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Monday, May 4, 2009

Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts Book Review

Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts Book Review

By Steve Pugh

4 stars

Thanks to No Starch Press for my review copy!

From the Description

Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts provides 58 scripts that offer quick solutions to problems like system administration, manipulating images, and managing a website. After getting your feet wet creating simple scripts to automate tasks like file compression and decompression, you'll learn how to create powerful web crawlers, security scripts, and full-fledged libraries and applications, as well as how to:

* Rename files, disable processes, change permissions, and modify users
* Manipulate strings, encrypt files, and sort efficiently
* Validate web links, check for orphan files, and generate forms
* Mass edit photos, extract image information, and create thumbnails
* Parse CSV files and scrape links, images, and pages from the Web


Ruby is a highly extendable and sometimes confusing language especially when you throw in all the various rubygems out there. Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts provides many examples on how to use the various gems to script together quick hacks (wicked scripts) to various problems one may encounter.

Steve walks us through the problem we are trying to solve, the the code to solve the problem, how to run the code, what the results look like, a lengthy discussion on how it works and "hacking the script" with ideas on how to extend what we wrote. All the code is well commented (see the sample chapter on No Starch Press) and well explained.

Pros:
Easy and fun to read, font is readable, doesn't contain pages and pages of uncommented code, source code is available, companion website exists, and the book left me with memorable ways to remember and use the material. I've actually gone back a few times to look at some of the scripts in the book. I also liked the metasploit section (of course). It certainly isn't your typical "Hello World" programming book which is also refreshing.

Cons:
As one other person posted in their Amazon review, its a bit hard to say what level the book is for. Its certainly NOT for beginners as we're expected to already have ruby up and running and understand the basics and its not advanced material either. That leaves us with intermediate which is ok but certainly makes it hard to recommend for knowledgeable programmers. The book is short, its got 58 or so scripts coming in at 170 pages but it would have been nice to have more. Its certainly not "too short" but more would have been nice. I would have liked to had more information on the specific rubygems used for different scripts. Links to where to the specific gem homepages to get further usage would have been nice as well.

View the detailed Table of Contents (PDF)

View the Index (PDF)

Sample Chapter: Chapter 1: "General Purpose Utilities"

Source Code: Source Code from the Book




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