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28 May 2023 - 8 minutes

JavaScript vs Ruby: Which Coding Language Should You Learn?

Caught between the two? Let’s dive into their differences.

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With such a large number of programming languages available, it can be difficult to pick just one to learn. JavaScript and Ruby are two of the most well-known languages–and with good reason. In order to allow you to make an educated decision on which language would be the most beneficial for you, we’ve created this guide. But just remember: when it comes to programming, there is no wrong answer—only different ways of accomplishing the same goal.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is an interpreted, high-level, multi-paradigm, dynamically-typed language that conforms to the ECMAScript standard. Now, if those words are nothing but gibberish to you, don’t worry. Let’s define each term:

JavaScript: Interpreted

This word means the opposite of “compiled.” And what does compiled mean? A compiled language is one whose source code needs to be passed to a compiler, which is a program that can transform a language into bytecode (1s and 0s) that your computer can understand and then execute. An interpreted language is one that doesn’t have to be pre-compiled; instead, an interpreter reads the code line-by-line and runs each line as it reads it, without a need for a pre-compiled codebase. 

JavaScript: High-Level

High-level is a relative term, but the general consensus is that JavaScript is a high-level language. A high-level language is one that abstracts away the details of the machine on which it is run; it’s a language that provides developers with tools (language elements) that make it easier for them to think about and solve problems, without having to worry about the details of how a computer works. After all, you don’t need an electrical engineering degree to change a lightbulb and you shouldn’t need a computer engineering degree to be able to write good code. 

JavaScript: Multi-Paradigm

This is a buzzword that you’ll be hearing more and more often as you begin your tech journey. As programming languages evolve, their maintainers continuously add features seen in other languages that developers may want; this means that as languages grow, they become more and more similar to one another. Now, what does this have to do with “multi-paradigm?” 

JavaScript is multi-paradigm in the sense that its features are associated with languages that would be considered functional or object-oriented, which are two completely separate paradigms. Here’s a breakdown: 

  • JavaScript is functional in the sense that functions are “first-class citizens” and can be passed-to, returned-from, and consumed-by other functions. 

  • You’re able to write fully-functioning JavaScript code using nothing by function composition. 

  • JavaScript is also object-oriented: it allows you to create objects that inherit from other objects and complex data structures that a “purely functional” language would never allow.

JavaScript: Dynamically-Typed

Like many other interpreted languages, JavaScript is dynamically-typed, meaning that the types assigned to variables, parameters, and functions are not checked for consistency before the code is run. This feature has a number of benefits, but also several drawbacks. It enables developers to write short scripts really quickly, but it can also be the root of hours and hours of frustration when a type-mismatch causes a bug that would never have been possible in a statically-typed language. 

With that in mind, if you want a language that conforms to the ECMAScript standard but is strongly and statically-typed, look no further than TypeScript.

You certainly don’t need to know or fully understand the four terms defined above to be able to write good JavaScript code but as a developer, you should know the ins-and-outs of the tools you use. 

In the case of JavaScript, it’s quite simple: JavaScript is the de-facto front-end web development programming language and the overwhelming majority of websites use JavaScript for client-side scripting; any serious web-browser will have a dedicated JavaScript language for executing code efficiently on user devices.

Is JavaScript Right for Me?

Well, that depends on your career goals: 

  • Do you want to be a front-end web developer? Then yes, JavaScript is exactly the language that you should learn. 

  • Do you want to be a back-end web developer? JavaScript is a great choice, but there are many, many languages and frameworks from which to choose.

  • Do you want to be a full-stack web developer? Then yes, yes, one thousand times yes! JavaScript will enable you to write every part of your application with ease. 

Best Ways to Learn JavaScript

Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hours rule? It’s a concept introduced by Malcolm Gladwell that basically means the more you do something, the better you get at it. Gladwell claims that only after practicing a skill for 10,000 hours can someone be considered an expert. And while we can’t confirm or deny that’s what you’ll need to become a coding expert, we can give you one tip: start writing it! 

