Hendra Nicholas I am a software engineer, consultant and CEO at 41studio currently living in West Java, Indonesia. My interests range from programming to sport. I am also interested in entrepreneurship, technology, and design.

Ruby on Rails vs Python : which one is the best?

5 min read

Ruby on Rails vs Python : which one is the best?

Python and Ruby are among some of the most popular programming languages for developing websites, web-based apps, and web services.

In many ways, the two languages have a lot in common. Visually they are quite similar, and both provide programmers with high-level, object-oriented coding, an interactive shell, standard libraries, and persistence support. However, Python and Ruby are worlds apart in their approach to solving problems because their syntax and philosophies vary greatly, primarily because of their respective histories.

Which one to implement for web development requires some thought because all languages have strengths and weaknesses and your decision will have consequences.

What is Python?

Python is inspired by a multitude of languages, including C/C++, Java, Perl, Lisp, and ICON. Google and Youtube are two famous Python-built websites. Python is conservative by nature and detests Ruby’s ‘many ways of doing the same thing’ philosophy. Instead, it believes there is only one best way to do a particular thing, and language should embrace the best way. Resulting in a language strict on indentation and layout, even the amount of whitespace to use. These dictates come across as stifling to Ruby followers. Nevertheless, this disciplined philosophy has resulted in Python turning out to be easy to learn and extremely readable.

Advantages of Python

  • Extensive Support Libraries

It provides large standard libraries that include the areas like string operations, Internet, web service tools, operating system interfaces and protocols. Most of the highly used programming tasks are already scripted into it that limits the length of the codes to be written in Python.

  • Integration Feature

Python integrates the Enterprise Application Integration that makes it easy to develop Web services by invoking COM or COBRA components. It has powerful control capabilities as it calls directly through C, C++ or Java via Jython. Python also processes XML and other markup languages as it can run on all modern operating systems through same byte code.

  • Improved Programmer’s Productivity

The language has extensive support libraries and clean object-oriented designs that increase two to ten fold of programmer’s productivity while using the languages like Java, VB, Perl, C, C++ and C#.

  • Productivity

With its strong process integration features, unit testing framework and enhanced control capabilities contribute towards the increased speed for most applications and productivity of applications. It is a great option for building scalable multi-protocol network applications.

What is Ruby?

Ruby is unabashedly object-oriented and influenced by C, Java, Perl, and C++. Twitter, Groupon, and Hulu are a few of the famous sites built using Ruby. Ruby’s philosophy has always been rooted in power, expressiveness, and elegance. Its practitioners believe, a language’s code should always cause as little confusion as possible for the developer. One of the star features of Ruby’s is its use of blocks or first-class objects. A block is treated as a unit within the program, making the language extremely potent, particularly when combined with its other strength, use of lambdas and functional programming. Additionally, Ruby takes the OOP concept to its greatest extent.

Advantages of Ruby on Rails

  • cost effective

The Ruby on Rails framework is 100% free and runs on Linux, which is an open-source framework. It’s also easy to work with from a developer’s perspective. There are tons of gems(plugins) available, so it can save plenty of developer time and effort which can be a great benefit of ruby.

It’s easy to create and maintain the website without spending more money ensuring greater quality, performance, or scalability of your site.

  • scalable

There’s a bit of discussion about Rails and scalability. It’s important to know that Rails is just a framework, and architecture is partly responsible for scalability. Intelligent architecture combined with a Rails application has helped many businesses to scale using Rails technology.

If you are about to build a website and concerned about scale, make sure the overall architecture supports multi-level caching, the servers support scaling and load balancing, the database is segregated (the database has its own server), and the database platform optimizes performance.
Easy to manage changes

  • easy to manage

Ruby on Rails makes it easy to modify the existing code or add new features to the site. After site launch, future modifications to your site (e.g. making any remarkable changes to the data model) is easy and quick to perform.
This framework is most effective for long-term projects due to its stability and predictability.

