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In Development Last updated: June 20, 2023
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So, you have decided to start learning programming but can’t decide which language to pick. You are not alone. There exists many programming languages created to suit different needs. 

Python, Ruby, and GoLang are among the most famous languages. Knowing which to pick and why is not easy if you narrow it down to these three languages.

In this article, I will explain in detail what each language (Python, Ruby, and GoLang) is, compare their features, and explain when to use each language. 

What is Python?

What-is-Python

Python is a high-level object-oriented programming language. It is a general-purpose programming language, meaning it can be used in scripting, data science, web development, and more. 

Python was ranked the fourth-most popular programming language based on Stack Overflow’s 2022 Developer Survey. Its versatility and simple syntax are some of the reasons why developers love it. 

Python supports modules and packages, which promotes code reusability and program modularity. This language is loved by developers who value productivity. There is no compilation step in Python. Debugging a Python program is easy as this language raises an exception when it notes an error or bug in the code. 

Python Use cases

  • Web development
  • Machine learning and data analysis
  • Scripting and automation
  • Software prototyping and testing

What is Ruby?

What-is-Ruby

Ruby is an object-oriented scripting language that Yukihiro Matsumoto wrote. As an object-oriented language, everything in Ruby is an object. You can thus interact and manipulate these objects as you write your code, promoting code reusability and organization. 

One key feature that attracts developers to Ruby is its human-friendly syntax. Writing Ruby code feels as if one is coding in English. Ruby is one of the languages promoting the “convention over configuration” concept, allowing you to focus more on solving the problem using less code. 

As a scripting language, Ruby does not talk to the hardware directly like C or C++ (compiled languages). Ruby programs are procedural and take different approaches to solving different problems. Even though Ruby is a general-purpose language, it is mostly used for web development using the Ruby on Rails web framework. 

Ruby use cases 

  • Web development
  • Testing and prototyping
  • Scripting
  • Data processing and analysis
  • Building games

What is GoLang?

GoLang, or simply Go, was designed by Google in 2007 and made open source in 2009. Before Go was designed, Google used C++ in most of its programs.

However, the engineers at Google discovered that C++ was overly complex and hard to manage. As a result, they created something easier to learn and manage. 

What-is-GoLang

Go is a statically typed, compiled programming language. As a statically typed language, you must declare the variable types at compile. This approach reduces code errors and makes debugging easy, as programs will never start until errors have been sorted. 

Go is a perfect choice for web development due to its enhanced memory performance. This language is also supported on various IDEs, and you can use it to build scalable and fast web applications.

Go use cases

  • Web development
  • DevOps & Site Reliability
  • Command line interfaces
  • Cloud and network services

Python vs. Ruby vs. Go

The three languages, Python, Ruby, and Go, are similar in various ways. For instance, all are high-level languages, have simple syntax, and can also be used in web development. However, the three languages share some differences, as demonstrated in this table;

FeaturePythonRuby Go
TypingDynamicallyDynamicallyStatically
SyntaxReadable and cleanExpressive and readableFocused and concise
Web developmentUses frameworks such as Django and FlaskUses frameworks such as Rails and SinatraUses frameworks such as Gin/Gin-Gonic and Beego
Learning curveBeginner-friendlyBeginner-friendlyModerate and easy
LibrariesWide range of web frameworksConsiderable web frameworks A growing number of web frameworks
Popular Very popular Popular Growing popularity
CommunityBig community Big community Growing community

Python vs. Ruby vs. GoLang: Detailed Comparison

#1. Language Syntax and Readability

Python is a dynamically typed language. Thus, a variable does not have to be declared before it is used. This language focuses on code simplicity and readability. The language enforces consistent indentation and white space that define code blocks. 

To display “Hello, world!”, you can write this code;

print ('Hello, world!')

Ruby is a dynamically typed language. This language has a clean syntax that focuses on readability. It is a language for developers who want to write expressive and concise code. 

To write “Hello, world!” in Ruby, you need this simple code;

puts "Hello, world!"

Go is a statically typed language. You must declare the variables before you use them. This language’s structure is designed to reduce complexity and maintain code readability. However, Go’s code is less expressive than Ruby and Python’s. 

To display “Hello, world!” in Go, you need this code;

package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
  fmt.Println("Hello, world!")
}

#2. Performance and scalability

Python is an interpreted language. Thus, the Python interpreter does not convert the code to machine code before execution but reads it line by line. Thus, it might not be the best choice for high-performance programs. However, frameworks like NumPy and Cython can help improve Ruby’s performance. 

Ruby is similar to Python, an interpreted language. The introduction of Ruby 3 came with important features like the Just In Time (JIT) compiler that addresses the performance issue to an extent. This language also has several third-party tools like Apache Kafka or RabbitMQ, making it easy to scale Ruby programs. 

Go is the fastest language among the three. It is a compiled language; converts code to machine-readable format before execution. The language is also highly scalable due to its concurrency and parallelism features. 

