Ruby vs HTML: A Thorough Comparison to Decide Which Language Fits Your Goals

So you want to build websites. Should you learn Ruby or HTML first?

I get this question a lot from aspiring developers. And there‘s no straight answer.

Ruby and HTML serve radically different purposes. This guide will clarify the key distinctions to help you decide when Ruby or HTML best suits your needs.

By the end, you‘ll grasp:

  • The core capabilities and syntax differences between Ruby and HTML
  • What types of websites get built with Ruby vs only HTML
  • Learning curves and processes for mastering each language
  • How to know when to utilize Ruby versus basic HTML

Let‘s compare Ruby and HTML across several categories and dispel some common misconceptions. Time to settle the debate once and for all!

Ruby vs HTML at a Quick Glance

Before diving deeper, here‘s a high-level overview of Ruby versus HTML:

Ruby is a robust, object-oriented programming language for rapidly building complex, data-driven web applications. Ruby contains full features like variables, control flows and classes to execute backend logic.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) merely structures and presents content within web browsers. HTML allows you to organize text, images, tables and other elements to create basic web page content.

In a nutshell:

  • Use Ruby to code scalable web app backends and servers
  • Use HTML to format visual web content users see

But there‘s MUCH more to it…

Ruby: A Programmer‘s Dream Language

Developed in the mid-90s by Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto, Ruby quickly won fans across the industry for its developer-friendly nature.

What sets Ruby apart?

Natural Language Syntax – Ruby reads similarly to English with an intuitive flow. Statements follow understandable patterns instead of convoluted nests of symbols and brackets.

Flexibility – Ruby handles everything from simple scripting to large-scale programs. Adapt it across domains like web, games, science and data analysis.

Open Source Power – An active community constantly produces new Ruby gems (packages of code) to incorporate into your projects. Avoid reinventing the wheel!

Thanks to these coder-focused attributes, Ruby has become the backbone behind major platforms. Here are some examples:

  • Airbnb
  • GitHub
  • Shopify
  • SoundCloud
  • Square
  • Twitch
  • Hulu

Developers at these companies harness Ruby on Rails, the dominant Ruby web framework, to handle huge server loads and complex data applications.

The takeaway? Ruby empowers programmers to rapidly build and iterate products users love.

And yet, Ruby DOESN‘T power every single website…

HTML: The Internet‘s Skin & Bones

If Ruby is so useful, why doesn‘t the whole web run on Ruby?

Well, the majority of websites leverage HTML as their "presentation layer" – i.e. to define visible page content inside browsers.

Released in late 1991 by scientist Tim Berners-Lee, HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) lets developers describe and structure web document components using special "tags".

Over 142 total tags exist like <p> for paragraphs or <table> for…you guessed it, tables! Nest these block elements together and TADA πŸ₯3, you‘ve got web content.

Here‘s a simplified snippet of HTML:

  My Blog


  <p>Hello world! Today I started my blog...</p>

Programmers later built upon HTML‘s content foundation by adding:

  • CSS: Cascading Stylesheets for visually formatting web elements
  • JavaScript: Programming logic to enable interactive behaviors

Combined together, HTML + CSS + JS represent the universal building blocks of web pages across devices, browsers and platforms.

This is why HTML remains so widely used – it provides the common "language" for displaying content online consistently.

But HTML stops short of powering COMPLEX web apps the way Ruby does…

And THATBring me to the key distinction between these languages πŸ’‘

Ruby: Changes The Internet

HTML: Displays The Internet

The Web would be pretty boring if it only supported static informational pages.

We crave experiences – social networks, streaming platforms, web-based apps letting us interact and transact online.

This is where Ruby shines over HTML.

Armed with a full programming language, developers use Ruby to:

  • Access databases
  • Process user inputs
  • Handle secure transactions
  • Orchestrate app infrastructure
  • Execute custom algorithms
  • Crunch analytics
  • Stream dynamic content

Ruby handles the true WORKHORSE STUFF powering web innovation today. No other language provides quite the same blend of simplicity while enabling enterprise-scale capabilities.

And yet – Ruby DOES rely on good ol‘ HTML to ultimately display those experiences 😆.

HTML + CSS visually render what Ruby builds behind-the-scenes. They complement one another perfectly:

  • Ruby β†’ Logic & Scaling
  • HTML β†’ Structure & Design

So rather than viewing them as rivals, smart developers leverage Ruby AND HTML together.

With great understanding of each language‘s strengths, you can architect amazing products.

Should You Learn Ruby or HTML First?

Newcomers naturally wonder whether to focus on Ruby or HTML first…

There‘s no objectively right or wrong answer here.

Depends if your interests fall more on:

  • Computing logic β†’ Learn Ruby
  • Content presentation β†’ Learn HTML

However, here is the learning path I‘d probably recommend:

1. HTML 🌐

Dipping your toes first into HTML allows experiencing immediate gratification. Within hours, you can start formatting interesting web layouts.

HTML is easy. Interactive online tutorials like freeCodeCamp make absorbing HTML‘s limited syntax very approachable. I‘d spend ~1 week getting comfy.

2. CSS 🎠̈

Before jumping into Ruby, spend another week grasping CSS stylesheet concepts for styling your HTML visually. This will complete the basic content layer.

3. JavaScript ✠̈

Next tackle roughly a month of JavaScript, since its programming model aligns closely with Ruby. Must know before attempting advanced Ruby methods.

4. Ruby on Rails β˜•

With solid HTML, CSS and JS foundations, learning Ruby will feel far less intimidating. Allot 2-3 months for adequately covering Ruby on Rails.

Then you can start architects fully-featured web applications!

See my Complete Roadmap to Web Development for expanded thoughts.

Or perhaps you wish to focus directly on Ruby backend work right away?

Choose whatever excites you most 🀩 Just don‘t skip HTML altogether – you‘ll eventually need it to display interfaces.

When Should You Use Ruby vs HTML?

New web developers also commonly ask:

"When should I use Ruby versus basic HTML?"

The general guideline is:

Use Ruby – If building a data-rich web application requiring extensive backend logic and infrastructure

Use HTML – If publishing simpler informational web content without heavy programming needs

For example, blogs, ecommerce stores, social platforms, SAAS products, and collaboration tools typically leverage custom Ruby on Rails backends.

Whereas, marketing sites, online resumes, and content hubs rely mainly on HTML, CSS and JavaScript towards the front.

There are ALWAYS exceptions of course! But generally Ruby handles dynamic apps, while HTML powers static pages.

Determine if users primarily need:

  • An experience β†’ Use Ruby
  • Some information β†’ Use HTML

Align your choice to the product vision πŸ’‘ Then utilize Ruby and HTML together wherever helpful.

Time to Master Ruby and HTML

This guide should leave you with clarity about the purpose and strengths behind both Ruby and HTML languages.

Ruby empowers developers through its easy syntax and huge capabilities. Build scalable backends and complex logic!

HTML lets anyone structure basic web content which gets displayed to users. Become a master at UI layouts!

These languages shine for divergent reasons. But often collaborate beautifully across the modern web tech stack.

Now venture forth and start leveraging Ruby AND HTML within your next web project!

Let me know if you have any other questions πŸ€“

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