Ruby is an interpreted, object-oriented scripting language that is often compared to Python and Smalltalk. It has a very "pure" object model in the sense that everything is an object, even literal values like
3, and values such as
It features a very clean syntax which is light on punctuation and often offers various forms of expressing the same construct, which enables you to select the clearest option in a given circumstance and produce very readable (and therefore maintainable) code. I personally find it to be less idiosyncratic and "schizophrenic" than Perl as there are fewer quirks to remember and the Ruby community tends to have a more consistent notion of what constitutes good "Ruby style".
It has been very popular for some time in Japan, and recently has enjoyed increasing popularity elsewhere, partly driven by the interest in Ruby on Rails. A Ruby to Cocoa bridge was shipped by Apple with the Mac OS X, Leopard.
It’s my scripting language of choice for anything that goes beyond trivial shell scripts (where I still prefer Bash); as soon as the task at hand grows to the point where it would best be split up into multiple files, the object-oriented design and packaging features (modules, gems) make Ruby a very appealing choice. My largest projects to date in and for Ruby are Walrus, an older version of this website (built on Rails), and my wikitext module.