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"Ruby" is just a synonym for "a reasonable language" :-) Python will do as well.
The issue you see with the .exe returning immediate is because "klayout_app.exe" is built as a GUI application. On Windows, an application behaving the way you expect it needs to be built as a console application. So this is a compile-time decision, not a switch. The "-b" switch can't change the mode the application runs.
I rarely got the request for a console executable (although that's possible). I guess most users trying to embed KLayout in a scripted flow are simply working on Linux.
yes, on Linux there is no difference between a console and GUI application. Just run klayout with -b and it will return when it's finished. You can also evaluate the exit status to check for errors.
On Windows, you can try compiling as a console application. But building on Windows is very tricky (specifically 0.24.x) and you'd need to tweak the MSVC project manually. Using cygwin (some kind of Linux emulator) may be an option - I even think there is a KLayout package for cygwin available. But I don't have a pointer. Maybe someone else can help out?