#3. Web frameworks and ecosystem

Python has various web frameworks, such as Django and Flask. These two frameworks also have big communities and are used by small and big corporations. Python also has a mature ecosystem with third-party libraries and tools for web development. 

Ruby has several web frameworks, but Rails or Ruby on Rails is the most popular. Rails have various generators that you can use to bootstrap your application. Ruby has a big ecosystem with libraries known as gems. 

Go has a few web frameworks, with Gorilla and Gin leading the pack. The first web framework features a collection of packages allowing developers to pick the necessary components. Gin, on the other hand, focuses on performance and simplicity. Go’s ecosystem is not as big as Python’s and Ruby’s but is growing. 

#4. Ease of use and developer productivity

Python is a beginner-friendly language whose priority is on simplicity and readability. The syntax is similar to English. Python also has many libraries, tools, and built-in functions that help improve developers’ productivity. 

Ruby is an easy-to-learn language that also focuses on the developers’ happiness. This language also has many built-in functions and tools that increase developers’ productivity.

Go is harder to learn than Python and Ruby, even though simpler than C++. Go focuses on balancing simplicity and performance, but its design principles make it a good choice for developers.

#5. Industry adoption

We can consider different factors when evaluating the adoption of the three languages. For instance, use cases and surveys. 

We will use the 2023 Stackoverflow survey to compare industry adoption of Python, Ruby, and Go. 

2023 Stackoverflow survey
Image Source: StackOverflow

Python is the most famous of the three languages. The report found that 49.28% of the respondents used Python as their programming language. 

Go is the second-most used language on our list. Based on the same report, 13.24% of the respondents said they were using Go. 

Ruby was the least used, as only 6.23% of the respondents used it. 

#6. Community

Python has a big community due to its many use cases. There exist many online resources that benefit beginners and experts alike. There are also many channels where you can find support when faced with a Python-related blocker. 

Ruby has a smaller community than Python but bigger than Go. The biggest chunk of Ruby’s community uses Rails. Many online resources can also be used to learn Ruby and its frameworks. 

Go is a relatively newer language with a growing community. GoLang resources may not be as many as Python’s or Ruby’s, but they are enough to teach everything you need to create applications. 

#7. Concurrency and parallelism

Programs are sometimes required to perform multiple tasks at a go. Concurrency and parallelism are two features in programming languages that make this a reality. 

Python uses threads and processes to support concurrency. You can use libraries like asyncio and threading to achieve concurrency. Python uses the Multiprocessing module to support parallelism. 

Ruby uses its fibers feature to offer native support for concurrency. This language uses the ‘parallel’ gem to support parallelism. The gem offers a way to distribute different tasks across different CPUs. 

Go uses channels and goroutines to support concurrency. Channels are a way of communicating between channels. 

Python, Ruby, or Go? Which one should you pick?

The three languages are perfect for web development. Each of these languages has its strengths and weaknesses. However, after careful analysis, you will note that there are some instances you might decide to pick one language over the others. 

When to pick Python

Pick Python when looking for a mature language. Python has a big ecosystem, and you can use frameworks like Django and Flask in web development. This language has built-in functions and many third-party tools and libraries to ease your web development process. 

When to pick Ruby

Ruby is a perfect fit when you are looking for rapid prototyping in your web development project. Rails is one of the most famous Ruby frameworks with many built-in features and generators to ease web development. You can also bank on the large Ruby Gems library in your web development process. 

When to pick Go

Go, or GoLang, is a perfect choice when you are looking for high-performance and scalable web apps. However, the ecosystem of Go might not be that big compared to Python’s or Ruby’s. 

Python, Ruby, and Go: Jobs and Salaries

The three languages have different median salaries. Let us compare the yearly pay for Python, Ruby, and Go engineers using the ZipRecruiter website’s data. 

Python engineers earn an average of $143,889 /year. Python engineers are more in demand than Ruby and Go, as Python is a general-purpose programming language. The adoption of Python is also higher than the rest. 

Ruby engineers, specifically those who use Ruby on Rails, earn an average of $130,177 /year. Ruby has fewer jobs than Python but higher than Go. 

Go engineers average $120,625 /year. This language has the lowest adoption rates among the three. 

Note: Even though we have provided these figures, it is worth noting that experience is the determining factor for salaries. For instance, you may find a senior Go engineer earning higher than a junior Python engineer. Other factors that will determine the salary of an engineer are the company size, job responsibilities, and industry. 

Conclusion

You can now tell the similarities and differences between Python, Ruby, and Go programming languages. As a learner, Python is the easiest to learn. Ruby is also easy to learn and focuses on conciseness. Go might be harder than the two but simpler than other compiled languages like C++. 

If you want to use any of these languages in web development, the choice of which language to use will depend on the kind of project, the features you want to implement, and your likes and preferences. 

  • Titus Kamunya
    Author
    Titus is a Software Engineer and Technical Writer. He develops web apps and writes on SaaS, React, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby and Ruby on Rails read more
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