Now after the hype surrounding the language has died down somewhat, I'm getting acquainted with Ruby and learning the ropes.

To guide me through the Ruby syntactic jungle is O'Reilly's 'Learning Ruby' book. I checked out the ubiquitous Pragmatic Programmer's 'Programming Ruby', but the third edition seems more suited to stopping doors than teaching Ruby.

Reading through the first few chapters of 'Learning Ruby' has left me a little nostalgic of the early 90s when I was going through my first programming book 'Learning Perl'. Maybe it's the title similarities but mostly it's that Ruby's syntax feels as slippery to me as Perl's did.

I don't mean that in an endearing way.

While I'm in love with blocks (or closures whatever you prefer) and Procs and Mixins (Traits), a simple thing scares me. Constants.

Constant, the word is pretty clear in its meaning. It is a value which remains stable over time. Wikipedia says: 'a constant is a special kind of variable whose value cannot typically be altered by the program during its execution'. Collins dictionary says: ‘something that does not or cannot change or vary’.

Ruby though, says no. Constants are just global variables declared capitalised. Oh sorry that should be capitalized. Ruby doesn’t speak English, only American. A constant in Ruby is about as constant as your discipline. If you REALLY want to change its value, Ruby wont stand in your way, or even make it that hard to do.

That really, really concerns me. Part of the appeal of Ruby, I guess, is that it lets you do things you want, your way. Maybe it’s ‘Fear’ but I really don’t want to have to worry about my constants changing. Ruby makes a big deal of its ‘duck typing’ You know, if it quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Unfortunately in Ruby a constant quacks like a duck but it bites like a hippo.