Ruby Weekly News 12th - 18th June 2006


Tim Sutherland

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Ruby Weekly News 12th - 18th June 2006

Ruby Weekly News is a summary of the week's activity for the ruby-talk
mailing list (and its mirror equivalents the ruby-talk google group and
the Ruby forum) and the comp.lang.ruby newsgroup.

This week's newsletter is brought to you by Tim Sutherland.

[ Contribute to the next newsletter ]

Articles and Announcements

* Free eBook: The Little Book of Ruby (ruby-talk)

Huw Collingbourne announced The Little Book Of Ruby, a free PDF book
for newcomers to Ruby.

(Huw is also the co-creator of "Sapphire In Steel: Ruby Programming
with Visual Studio 2005", along with Dermot Hogan. This software adds
Ruby support into Microsoft's VS2005 IDE, including debugger support.
It is developed in association with Bitwise Magazine.)

* Article on screen scraping w HTree+REXML, RubyfulSoup, WWW::Mechanize

Peter Szinek was "investigating the possibilities of screen
scraping/web extraction/automated web navigation/wrapper generation in
Ruby", and helpfully wrote up an article comparing the different Ruby
libraries in this area.

"I am planning to write more entries on this topic, involving screen
scraping from Rails, Gecko to Ruby GTK widget embedding, wrapper
generation etc."

James Edward Gray II: "This was a very good article. Thank you for
sharing it with us."

* Ruby / RoR Training Camp, Pune (India) (ruby-talk)

Dibya Prakash announced a 5-day training camp for Ruby, and Rails, in
Pune (India) from 21st - 25th June 2006. The camp is run by Reevik
Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

* Ruby/OpenSSL samples at RubyKaigi2006 (ruby-talk)

Hiroshi Nakamura posted slides and sources from his Ruby/OpenSSL
presentation at the Japanese conference RubyKaigi 2006.

User Group News

* Ruby Beach group in Miami/Fort Lauderdale (comp.lang.ruby)

Martin Nemzow is looking for people to form a user group in Miami/Fort

* Columbia MD Ruby Codefest (ruby-talk)

The AgileMaryland user group are working together on a project called
FeedMaster (a user configurable Podcast feed reader) in order to
improve their agile, Ruby, and Rails skills.

Jeff Waltzer posted the meeting schedule for July, and invited all
those in the area who are interested in Ruby and Test Driven
Development (TDD) to drop in.

* ruby/rails users in Ireland - interest in forming a user group?

aidanf would like to start a user group in Ireland.
Could others who are interested please contact him.

* Alaska.rb - Polar bears, igloos and sled dogs... oh my! (ruby-talk)

Benjamin Gorlick pondered having an Alaska.rb user group, to meet in
Anchorage once a month. "It might be a long shot but I thought i'd put
the possibility of such a group out there if others are interested."

* Milwaukee RUG Meeting July 12th at 5:30 - 7:30 pm (ruby-talk)

The Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Ruby User's Group have their second meeting
on July 12th. "The Milwaukee RUG would like to thank SpiderLogic for
providing space for the meeting."


Short But Unique (#83) (ruby-talk)

Ruby Quiz is by Ryan Williams this week.

"The quiz would be to develop an abbrev-like module that shortens a set of
strings so that they are all within a specified length, and all unique."

Troubles Extending IRB (ruby-talk)

Matthew Harris is having problems integrating IRB with a GTK+ widget - the
IRB source code doesn't have enough documentation to get his head around
how it works.

"My ultimate goal is to use the Syntax library to create a custom syntax
highlighting widget using Gtk::TextView and write a full-fledged Ruby
programmer's editor and create countless plugins, the first one being the
IRB GTK console."

Is anyone able to help?

ruby-dev summary 28637 - 28714 (ruby-talk)

Kazuo Saito summarised the Japanese list ruby-dev.

Ruby 1.8.5 will be released in the middle of August.

Mauricio Fernandez comments on this in "ruby 1.8.5 release schedule",
noting that mid-August is O-bon day in many parts of Japan,
a "Japanese Buddhist holiday to honor the departed spirits of one's
ancestors" (Wikipedia).

Previous Ruby releases have often coincided with Christmas.

RubyGems for inclusion in JRuby (ruby-talk)

Charles O Nutter says the next release of JRuby (0.9.0) will work with
RubyGems. "It will also be the first release in which we ship a full
complement of Ruby's own .rb libraries. In short, it's the first really
usable release with everything you need included."

