On Friday 21 January 2011 19:13:47 Hilary Bailey wrote:
> This is my second attempt to understand Ruby.  I completely read 1)
> "Beginning Ruby- From Novice to Professional (which to me is a
> completely waste of time), 2) The Pragmatic approach to Ruby (which is
> incomplete)3)Ruby in 20 minutes, 4)other 15 to 20 minutes cute intro
> programs 5) Shoes and now 6)The Book of Ruby by Huw Collingourne, which
> seems like a bible without a compiler, which may be totally useless.
> 
> Is there anyone out there that could make my experience to Ruby
> practical and meaningful? As noted previously, I am a school teacher
> trying to create an education database software for administrators and
> teachers which will hold educational institutions accountable for the
> performance of their school district. My only programming experience is
> the confusion I had trying to read and comprehend the above sources that
> do not offer a stable compiler or the appropriate programs that will go
> hand in hand with their book or resource for Ruby.
> 
> Is there a free compiler and other supporting software that I can use to
> make my so far miserable learning Ruby experience worth a while?  So far
> I am still sold on the idea that Ruby is the programing language to
> know, but at this moment I really need HELP.
> 
> Tk in advance,
> 
> Hilary

First, you don't need a compiler to use ruby. Ruby is an interpreted language, 
which means that to execute a program written in ruby, you pass it to the 
source file (which is a plain text file) to the ruby interpreter which will 
take care of interpreting it and executing it. There's no compilation step 
involved in this, which is the reason you found no reference to a compiler.

As for books, you can try with the first edition of Programming Ruby, which is 
freely availlable online at http://www.ruby-doc.org/docs/ProgrammingRuby/. 
It's written for an old version of ruby, but it still is useful. There are new 
editions for new versions of ruby (edition 2 for ruby 1.8 and edition 3 for 
ruby 1.9), but you have to buy them.

Regarding supporting software, that depends which operating system you use.

If you're on Windows, then there's the RubyInstaller project 
(http://rubyinstaller.org/) which provides the basic tool needed to work with 
ruby (I'm not completely sure about what it provides, as I don't use Windows 
myself).

If you're on Linux, then ruby is surely included in your distribution.

If you're on another operating system, then I don't know what your options 
are, but surely there's someone else who knows.

I hope this helps

Stefano