Okay, that one was pretty obvious! But here are some other ways to learn:

  • Take a bootcamp! They offer expert guidance, clear learning targets, and real-time feedback on how you’re progressing on your learning journey

  • Follow the guides on the official JavaScript website

  • Pick up a book! Try Eloquent JavaScript by Marjin Haverbeke or JavaScript: The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan

I Already Know JavaScript: What Language Should I Learn?

If you already know JavaScript, then you’re most likely a front-end web developer. JavaScript is the natural choice for what you do and there aren’t any serious alternatives in the market. But if you’re asking what language you should learn next, you’re probably trying to expand your skill set to be able to take on different tasks. If that’s the case, consider learning Python, Java, C, or (you guessed it!) Ruby.


Python is very similar to JavaScript in the sense that it’s also an interpreted, high-level, multi-paradigm, dynamically-typed language. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also consistently ranked as one of the most popular languages in the world, meaning there’s a massive community of users that are able to answer any questions you may have and thousands upon thousands of user-tested libraries available for you to use that will help you do whatever it is you want to do, but faster. 


Another great option is Java. Unlike JavaScript, Java is compiled, high-level, object-oriented, and statically-typed. You’ll find yourself having to do things and think about problems in different ways, due to the nature of the differences between the two languages. And you’ll have no problem learning Java as there are a number of great books dedicated specifically to that purpose. 


C is nothing like any of the previously mentioned options; it’s a compiled, low-level, statically-typed language. Learning C will force you to become comfortable with pointers and pointer-arithmetic and you’ll quickly learn to be grateful for features that you took for granted in other higher-level languages, such as garbage collection. C is incredibly fast and every piece of hardware you’ll ever use has a c-compiler built in. If you know how to program in C, you can write a computer program anywhere.


If you already know JavaScript, consider learning Ruby. Like JavaScript, Ruby is an interpreted, high-level, multi-paradigm, dynamically-typed language. It was influenced by many of the same languages that influenced the creation of JavaScript, but has one major difference: the primary purpose of the Ruby language is programmer productivity

What is Ruby?

We’ll remind you: Ruby is an interpreted, high-level, multi-paradigm, dynamically-typed language, initially created as an object-oriented scripting language (none existed at the time), but has since added on a large number of features to make it as valuable as Python and Java. But here’s the catch: Ruby is not a “language feature,” but instead a design philosophy; Ruby’s primary purpose is to make its programmers happy and productive. 

Is Ruby Right for Me?

Well, that depends on your goals:

  • If you want to write software and would like to use a language that puts programmer happiness first, Ruby’s the right language for you. 

  • If you’re looking for a language that’s popular, powerful, and easy to learn, then look no further than Ruby! 

Because it was designed as a scripting language but has evolved into a general-purpose powerhouse, it’s super easy to get started writing code and exploring all the features that Ruby has to offer. 

Best Ways to Learn Ruby

There are tons of great ways to learn Ruby—it all just depends on your preferred way to learn:

  • Have some reference books on hand, such as Programming Ruby 3.2 by Noel Rappin or Eloquent Ruby by Russ Olsen

  • Follow along with a project in one of the previously mentioned books

  • Learn the Ruby Koans

  • Choose your own project and just get coding! 

Whichever way you choose, just remember that it takes time to become an expert—it won’t happen overnight! The trick to becoming good at something is to stick with it: decide on how you want to learn, keep at it, and in no time you’ll be programming in Ruby. 

I Already Know Ruby: What Language Should I Learn?

If you already know Ruby, then you already know the most developer-friendly language ever made—every language you learn from now on will have you asking, “why did they design this feature that way?” However, depending on what you want to do, there are some great options: 

  • If you want to be a front-end web developer, then we highly recommend you learn JavaScript. 

  • If you want to be a back-end web developer, then you have a lot more choices, but Java or Python are two natural choices that are widely used in the industry. 

  • If you’re just trying to learn something new and interesting, consider learning a pure functional language such as Haskell.

There are no wrong choices when it comes to learning and no matter what language you choose to learn next, we’re sure that you’ll make the right choice for you and your career. And if you want to get started on that next language right away, check out Ironhack’s Web Development Bootcamp, where you’ll learn exactly what the job market needs. What could be better? 

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