I don't know about Ruby, but I disagree that Perl is easy to learn. Perl has tons and tons of features, quirks, special cases, and its own lexicon of idioms.
Maybe I should have been more precise here. I want to say: It is easy to get quickly to a point where you can write useful programs. Of course by then you know only a small subset. For instance, I wrote my first useful Perl program after having read about 3-4 hours the introduction in the Camel book. Before that, I wrote programs in C++, C, Tcl, ksh, Pascal and some other languages. I found that with Perl I became productive quickly.
With Ruby, I found it somewhat faster to "go productive" and the language seems to me easier for beginners. I was teaching an absolute beginner Ruby as the first programming languages, and after maybe 10 hours in total, she was using it to write a 50+ line program which actually solved a concrete task (not a toy problem).
In this respect, both Perl and Ruby are easy to start with, I think. But any language with a lot of features take time to learn. Even languages with a simple syntax, like Java or Lisp, do. With those languages, the "experience" needed to master them is in understanding the libraries, respectively the functions.
May I ask you which languages you consider as simple to learn?
Ronald Fischer <email@example.com>
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