why the lucky stiff
|why the lucky stiff|
_why at RailsConf Europe
|Other names||why, _why|
|Occupation||Ruby programmer, author, musician|
|Known for||Why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby, Camping|
Jonathan Gillette, better known as why the lucky stiff (often abbreviated to Why or _why), was until 2009 a prolific writer, cartoonist, artist, and computer programmer notable for his work with the Ruby programming language. He was known as "one of the most unusual, and beloved, computer programmers" in the world before he abruptly disappeared from public view. Along with Yukihiro Matsumoto and David Heinemeier Hansson, he was seen as a key figure in the Ruby community.
_why was the keynote speaker at RailsConf in 2006. He also had a speaking session titled "A Starry Afternoon, a Sinking Symphony, and the Polo Champ Who Gave It All Up for No Reason Whatsoever" at the 2005 O'Reilly Open Source Convention held in Portland, Oregon. It explored how to teach programming and make it more appealing to adolescents.
On 19 August 2009, his online presence was drastically truncated; his accounts on Twitter and GitHub were shut down, along with many of his personally maintained sites. His projects have since been collected and centralized on the whymirror GitHub account.
On 5 January 2013, _why's site was found to be back online. The front page has been updated to point to documents readable by a printer. These documents include notes and cartoons similar to _why's previous writings, which seem to indicate that _why may be emerging from his absence.
His best known work is Why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby, which "teaches Ruby with stories." Paul Adams of Webmonkey describes its eclectic style as resembling a "collaboration between Stan Lem and Ed Lear". Chapter three was published in The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky.
Try Ruby is an online interactive learning tool that provided a browser-based Ruby shell and an instructor that guided beginners through their first steps in Ruby. Since Why's disappearance, the project has been continued in spirit at Try Ruby
His final project before his internet retirement, Hackety Hack, is a Ruby- and Shoes- based environment intended to bring the power, freedom, and simplicity of BASIC programming to the current generation, with special intent to be accessible to children.
_why is the author of several libraries and applications, most of them written in or for Ruby.
- Camping, a microframework inspired by Ruby on Rails and based on Markaby that is less than 4 kilobytes.
- Park Place, a "nearly complete clone of the Amazon S3 web service."
- Hobix, a YAML-based weblog application written in Ruby
- Hpricot, an HTML parser
- Markaby, (markup as Ruby), a DSL to generate valid HTML using Ruby blocks and methods instead of tags.
- MouseHole, a personal web proxy that can rewrite the web à la Greasemonkey
- the RedCloth library, which implements the Textile markup language
- the Sandbox, a library for managing several Ruby environments in a single process
- Syck, a YAML library for C, Ruby, and several other languages. Syck has been a part of standard Ruby libraries since Ruby version 1.8.0.
- Shoes, a UI toolkit "for Making Web-like Desktop Apps"
- unHoly, A Ruby bytecode to Python bytecode converter, for running Ruby applications on the Google Application Engine
- potion, a tiny, fast programming language with a JIT compiler, closure support and an object model built around mixins
- bloopsaphone, a crossplatform chiptune-like synth, based on PortAudio with a Ruby frontend
He has illustrated The Ruby Programming Language, authored by David Flanagan and Yukihiro Matsumoto. He also dedicates his illustration every year to RubyKaigi, the biggest Ruby conference in Japan, similar to RubyConf.
Real identity 
_why never publicly revealed his own identity while he was active as _why. Shortly before he left the public eye, an anonymous blog was posted, identifying him as Jonathan Gillette, and offering detailed information about his identity, including his schooling, his address, his membership in the band The Child Who Was a Keyhole, and the identity of his spouse. At the time, he did not make any statement on his being outed.
While his offline identity was considered common knowledge in the Ruby coding community, it remained unconfirmed until a 2012 article in Slate magazine quoted a statement from a fellow programmer saying, "Jonathan is _why, he is fine, and he just wants to be left alone."
- Lowrey, Annie (15 March 2012). "Where’s _why? What happened when one of the world’s most unusual, and beloved, computer programmers disappeared". Slate. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "_Why: A Tale of A Post-Modern Genius". Smashing Magazine. 2010-05-15. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- "RailsConf Keynote: Why the Lucky Stiff". Scribe media. 2006 Nov 25. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- "O'Reilly Open Source Convention 2005". O’Reilly. 2005-08-04. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- ""why the lucky stiff" Vanishes". The H Open Source. Heise. 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- "Why mirror". Git hub. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- Why the lucky stiff.
- "_why's site is back up". Hacker News. Y combinator. 2013-01-06. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- Fitzgerald, Michael (2007). Learning Ruby. O'Reilly. ISBN 0-596-52986-4.
- Richardson, Leonard (2006). Ruby Cookbook. O'Reilly. ISBN 0-596-52369-6.
- Adams, Paul, ed. (2003). "Getting Your Feet Wet With Ruby On Rails". Archived from the original on 2006-12-31.
- Spolsky, Joel, ed. (2005). The Best Software Writing I. Apress. ISBN 978-1-59059-500-8.
- Try Ruby.
- Advanced Rails. O'Reilly. 2007. p. 235. ISBN 0-596-51032-2.
- Beginning Ruby: From Novice to Professional. Apress. 2007. p. 443. ISBN 978-1-59059-766-8.
- Standard Library documentation for Syck[dead link]
- InfoQ: Ruby Shoes for lightweight GUIs, graphics and animation
- O'Reilly Network: Shoes Meets Merb: Driving a GUI App through Web Services in Ruby
- Flanagan, David; Matsumoto, Yukihiro. The Ruby Programming Language. O'Reilly. ISBN 978-0-596-51617-8.
- "Art && Code Symposium: Hackety Hack, why the lucky stiff". Vimeo. March 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- "Who is Jonathan Gillette?", Who is why the lucky stiff, Posterous, archived from the original on August 21, 2009.
- A video of _why's public lecture at the Art and Code Conference, March 2009
- Episode of the Ruby on Rails Podcast about Camping
- A list of _why's open-source projects (which points to a new location for source code)
- Shoes Roundup: Ruby GUI App Development Goodness, lists a few resources for Ruby/Shoes development
- Soundtrack for the book, Why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby
- RedHanded, a defunct blog dedicated to Ruby culture
- RubyKaigi2008 Goodies, _why's illustration used in RubyKaigi2008 (Japanese page)
- RubyKaigi2007 Goodies, _why's illustration(s) used in RubyKaigi2007 (Japanese page)
- _why's estate
- WhyDay 19 August 2010