Our CTO, Chris, recently turned me on to Ruby. I've been playing around with it a bit over the last few weeks, and I've got so say I'm pretty impressed. I really appreciate that it was designed, as they say, according to the “Principal of Least Surprise”. Which means that it basically works the way you would think.
Ruby has a lot in common with Smalltalk, in that “everything is an object” kinda way, but since Ruby's syntax seems more (to me at least) like Python or Boo, it seems more natural than Smalltalk. Sure, you don't get the wizzy browser, but that's pretty much OK. When you apply the idea that everything is an object, and you're just sending them messages to ask them (please) to do what you want, you get some amazingly flexible code. Sure, it's a bit squishy, and for code I was going to put into production I still like compile time type safety, but for scripting or quick tasks, Ruby seems like a very productive way to go.
Possibly more impressive was the fact that the Ruby installer for Windows set up everything exactly the way I would have thought (”least surprise” again) including adding the ruby interpreter into the path (kudos) and setting up the right file extension associations so that everything “just worked”. Very nice.
The reason Chris actually brought it to my attention was to point me at Rails, which is a very impressive MVC framework for writing web applications in Ruby. Because Ruby is so squishily late-bound, it can do some really amazing things with database accessors. Check out the “ActiveRecord” in Rails for some really neat DAL ideas.
I'm assuming that that same flexibility makes for some pretty groovy Web Services clients, but I haven't had a chance to check any out yet. Anyone have any experience with SOAP and Ruby?