  • secure

Some security measures are built within the framework and enabled by default. Using Ruby on Rails also means that following the secure development lifecycle, that may be a complicated security assurance method.

Rails community actively works to spot and patch new vulnerabilities and the framework is well documented both officially and unofficially.

  • performance

For applications with lots of computation or data handling, Rails could slow the application down. If this is often happening in your application, have a fresh set of eyes take a glance at code optimization — this will greatly improve performance outcomes.

Probably there are particular parts of the codebase that are performing slowly, and therefore the tooling and shared experiences that go along with the Rails community go a long way to support a team addressing performance issues.

  • flexible

Web applications use frontend and backend capabilities of Rails; these are simpler and easier to create, but the application needs to communicate with the server to load the webpage and can lack the immediate responsiveness to a user’s taps and selections as a result.

Single page web applications can be more complex to create but may allow for more involved user interfaces and provide instant responses to user’s actions by only loading portions of the website as needed.

A single page web application would usually use something like Angular, React, or VueJS for frontend. However it will still use Rails as a backend, permitting your application to rely on some of Rails best attributes.

  • productivity

Ruby is a concise language, when combined with 3rd party libraries, allows you to develop features incredibly fast. It is one of the most productive programming language around.

  • consistent

Developers follow standardized file storage and programming conventions that keep a project structured and readable. Additionally saves lots of time.
Large Community

  • large community

It’s one of the most popular languages on social coding site GitHub. The community is full of developers that are constantly improving code and serving to others on their projects.

  • plugin repository

The abundance of free plugins, referred as gems, is another RoR advantage. RoR is often the chosen solution for startups. In operating with RoR, you can customize your website for any business need – for example, create your own exclusive social network or introduce advanced e-commerce services with a high degree of user data protection.

How are they similar?

Their performance is similar since both Python and Ruby are high-level, object-oriented scripting languages. They both come with standard libraries, an interactive shell, and persistence support. Both are also an excellent choice for web development, especially when you take advantage of each language’s purpose, building web frameworks, Django for Python and Rails for Ruby. However, Ruby on Rails is slightly more popular as a web development tool than Django-Python. Python is more favored in the academic and scientific space.

How are they different?

Python has a much more diverse community than Ruby does. Ruby’s popularity truly began when Rails came out in 2005. The community quickly grew around Rails and has since focused mostly on web development. Of course, today the community around it is much more diverse, but it hasn’t experienced the same diversity Python has. While they may seem similar, there are some significant differences between the two. Much of the difference lies in the fact that both the languages are visually similar but remain worlds apart in their approaches to solving problems. Ruby strives to be elegant, while Python focuses on readability. Ruby empowers its programmers since it is infinitely flexible, allowing the developers to do many little tricks to make an elegant web framework. Python has adopted a more direct approach to programming, the primary goal being to ensure everything is obvious to the programmer.

So which is better?

Depends. What are you trying to achieve? In most cases, half of the time you end up wanting to use ruby and the other half you’ll want to use Python. There are probably some other minor cases which push the ratio here or there, upsetting the balance, but they’re quite esoteric and niche at best.

The two languages embrace radically different philosophies. Ruby focusses on giving programmers the freedom to adopt whichever approach they want. Python, on the other hand, insists on ease of use and learning by zeroing in on a single right way of doing something. This makes Python developers somewhat conservative in their approach since they value stability over change. Meaning developments and new features are added slowly. Ruby followers seem to thrive on freedom and change. The Rails framework is thus, constantly changing, and also many of the new features and modifications in Python are first tested in Ruby.

Despite the heated arguments from both communities, it’s not possible to say which language is overall better than the other. It’s clear each has areas it is better suited to, because of its features and support from other users in the same area. For Python, it is academic and scientific programming, and for Ruby, it happens to be web development using the Rails framework.

Hendra Nicholas I am a software engineer, consultant and CEO at 41studio currently living in West Java, Indonesia. My interests range from programming to sport. I am also interested in entrepreneurship, technology, and design.