Yukihiro Matsumoto, better known as Matz, is the creator of the programming language Ruby. Ruby is very fashionable at the moment, completely object orientated, powerful, high level and above all fun to work with.
Ruby is a programming language that has been evolving quickly and it jumped to prominence on the world stage thanks to a revolutionary application called Ruby on Rails.
Matz studied Information Sciences at the University of Tsukuba, where the famous Nobel Physicist Leo Esaki also studied. Coincidentally I had the honour of meeting with Leo Esaki last week at a business conference in Kyoto where we both presented papers. At this meeting I gave a talk about the phenomenon of Blogging in Japan.
Matz, a father of forty, is a very pleasant and affable person. What most surprised me most about him was his sense of humour because not all Japanese have the same sense of humour as ourselves. I would like to thank Matz for the time that he spent with me and I hope that you the reader will enjoy the interview I had with him.
Question. The language Ruby has grown enormously throughout the world since 1995. However, the latest statistics from TIOBE (October 2005) show that it is still not among the most popular programming languages (listed only at number 27). Why do you think Ruby is taking so long to become an option for the world's companies? What barriers does it have to overcome to succeed? Do you see Ruby in all computing courses at universities in the future?
Answer. In contrast to other computing applications, languages often propagate quite slowly. Only sometimes a language for a specific purpose (like PHP) or a language strongly supported by multinationals (like JAVA) is embraced rapidly by the community. Most of the time, decades can pass before a language is used throughout the world. For most languages, it is a stroke of luck if it becomes known before it vanishes. Ruby has been very lucky. This is mostly thanks to Rails.
Q. What do you think are the killer applications that are written in Ruby?
A. Rails, of course. Although I don't use Rails myself now, I think that it is a great user application. I also hope that users can find Ruby useful in other application areas. I would highlight Ruby as a great language for text processing and system administration. In any case, I believe that you can use Ruby for anything you want, and in addition have fun with it.
Q. Ruby has made programming fun again. Rails has made web programming fun. What do you think will be the next steps in programming for fun?
A. From programming Palm computers to programming super computers. From embedded programming to bioinformatics. Programming should always be fun.
Q. What do you think of the new programming architectures that are currently emerging, like Model Driven Applications? Do you think that at some point the need to write code will disappear and we will only have to model data and processes?
A. Frankly, I don't believe it. Not because these architectures are not useful but because writing code is too enjoyable to stop doing it. I am convinced that the people who give up creating code don't actually enjoy writing it themselves. However, I believe that we will have to keep an eye on these new technologies in the near future.
Q. Matz, you have done a lot in your life up until now. If I can still remember how to count, you celebrated your 40th birthday recently. Do you still have a dream that you haven't yet achieved?
A. To see my grandson, honestly [laughter]. Apart from that, I would like to see a ubiquitous programming language in which we could program everything. I would be very proud to see that Ruby has some influence in that. I know that this is a distant dream, but I hope to see it and teach it to my grandson ;-)
Q. What is your favourite quotation?
A. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”, Mahatma Gandhi. “If you can name it correctly, then you can do it correctly”, Anonymous.
I hope you liked the interview, best wishes from hectic Japan.
Matsumoto, better known as Matz, is the creator of the
programming language Ruby.
Ruby is very fashionable at the moment, completely object orientated,
powerful, high level and above all fun to work with.
E-mail comments to: