and powerful programming languages used today. As high-level, general-purpose languages, they can be used for a wide range of applications such as web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and scientific computing.

Both languages have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the decision between Python vs Ruby is largely based on the specific needs of a project or programmer. This comprehensive guide examines the key differences between Python and Ruby to help new programmers select the right language for their goals.

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Python and Ruby share many similarities as high-level, object-oriented scripting languages. However, they have distinct design philosophies and use cases.

Python emphasizes code readability and simplicity. Its syntax allows developers to express concepts in fewer lines of code compared to other languages. Python is easy to learn and highly versatile, making it a popular first language for newcomers to programming.

Ruby emphasizes programmer productivity and joy. Its elegant syntax resembles natural language, minimizing the “boilerplate” code required. Ruby on Rails, the popular Ruby web framework, utilizes conventions that accelerate web application development.

Understanding their differences in design, syntax, speed, use cases, and community support helps determine which language better suits your needs as a new programmer.

Brief History

Python was created by Guido van Rossum in 1991 as a general-purpose scripting language that valued code readability. It has gained widespread popularity in data science, machine learning, web development, and system automation.

Ruby was created by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto in 1995, influenced by Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp. It aims to provide flexibility and fun for the programmer. Ruby on Rails, released in 2004, drove Ruby’s popularity for building web apps.

Both languages continue to be under active development, with Python 3 and Ruby 2.5+ as the current standard stable versions.

Design Philosophy

One key difference between Python and Ruby is their underlying design philosophies:

# Example of explicit Python code

first_name = "John"
last_name = "Doe"
full_name = first_name + " " + last_name
# Example of terse Ruby code

first_name = "John"
last_name = "Doe"
full_name = "#{first_name} #{last_name}"

These differing philosophies lead to recognizable distinctions in their code and usage.

Syntax Comparison

Python and Ruby syntax have many similarities, but also some key differences:

Code Blocks

# Python code block using indentation

if x > 0:
    print("Positive number")
    print("Negative number")
# Ruby code block using end keyword

if x > 0
  puts "Positive number"
  puts "Negative number"

Object-Oriented Programming

# Python single inheritance example

class Vehicle:
  def description(self):

class Car(Vehicle):
  def wheels(self):
    print("4 wheels")

audi = Car()
audi.description() # "Vehicle"
audi.wheels() # "4 wheels"
# Ruby multiple inheritance example

class Vehicle
  def description
    puts "Vehicle"

module FourWheels
  def wheels
    puts "4 wheels"

class Car < Vehicle
  include FourWheels

audi =
audi.description # "Vehicle"
audi.wheels # "4 wheels"


numbers = [1, 2, 3]
for num in numbers:
numbers = [1, 2, 3]
numbers.each { |num| puts num }

Speed and Performance

Performance can differ based on the specific implementations and benchmarks tested. Some key comparisons:

For most common use cases, the performance differences are acceptable. But for tasks requiring heavy number crunching or CPU cycles, Python has the edge over Ruby.

Due to their design and capabilities, Python and Ruby are better suited for some domains compared to others:

Python’s Strengths

Ruby’s Strengths

Developer Community

Both languages have large, active communities supporting them:

Availability of documentation, libraries, frameworks, and development tools also play a big role in adoption. Python’s richer ecosystem gives it an edge over Ruby currently.

Example Web Application Comparison

To highlight the different programming styles, let’s examine basic web applications built with Python Flask vs Ruby Sinatra frameworks:

Python Flask App

from flask import Flask, request
app = Flask(__name__)

def index():
    return 'Hello World!'

def hello():
    name = request.args.get('name')
    return f'Hello {name}!'

if __name__ == '__main__':

This implements two routes / and /hello using the @app.route decorators. Flask provides the routing, request handling, and WSGI server capabilities.

Ruby Sinatra App

require 'sinatra'

get '/' do
  'Hello world!'

get '/hello' do
  "Hello #{params['name']}!"

The routes are defined using Sinatra’s get blocks. The params hash provides access to URL parameters. Sinatra exposes a DSL for quickly defining RESTful web services.

While both programs achieve the same goals, we can see conciseness and expressiveness emphasized more in Ruby, while Python aims for simplicity, consistency, and explicitness.

When to Use Python vs Ruby?

For new programmers looking to pick between Python and Ruby, some general guidelines apply:

Consider researching both languages in-depth to determine which resonates better with your goals.

Should I Learn Python and Ruby Together?

Learning Python and Ruby together is an effective approach for gaining exposure to two very popular multi-purpose languages. The key advantages are:

However, it can be cognitively demanding initially. Some tips to learn both effectively:


Python and Ruby share similarities as productive scripting languages but have distinct design philosophies. Python emphasizes code readability, simplicity, and broader application domains like data science and machine learning. Ruby emphasizes programmer happiness through an expressive syntax and use in web development, especially with Rails.

There is no unambiguously superior choice between the two - considerations like performance versus productivity, community support, available libraries and tools, and personal preference determine the best language for a project’s or programmer’s needs. New coders can benefit greatly from learning both languages for their capabilities, differences, and strengths.