What an ASP.NET Developer Should Know Before Switching to Ruby

If you’re looking to take your career in a new direction, Ruby is a great option.

If you want to become a Ruby developer, there’s definitely work available for you.

Ruby has become widely known over the past few years, rising from a niche language to one used to develop some of the most popular websites on the Internet, like Groupon and Github.

The June 2014 TIOBE index lists Ruby as the 13th most popular coding language, while BuiltWith shows Ruby on Rails (the open-source web application framework that runs on Ruby, aka “Rails”) as running neck-and-neck with ASP.NET MVC.

But does the attention this language is receiving mean it’s the right time for an ASP.NET developer to learn Ruby? To help you decide, here’s a look at what Ruby can offer:

A gateway to new industries

If you’re looking to take your career in a new direction, Ruby is a great option. Not only is the work itself very different from that of an ASP.NET developer, but the types of projects are, as well. Compare Ruby usage to ASP.NET usage: You’ll note some distinct differences between the two. Ruby’s top sectors are business, entertainment, shopping, social media, sports, technology and travel. ASP.NET’s top verticals are business, education, government, health, shopping, technology and travel.

So, if you want to branch out and work in some new industries, learning Ruby could help you achieve those goals.

Increased adaptability

Working in Ruby is a different experience that you may enjoy more than ASP.NET. Ruby is a dynamic, duck-typed language that allows a lot of freedom and flexibility. In addition, technologies like SasS, CoffeeScript and jQuery are the default modules that ship with Rails. Many developers have found this to be an excellent way to work with CSS and JavaScript. The modules can be easily swapped, making Rails customizable to your technological preferences.

Ruby is typically run on Linux servers and its tools put a heavy premium on keyboard use, which is very different from working with Visual Studio and deploying to Windows servers. With ASP.NET, it is possible (but extremely painful) to develop code without Visual Studio, but Ruby developers do just fine with a text editor.

For those who prefer a full IDE, there are a number of Ruby IDEs available, as well. Ruby’s syntax places more power in symbols, which allows it to be less verbose than C#. If these differences pique your interest, Ruby could improve your tool set satisfaction.

Bonus: It’s an inexpensive way to launch a consulting career

The tools and servers needed for Ruby are far less expensive than those required for ASP.NET. This makes it possible to put together a free (or nearly free) development environment. The cost advantage of Ruby makes it an attractive option to ASP.NET for developers who are considering becoming consultants or starting new businesses.

With all these advantages, why wouldn’t you want to learn Ruby? Well, just as some developers are more comfortable in the Ruby environment, you may be perfectly satisfied using ASP.NET and troubleshooting issues in those applications when they arise.

In short, if you’re satisfied with your current career path as an ASP.NET developer, there may be little reason to learn Ruby beyond curiosity or an interest in trying something new. That might not be enough motivation to devote time in your busy schedule to learning a style of work that’s substantially different from ASP.NET. But if you’re looking to take your career in a new direction, you could very well benefit from the opportunities that Ruby has to offer.

Are you an ASP.NET developer who made the switch to Ruby? Share your experiences in the comments section. To learn how to avoid common Ruby on Rails errors, check out this post.