NOTE: This post was originally published in April, 2014. It was last updated in November, 2019.
Created by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto and first released (as version 0.95) in 1995, Ruby didn’t become massively popular until a decade later, when David Heinemeier Hanssen's Ruby on Rails web application framework appeared on the scene. Today, the language boasts an enormous global online community of "Rubyists" that uses it for everything from NASA simulations and the Metasploit security framework to Google SketchUp’s macro scripting API and web applications like Basecamp and A List Apart.
The following list of developers represents a rich cross-section of the Ruby community. Some are best known as community advocates and activists; others have played a pivotal role in Ruby's evolution as a language and pushed its limits in production settings. All are worth following for their insights, activism, coding prowess, and collective wisdom on learning and working with Ruby.
Sarah is CEO and Founder of Bridge Foundry, an organization dedicated to helping people from underrepresented communities around the world learn to code. She also co-founded RailsBridge, a “free and fun” way for people to learn Rails, Ruby, and other web technologies. Sarah’s career includes early dev work on After Effects and Shockwave, leading an infrastructure team at Google Cloud Platform, and serving as the 2013 Presidential Innovation Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution.
Avdi is an independent software consultant and trainer known for his Ruby Tapas screencasts: over 500 “laser-focused” episodes covering style, patterns, practices, tools, essential libraries, and other advanced Ruby training topics. Avdi is an occasional co-host on the Greater Than Code podcast and has authored four books on Ruby, including the seminal Objects on Rails. He’s a 2016 Ruby Hero award winner.
Aman is a Ruby core committer and former executive at GitHub, where he led the infrastructure team that scaled the org to millions of repositories across multiple datacenters worldwide. As a developer, Aman’s achievements include rbtrace, perftools.rb, stackprof, and gctools; more recently, he has branched out into golang and ffmpeg. His blog is no longer active, but you can still catch up with Aman on his Twitter account or at GitHub.
David Heinemeier Hanssen
David’s background is the stuff of legend: a programmer whose work as cofounder and CTO at Basecamp evolved into an open source project that would quickly become one of the world’s most popular web frameworks, Ruby on Rails. David is also a best-selling author and Le Mans class-winning racing driver (and as we write this, he’s probably hanging out with Tony Stark).
Terence is currently a senior Ruby engineer at Heroku; his work there includes leading Heroku’s Ruby Task Force curating the Ruby experience on the platform. His Ruby development highlights include work on mruby, mruby-cli, Bundler, and Resque; he is also a key contributor to the Rails Girls movement. Terence is a 2013 Ruby Hero award winner.
If you think it’s never too early for kids to learn coding, then you’ll love Linda, who wrote and illustrated the children’s book Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding. She also co-founded the Rails Girls initiative, which teaches coding skills to young women in 260 cities around the world. Linda is a Ruby Hero award winner and was named “Digital Champion of Finland” by the European Commission in 2013.
Akira is the founder of Asakusa.rb—the most active Ruby online community in Japan, and by extension one of the most active in the world—and the chief organizer of RubyKaigi, one of the world’s biggest Ruby conferences. Akira is also a key committer to Ruby and Ruby on Rails, the creator of the RubyGems package manager, and the developer of Kaminari and ActionArgs.
Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto
“Matz” is the Ruby community’s founder and undisputed leader. He continues to maintain Ruby’s MRI reference implementation (also known as CRuby); and maintains mruby, a lightweight Ruby implementation designed to link and embed within other applications. Fire up Google Translate to access Matz’s Twitter feed, or just start with this interview.
Desi is currently CTO and cofounder of Nanno, an on-demand childcare platform. Desi is a widely respected Rubyist whose career has included stints at ThoughtWorks, Hashrocket, thoughtbot, and Pivotal Labs. Desi is also the founder of DevChix, an organization dedicated to training, mentoring, and advocating for women software developers.
Sarah is a software architect at Salesforce, but that's just her day job. She co-founded RailsBridge and, later, Bridge Foundry with Sarah Allen. She also sits on the board of of Ruby Together, a non-profit dedicated to "preserving and strengthening the Ruby language infrastructure." Sarah serves as a director of Ruby Central, which runs RubyConf and RailsConf—two of the world's biggest Ruby conferences.
Sandi Metz makes it clear: programming is her profession. But she's also a talented educator and outspoken proponent of "SOLID, object-oriented design." Most of her talks from the past decade or so are online at Confreaks, Vimeo, and YouTube. You can also learn more about her programming principles in her book, Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby or even via one-on-one custom training sessions.
Erik (Michaels-Ober) Berlin
Erik's career includes work as a software engineer at firms like Instacart and Soundcloud, and executive roles as CTO as social advertising firm 140 Proof and currently as CEO of social podcasting platform Breaker. Erik is also a 2011 Code for America Fellow and the author of many popular Ruby libraries.
How did a veteran Java developer and senior software engineer at Red Hat land in a post about leading Ruby developers? For more than a decade, he has helped to lead the JRuby core team, bringing Ruby language support to the Java VM. Charles also maintains an active blog and Twitter feed, both of which are a rich source of hard-core Ruby coding insights.
Katrina is currently an ecosystem engineer at GitHub. She co-authored a book on object-oriented programming with Sandi Metz, but her best known achievement might be her work as the creator of exercism.io, which offers, "Code practice and mentorship for everyone" and now includes more than 3,000 exercises across 52 languages.
Don't let Aaron's provocative, slightly creepy, and utterly irrelevant moniker put you off: He's actually a very accomplished Rubyist whose responsibilities include maintaining the Ruby and Rails repository at GitHub. He's also a sought-after public speaker; a committer to Nokogiri, Ruby, and Ruby on Rails; and a 2010 Ruby Hero award winner.
Mike is another member of the exclusive programmer-turned-CEO club. He's currently the author and maintainer of Sidekiq, Sidekiq Pro, and Sidekiq Enterprise (the background job framework for Ruby), while also serving as founder and CEO of Contributed Systems,
Evan is a director of Ruby Central, an organization "dedicated to the support and advocacy of the worldwide Ruby community" that also organizes two of the world's biggest Ruby events, RubyConf and RailsConf. Evan is also the co-founder and CEO of Vektra and previously served as Rubinius lead at Engine Yard.
Stack Overflow: stackoverflow.com/users/17174/sam-saffron
Koichi is a computer scientist and engineer at Cookpad. He's also a Ruby core committer and the developer of YARV, a bytecode interpreter designed to greatly reduce the runtime of Ruby programs. Koichi is a 2016 Ruby Hero award winner.
Charlie is a systems engineer at GitHub and a contributor to numerous Ruby and open source projects. Charlie's website may be one of the most interesting—or frustrating, depending on your point of view—works of guerrilla art you'll encounter online these days. (Hint: It helps to have an abnormal fondness of 1990s Microsoft Windows releases if you plan to pay a visit.)