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Ruby’s Popularity On The Up; An Ideal Haven For The Recession?

By Peter Cooper / October 15, 2008

chartgoesup.png A week ago, in a story published by, Darryl K. Taft asked "Can Ruby and Rails Make Developers Shine in a Downturn?"

The general gist is that with a generally lower total cost of development, projects using Ruby and Rails will continue to increase, and even thrive in a recession, ensuring the success of Ruby and Rails developers. An analyst with Forrester, John Rymer, however, countered:

I respectfully suggest that the type of application someone is working on is a more important factor than language usage. In a downturn, companies tend to go back to basics.

Whatever the final outcome, Ruby's popularity is still increasing. Dean Cruse of Five Runs weighs in with his own opinion - namely that "Rails represents a low risk investment for the IT organization," due to its open source nature. Of 154 people polled in Dean's post, currently 44% see more opportunities for Rails developers heading into a recession, against only 15% who see "major cutbacks" ahead. Sees 20x Increase in Ruby Searches

Further, this week, Black Duck Software, the company behind the popular search engine, has announced that it has seen a dramatic increase in the popularity of Ruby on its code search site with the number of Ruby-related searches having increased 20 times since 2004. They've also announced that they're crawling more Ruby sources than ever, now including all of RubyForge. Tom Copeland, RubyForge's sys-admin, is delighted:

Black Duck’s search data confirms the tremendous growth that we are seeing within the community of Ruby developers. It’s great to see a leading code search site like index RubyForge because it represents another way to make the projects in our community available to tens of thousands of developers worldwide.

4 million Rubyists by 2013?

IT research company Gartner, Inc. are also convinced that Ruby's popularity is on the up, and the Ruby ecosystem will reach 4 million developers worldwide by 2013. Mark Driver, research VP at Gartner, Inc. says:

[..] Ruby will enjoy a higher concentration among corporate IT developers than typical, dynamic ‘scripting’ languages, such as PHP.

I'm not entirely buying this yet, but if it becomes true and Ruby leapfrogs PHP in the corporate environment, you could be looking at some pretty interesting years ahead as a Ruby developer!

But Python Might Be Moving Faster..

On the other hand, Ruby is still hovering at #10 in the TIOBE Programming Community Index, a position it's held for over a year now. While TIOBE's index isn't incredibly accurate, it makes a good indicator, and even Delphi has resurged back ahead of Ruby in the last year, and Python appears to be moving up the charts a lot quicker than Ruby.


  1. Jeremy says:

    I think Python's movement is probably more attributed to Google's adoption, its use in the scientific circles, and some vague acceptance in system administration roles than widespread general use adoption...

  2. Bala Paranj says:

    If Rails gives you 10x productivity, who cares whether Python is moving faster than Ruby. Develop your own product using Ruby and kick some ass!

  3. Nazar says:

    >and even Delphi has resurged back ahead of Ruby in the last year

    Delphi FTW!!! Or better still... Free Pascal and Lazarus!!111!

  4. Dean Cruse says:

    Thanks for the call out, Peter. In addition to the open source argument, developer productivity (and happiness) and the ease at which you can deploy apps into the Cloud will all reduce risk for IT and I think insulate Ruby developers from the financial storm. To John Rymer's point, the type of application will also be a big deal - big complex projects will get shelved and simple apps that solve important problems in an elegant way will continue to get funded. And, it is these types of apps precisely for which Ruby (and Rails) are a perfect fit.

  5. Benjamin Holmberg says:

    Talk of "the cloud" is all the rage these days but what about outages? They happen and I don't think people are okay with being in the position of being able to do nothing when their servers are down!

  6. Peter Cooper says:

    Further information here:

  7. Roman says:

    It seems that popularity of Ruby goes slightly up (, but the popularity of Ruby on Rails grows continuously (

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