Is C better than Ruby?

Yesterday I stumbled into this through hacker news and well, maybe the guy hasn’t really grasped the whole client-server paradigm thing but here he really made a point :

We’re engineers, and we make machines work. You use the best tool for the job to do that. You don’t choose some pretty language [Ruby] that “brings back the joy of coding” or equivalent hippy shit.

And more:

C is the dominant language right now and probably for the distant future. It’s the lingua franca of computing. Nearly every server application worth a damn is written in C.

Well, the guy here maybe needs to chill out a bit but I think he’s right: C is here to stay. Planning to use anything else for a large project where performance is crucial is insane (Java and C#, you heard me :-)). C is a really powerful and valuable tool, and every developer should have at least some knowledge of it: I started out with C64 Basic, then Assembly for a long, long time, then lots of C, after that Java, VB, C# and then Ruby. I know people like Why are promoting Ruby as a learning language but honestly, I can’t really imagine someone with no knowledge of C writing good Ruby.

But probably in the 70’s somebody made similar statements, just replacing C with FORTRAN. Right now, C is the language. What about it in 10 years? I’m really, really surprised every time I read such statements: they make me feel like story never happened. No wonder Berlusconi is gonna win the elections with 70% of the votes next week.

And even if C is the best all-purpose tool we have now, what’s the point in using it even if the situation would allow a not-so performant but much more pleasant to use tool instead? Is there some kind of pride to gain in being miserable doing your job that I’m not seeing? Ruby performs like crap, but it’s a pleasure to work with. And 99% of the times nobody cares about performance.

All these things have been said countless times by people way more authoritative than I will ever be but it seems there’s still need to state them clear…


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