The folding rule overcomes the hook problem by having a fixed metal cap at the end of its wooden rule. This makes for worry free use, especially when measuring against something. It also has a nifty little sliding rule built into the end to measure depths and interior distances. On the downside, the thickness of the wooden blade means it must be laid on its edge to get accurate results and the way it folds creates a stair step shape that can make it awkward to use over distances.
The steel rule is a nice balance between the folders consistency and the tape measure’s small size, but its limitations are obvious. They are great for smaller work but once you get beyond the six inch mark, one of the above will have to take over.
Honorable mention goes to the story pole or story stick. This is usually a long piece of wood that one puts their own marks on for transferring measurements. This can be more reliable because it gets rid of all of those pesky numbers, and every distance is as marked. Story poles are especially useful when measuring larger projects with multiple components (like a kitchen or library) or when needing to transfer the same dimension over many parts. It helps eliminate measuring mistakes.