Ruby is an open-source programming language that can be used as a server-side preprocessor, similar to PHP, Perl, Python and so on. What sets it apart is that it is surprisingly user-friendly and programmer-orientated. The official description from the Ruby website is:
A dynamic, open source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. It has an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write.
It certainly does seem friendly enough – it is built-in to many major Linux distributions as standard and there are equally effortless installers for both Windows and Mac OS. There is also a nifty interface for testing little snippets of code on the fly, and for launching larger projects. And it really is elegant – much more so than PHP.
What impresses me most, though, is an online interface for trying out Ruby that doubles up as as brief walkthrough and tutorial to the Ruby language. Go on, try it out – if you’re new to programming it is a nice little introduction on how programming syntax works; if you’re a little more experienced, it is refreshingly natural.