If you’re applying to multiple coding bootcamps, you want to know that you’re going to be learning the right things to get a job after you graduate. When I was applying, the biggest question I had was “Should I learn Ruby or JavaScript?” Having attended App Academy, gone through the job hunting phase, and worked as a developer for over a year, I’m going to give you a breakdown of the differences between Ruby and JavaScript to help you decide which one to focus on.

Languages per Program

If you attend a full stack dev bootcamp, you're going to learn how to create the frontend and backend of a web application. The frontend handles interacting with the user. For example, right now you're interacting with the frontend of this blog. The backend handles all of the logic that users don’t see, such as logging someone in. Many developers have strong opinions about which languages to use. Below is a breakdown of the languages that some of the top dev bootcamps in the country teach.


App Academy Flatiron Fullstack Academy Codesmith
Front End JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript
Back End Ruby Ruby JavaScript JavaScript

JavaScript for All

No matter where you go to learn full stack web development, you’re going to learn JavaScript. Why, because the web runs on JavaScript. When you visit a website, click on a button, and an image or modal pops up, that’s JavaScript. Developers use JavaScript to provide dynamic functionality to websites. You can even make browser games in JavaScript. Since websites use JavaScript to provide functionally, all full stack programs, including the ones App Academy and Flatiron School that teach Ruby, will teach you JavaScript for the frontend.

Ruby or JavaScript

When you hear people wondering if they should learn Ruby or JavaScript, it's in reference to what they use for their backend. For the backend, Ruby is used with a framework called Rails. JavaScript is used with Node.js. Historically, Ruby has been extremely popular, but recently, Node.js has gained vast ground.

Job Prospects

Since we all want to get hired after graduating from our bootcamps, let's take a look at the job prospects for Rails and Node.js. Since Ruby uses Rails and JavaScript uses Node.js, we can use Rails and Node.js as benchmarks for the demand for Ruby and JavaScript.

The chart above shows the percentage of job postings for Rails and Node.js. As you can see, both are fairly close in terms of percentage, but Node has gained popularity over the years.

Pros and Cons

Now that we have a benchmark for the demand for each language, let's talk about what makes Rails and Node.js popular.

Ruby on Rails

Rails, often referred to as Ruby on Rails, is a framework used to develop web applications. In 2017, Airbnb, Crunchbase, GitHub, Zendesk, and Soundcloud all used Ruby on Rails. Below are some pros and cons of using Rails.

Pros

  • Many developer use Rails to quickly develop prototypes.
  • Rails' paradigms make it easy to work on new applications.
  • Rails has a strong testing culture.

Cons

  • It can be slow.
  • Paradigms that make it easy to switch between applications can be restrictive.

Node.js

Unlike Rails, Node.js is not a web framework. It's a server environment that uses JavaScript. Some companies that use Node are Netflix, LinkedIn, Trello, and Uber. Below are some pros and cons of using Rails.

Pros

  • It uses JavaScript on the backend and frontend. So developers can work full stack more easily.
  • Code can be shared between the frontend and backend.
  • There is a large amount of packages. Packages are code that someone else has written that you use in your applications.

Cons

  • It's not suited for cpu intensive tasks.
  • It's asynchronous nature can make debugging difficult

Which Should I Learn

Given all that we know now, should you attend at a bootcamp that teaches full stack JavaScript or Ruby for the backend? Like many things in programming, there is no 1 correct path. The truth is that both are great options. I use Ruby on Rails every day at my company, and I think it's a great framework. At the same time, many of my friends swear by Node.js and JavaScript. If you're trying to decide whether to learn Ruby or JavaScript for your backend, think about your long run goals and go from there.



This article was written as part of the Coding Bootcamp Prep course. The course is dedicated to providing people of all skill levels the knowledge they need to get admitted to the country's top coding bootcamps.