The Rubyist Historian: The Series

Coming off my recent post on How I Learned Code, I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts that will introduce historians to the basics of Ruby that I will eventually publish as a free ebook. My hope is to write an accessible introduction to Ruby and demonstrate not only how to write small programs but also think about ways programming can help scholars in their everyday tasks. Although I’m aiming this at historians, my hope is that anyone interested in humanist computing (or Ruby in general) will find this useful. Watch here, follow me on Twitter, or subscribe to catch updates as I produce them.

You can find copies of code examples in the Rubyist Historian Github repository. The blog series will be available as a free Anthologize ebook download once it’s completed.


1: Getting Started
2: Methods and Classes
3: Loops and Control Structures
4: Arrays and Hashes
5: Working with Advanced Data
6: Randomness
7: Our First Program


The structure, examples, and topics that comprise this blog series are directly inspired by and drawn from Prof. Stephen Ramsay’s course ENGL 4/878: Electronic Text, which I took during the Fall 2010 term at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Thanks, Steve, for encouraging the hacker in all of us. Any mistakes, errors, or lousy explanations are my responsibility alone.

Many thanks to additional resources I consulted for example ideas and help with explanations. These resources include Dave Thomas, Programming Ruby 1.9: The Pragmatic Programmer’s Guide, The Unofficial Ruby Usage Guide, and Ruby Inside. Other resources are included with each section.

December 10, 2010 @jaheppler