JavaScript vs Ruby – What are the differences?

Marlena Walburg

Regardless of whether you are considering learning programming and wondering which language you should start with or a business owner who wants to create a digital product, choosing the right technology is a demanding task. For the future developer, it is a decision that shapes his professional path. For the entrepreneur, a determination may affect the success of the project. Narrowing down a little bit of discussion of technologies to those that (most often) are used for web applications, we have many players on the market. You are probably familiar with such widespread and reputable programming languages ​​as JavaScript and Ruby. In recent years, when online presence has become crucial not to lose the position in the market, both have developed strongly to offer as much as possible. Ruby and JS have quite a lot in common, so it’s no surprise that the JavaScript vs Ruby debate has been going on for a while. Today, take a closer look at both technologies, their similarities and differences. It will undoubtedly bring you closer to the characteristics of these famous languages, and maybe, it will help you choose the best one for your needs.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is most often used to build web pages. It is a high-level, multi-paradigm scripting programming language. It is one of the core web technologies, alongside HTML and CSS – over 97% of websites use it as a frontend technology. Since the release of Node.js, a JavaScript-based platform, in 2009, developers can use JS for backend development as well. The current JavaScript ecosystem includes many libraries and structures, good practices, and extended use of JavaScript outside web browsers. The most popular of the JS libraries is jQuery, which is used by over 75% of websites. Equally often used is the Facebook-created React library, which started as a tool for the company but was later made available open-source. It is the basis of the widely used React Native. JavaScript is definitely a robust, mature technology that gives even more possibilities thanks to JS frameworks.  

Node.js, as mentioned earlier, is one of these frameworks.

It is an open, cross-platform JavaScript runtime that runs on the V8 engine and executes JavaScript code outside the web browser. Node.js represents the “JavaScript everywhere” paradigm by unifying web application development around a single programming language, rather than different languages for server-side and client-side scripting. Node.js allows developers to use JavaScript to write command-line tools and to execute server-side scripting.

What is Ruby?

Ruby appeared at almost the same time as JavaScript. It is an interpreted, fully object-oriented, dynamically typed programming language for general purposes. Yukihiro Matsumoto, the language creator, said Ruby was designed to make Ruby fun and enjoyable for developers to be productive and follow good user interface design principles. It is supposed to be accessible to a novice programmer and give satisfactory results too. The language itself has many unique features like automatic garbage collection, “Duck Typing”, which means recognizing types based on their behavior rather than declarations, exception handling and more. Ruby programs are highly portable between platforms. Currently, Ruby is less often used solo but more often in the form of a framework that significantly extends its capabilities – Ruby on Rails.

This RoR is used to build server-side web applications. It appeared in 2005, and it took the hearts of many developers and businesses by storm. It significantly influenced the development of web applications; it is a pattern-view-controller (MVC) framework that provides default frameworks for databases, web services and websites. It supports and facilitates web standards such as JSON or XML for data transfer and HTML, CSS and JavaScript for user interface handling. RoR also supports the use of software engineering patterns and paradigms such as do not repeat (DRY), over configuration (CoC) convention, and the active record pattern. Ruby on Rails has had a massive impact on other web frameworks. Many of them written in other languages borrow his ideas, such as Django, CakePHP or Laravel.

Key differences between JavaScript and Ruby

Ruby is typically used for server-side application development. On the other hand, although extended with some server-side programming options, JavaScript is mainly a front-end language. JS is also much better in performance tests. Moreover, it also offers better scalability than Ruby, so many companies migrate from Ruby to Node.js. JS cannot monitor memory usage as Ruby does. Ruby is better for building CPU-intensive applications, including graphics-rich. When it comes to debugging, Ruby applications with many abstraction layers are more time-consuming for this task. Possibly detecting and fixing bugs in JavaScript applications is much easier. We can also notice, of course, syntactic differences. In Ruby, variables are relatively easy to set and a little bit shorter than in JS. Also, semicolons are not mandatory in Ruby but are necessary for JavaScript when there is more than 1 statement per line. Actually, there are many more such differences, but we will not list them all now. One aspect that also makes the difference between Ruby and JavaScript, albeit subjective, is application development simplicity. Many developers find JS easier in this regard. However, this is a matter of individual preferences.

