Ruby vs Ruby on Rails: What’s the Difference?

Ruby provides a wide range of built-in libraries for developers. It also provides a package manager called RubyGems with a collection of packages, called gems, created by other developers within the Ruby community. These gems can build on or change the capabilities and functionalities of existing Ruby applications.

Ruby provides many benefits over other programming languages. It also comes with a few drawbacks. The lists below highlight some of Ruby’s advantages (and disadvantages). Consider these points when deciding whether Ruby is right for your use case or whether you’d instead use a language like Python or C#.


  • Easy to use and offers out-of-the-box features for development.
  • Lots of third-party libraries developed by a friendly community of Ruby developers.
  • Designed to increase productivity and minimize work — so it boasts faster development times than other languages.


  • Performance can be slow because of high memory consumption and inefficient garbage collection.
  • A general-purpose language but more suited for web development — it fares badly in other areas like desktop development.
  • Still seen as a niche language despite having been developed a lot since it was introduced. Because of this, it does not attract as many developers as its counterparts, like Python.

Many people conflate Ruby and Ruby on Rails. As a result, despite several principal differences, their similar names and shared origin continue to confuse — especially among newer developers.

For example, you can use two different methods on an integer using the dot notation to find the absolute value and raise it to the power of three, all in one line. Take a look at the code below. Here, abs is used to find the absolute value of -3, and pow(3) raises the absolute value of -3 to the power of 3.

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Like Ruby, Ruby on Rails was more prevalent in its early years and has taken a step back as new frameworks emerged. Despite that, it’s matured over the years and has secured a significant following. Developers still choose Rails because it follows conventions that bring structure to development, making the code easy to read and write and speeding up the development process and time to market.

Uses for Ruby on Rails

This article discussed the understandable confusion that arises from the similarly named Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Now that we’ve walked through the history and popularity of Ruby and Ruby on Rails and explained the significant and essential differences between the two, it’s clear they’re not the same thing.

However, it is the best way to learn, and you will have to learn Ruby eventually. It’s always best to learn the basics of the programming language on which the framework is based before jumping into the framework.

This is true for other frameworks. For example, Laravel is written in PHP, and Nest.js is written in Typescript. So, it is more beneficial to learn PHP before jumping into Laravel or learn Typescript before jumping into Nest.js.


The differences were made apparent by listing and explaining some of the more common uses for Ruby and Ruby on Rails, their advantages and disadvantages, and by listing some popular sites, apps, and tools written in Ruby or using the Ruby on Rails framework.

Some examples include:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ruby

Now that we have discussed the differences between Ruby and Ruby on Rails, you might be wondering which one to learn first: the language or the framework. Choose the language first. So, if you want to master Ruby on Rails, first learn Ruby on its own. Learning Ruby first is not a requirement for learning Ruby on Rails.

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