Zed Shaw

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Zed Shaw
Zed Shaw in Montreal cropped.jpg
Shaw in Montreal, 2008
OccupationSoftware developer

Zed A. Shaw is a software developer best known for creating the Learn Code the Hard Way series of programming tutorials, as well as for creating the Mongrel web server for Ruby web applications,[1]. He is also well known for his polemical views on programming languages and communities.


Shaw authored the Mongrel web server for Ruby web applications.[2] Mongrel was the first web server used by Twitter, and inspired Node.js, according to its creator Ryan Dahl.[3] Mongrel2 is the language-agnostic successor to Mongrel.

He has also written a Python mail server called Lamson,[4] on which the mailing list site LibreList is built.

Learn Code the Hard Way[edit]

Shaw is the author of learncodethehardway.org, which offers to teach users Python, Ruby, C, Regex, and SQL.[5]

Polemics and controversies[edit]

Shaw has been outspoken in his criticism of certain programming language and technical communities.

Ruby on Rails[edit]

His most famous and well-covered piece was the article "Rails is a Ghetto"[6][7] which has since been removed from his site.[8]

Opposition to Python 3[edit]

"There is a high probability that Python 3 is such a failure it will kill Python." - Zed Shaw

Shaw has a long-standing rant opposing Python 3, where he finds the new string type difficult to use, and as a result believes it should not be adopted. Nonetheless, in February 2017 he published a first draft of Learn Python 3 The Hard Way.[9][better source needed]

He stated in November 2016 that "Python 3 is not Turing complete" due to claims from Python project developers that Python 2 code cannot be made to run in the Python 3 VM.[10] This statement has drawn a lot of criticism.[11]

Criticism of certain behaviors within startup culture[edit]

Shaw has spoken about the amounts of vague and misleading information that is pervasive on the startup and entrepreneur culture, particularly concerning self-proclaimed startup advisors or entrepreneurship "gurus", having demonstrated publicly how some notable figures in the industry appear to speak and provide advice from a background of success that they never actually attained.[12]

Shaw is also behind an initiative entitled "Programming, Motherfucker", whose manifesto claims that programmers are "tired of being told we're socially awkward idiots who need to be manipulated to work in a Forced Pair Programming chain gang."[13]


  • Mongrel (Digital Shortcut): Serving, Deploying, and Extending Your Ruby Applications. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006. ISBN 9780132701778
  • Professional Ruby Collection: Mongrel, Rails Plugins, Rails Routing, Refactoring to REST, and Rubyisms CD1 (Ruby Series). Addison-Wesley Professional, 2007. ISBN 0132417995
  • Learn Python the Hard Way. Self-published (1st and 2nd Editions), 2010 and 2011. ISBN 978-0321884916 and ISBN 978-1257853212
  • The Command Line Crash Course. Self-published, 2011.
  • Learn Regex the Hard Way. Self-published, 2011.
  • Learn SQL the Hard Way. Self-published, 2011.
  • Learn Python the Hard Way: A Very Simple Introduction to the Terrifyingly Beautiful World of Computers and Code 3rd edition. Republished under Addison-Wesley Professional, 2013. ISBN 978-0321884916
  • Learn Ruby the Hard Way: A Simple and Idiomatic Introduction to the Imaginative World Of Computational Thinking with Code. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2014 ISBN 978-0321884992
  • Learn C the Hard Way: Practical Exercises on the Computational Subjects You Keep Avoiding (Like C) (Zed Shaw's Hard Way Series). Addison-Wesley Professional, 2015. ISBN 978-0321884923
  • Mongrel: Learn to Build the Greatest Ruby Web Server Ever. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2015. ISBN 978-0321503091
  • Learn Python 3 the Hard Way: A Very Simple Introduction to the Terrifyingly Beautiful World of Computers and Code (Zed Shaw's Hard Way Series). Addison-Wesley Professional, 2017. ISBN 978-0134692883


  1. ^ Mallett, Steve (17 May 2006). "Zed on Ruby, Rails, Mongrel, and More". O'Reilly. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  2. ^ Eyler, Pat (24 Aug 2006). "Making waves in the Ruby world". Linux Journal. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  3. ^ Synodinos, Dio (13 Dec 2010). "Deep inside Node.js with Ryan Dahl". InfoQ. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  4. ^ Dziuba, Ted (3 July 2009). "Lamson - email app coding without the palm sweat". The Register. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  5. ^ Shaw, Zed. "About Learn Code The Hard Way". Retrieved 2015-08-01.
  6. ^ Arrington, Michael (1 Jan 2008). "Zed Shaw Puts The Smack Down On The Rails Community". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  7. ^ Manchester, Phil (8 Jan 2008). "Uncertainty for Ruby and Rails despite changes: Zed rails, Bray dizzy". The Register. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  8. ^ "Rails is A Ghetto". Archived from the original on 2008-01-07.
  9. ^ https://learnpythonthehardway.org/python3/
  10. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20161123042252/https://learnpythonthehardway.org/book/nopython3.html
  11. ^ https://eev.ee/blog/2016/11/23/a-rebuttal-for-python-3/
  12. ^ https://vimeo.com/53494258
  13. ^ "Programming, Motherfucker Do you speak it?". Retrieved 2015-04-20.

External links[edit]