Is Ruby easier than JavaScript?

Overall, Ruby’s syntax is concise and easy to read. It is also quite focused on one correct way of performing specific tasks. On the other hand, JS borrows a lot from Java and C, such as the use of curly braces as block delimiters. JavaScript is definitely more flexible and does not force any specific coding recommendations. Much depends on the developer’s preferences. It makes learning JavaScript confusing at first. With a multitude of ways to do even trivial things without being stubborn and with the proper focus and openness, it’s easy to get discouraged. Just look at StackOverflow to see how many ways there are to solve the same problem or task. JS is a way to build something yourself or start working as a developer quickly. Demand for this technology continues, unlike Ruby, which is losing popularity. Coming back to Ruby, it is widely believed to be a simple language to learn to code. By the way, it is designed, it forces you to code in a commonly accepted manner, at least initially. So it also forces you to learn some best practices and concepts for creating websites. Nevertheless, Ruby on Rails is a more popular choice today, instead of its base language itself. It gives more opportunities while being equally accessible to study and more attractive on the labor market.

Is Ruby similar to JavaScript?

To some extent, yes. There are different things JS and Ruby have in common. Both languages are general-purpose, object-oriented and interpreted. They are also dynamically typed; they don’t have a compiler to check data types before running the program. Ruby and JS also have similar built-in data types, for example, strings, shortcuts, and both support closures or record storing functions with the value or reference to which the name was bound when the closure was created.

JavaScript vs Ruby on Rails – Which is better?

Considering the cases, uses, functionalities, advantages and disadvantages of both, it would be difficult and quite damaging to say unequivocally that one is better. Their fans widely use both languages; often, it is simply the developer’s preferences that determine which technology seems to be winning. A lot also depends on the business model and a specific vision for a digital product. JavaScript can be more beneficial than Ruby if you want a highly scalable, efficient application with a flexible structure. With Node.js, you can handle both the front-end and the back-end. Ruby also has its advantages, such as rapid development, database migration, and community support. Ruby can be an excellent choice for an application that you want to build quickly without much complexity. But if you compare JavaScript vs Ruby on Rails, you can see that they are not really competitors. RoR is commonly used in backend programming. JavaScript is a client-side scripting language that is especially useful for the front-end development of an application. JavaScript is rarely used in the standalone version of “Vanilla JS”, and its framework, Node.js, is more often used. The truth is until you define your digital product requirements, its features, and your needs for it, you won’t decide which technology is better. Both can be very beneficial.


As you can see, Ruby and JavaScript are interesting languages with more differences than similarities. If you are faced with a choice between them, think about what you actually expect. JS is one of the most popular programming languages, and I have held this high position for years. It is literally the default language of websites and has many uses that go beyond its traditional role. It is used to support smart TVs, the Internet of Things, and to create cross-platform applications. If you want to handle the backend with it additionally, just use Node.js. More and more developers are using it to develop cloud-based applications desired by the market. Standalone Ruby may seem like a slightly unusual choice today, but that is where Ruby on Rails comes in. It allows you to build web applications rapidly, has a thriving community, and is a full-stack. Many of the world’s biggest websites are built using Ruby on Rails, such as Airbnb, Groupon, Kickstarter, and Shopify.

Hence, if you want to learn to program, both of these choices will actually be cool. If you plan to build a digital product such as a web application or website, it all depends on its individual characteristics. It is best to consult this selection with your development team. If you are looking for such a trusted contractor for your project, contact BinarApps. We have a tech consulting studio that will help you choose the most profitable development path.

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