Absolute paths in $" (ruby-talk)

Trans wondered if Ruby 1.8.5 will convert paths in $" ($LOADED_FEATURES)
to be absolute instead of relative (like 1.9 does), to avoid some
situations where require can load a file multiple times.

Matz said it was too big a change for a stable release. "Compatibility
goes beyond anyone's expectation."

Unicode roadmap? (ruby-talk)

Unicode was a popular topic this week, with around 200 posts.

* Unicode roadmap?
* A few good articles on Unicode
* Unicode and sprintf method
* A plan for another unicode string hack
* Ruby/Unicode library

It all started with a user complaining that Ruby does not have
"proper Unicode support". Matz asked him to define what he meant by proper
support. "Note that 1.8 handles Unicode (UTF-8) if your string operations
are based on Regexp" (set $KCODE = 'u' at the top of your code, or set the
KCODE environment variable).

Ruby 1.9 will have improved behaviour for string encodings, including
Unicode ones.

Which missing features are causing the most pain? "I don't think it is a
method to get number of characters in a string. It can't be THAT crucial",
pondered Matz, adding that he is a non-English writer and doesn't have any
problems with Ruby's current support.

Peter Ertl said that validates_length_of in ActiveRecord (and therefore
Rails) doesn't work with UTF-8 strings since it uses String#length. A
couple of people mentioned case-insensitive regular expressions not

Julian `Julik' Tarkhanov later noted (in response to a different message)
"Trust me, when multibyte/Unicode handling is optional, 80% of libraries
do it wrong."

Dmitry Severin listed a combination of libraries that can be used to solve
most Unicode problems, e.g. jcode, which adds methods like String#jlength
that are encoding-aware; and unicode_hack for ActiveRecord which provides
a String#chars accessor that's codepoint-aware and puts your database
connections in UTF-8 mode.

The thread started talking about UTF-8 vs UTF-16 vs ..., and whether Ruby
should use one of them for its _internal_ string representation (for
efficiency of splicing etc. in Unicode), and how such a decision would
affect users of non-Unicode encodings.

Tim Bray (who among other things "co-edited the XML spec and helped work
out its character-encoding issues") said:
the practical experience is that the code required to unpack a UTF-8
stream into a sequence of integer codepoints (and reverse the process)
is easy and very efficient; to the point that for "slicing and poking",
UTF-8 vs UTF-16 vs UTF-32 is pretty well a wash.

He went on to give great advice on all manner of questions on how Ruby
should approach Unicode.

See also "Closing in on Unicode with Jcode" from a year ago on RedHanded.

Ruby and Windows Vista (ruby-talk)

Richard Livsey wondered if anyone had tried running Ruby on Windows Vista
Beta 2. "Any gotchas?"

James Schementi says it's working fine, with the exception of some
Win32API code, and Barry Burd ran Rails under it a few weeks ago (which
didn't work for him in Beta 1).

Whither Ruby DBI? (comp.lang.ruby)

Someone noticed that Ruby/DBI (database abstraction layer) is only version
0.10, and wondered why ActiveRecord doesn't use it. It is still actively

Dave Burt said that it is still active.

Mac OS X automation with Ruby (comp.lang.ruby)

What options are there for automating Mac OS X applications with Ruby,
asked Tony.

Une bévue pointed out RubyAEOSA for using AppleEvent and OSA Scripting
Component. (ruby-talk)

Last week's thread on this topic (too many low-quality posts from had some outcomes: Andreas S. disabled posts for
unregistered users, added a paragraph with some posting rules, and links
to the Ruby FAQ and documentation.

"I hope this will to improve the quality of postings from
If you have any better suggestions, please tell me."

Later in the thread, a ruby-forum user posted "Why does Ruby insist on
using a Webboard instead of a regular newsgroup forum?" ... "Lets just
switch it to a public newsgroup forum and let Ruby flourish. There is no
need to keep it bottled up like this."

This was a good illustration of the misunderstanding many ruby-forum users
have about it - they don't realise it's a mirror of the ruby-talk mailing
list. (And the comp.lang.ruby newsgroup, when the newsgroup gateway is up,
which it isn't at the moment.)

New Releases

Ruby Reports 0.4.9 (ruby-talk)

Gregory Brown released the "Sneakin' Into RoR" edition of Ruby Reports. It
now has basic Rails integration, with acts_as_reportable in your
ActiveRecord models.

Get your mojo back with Mojo Helpdesk (comp.lang.ruby)

Supercobra Thatbytes introduced Mojo Helpdesk, "a simple ticket tracking
system for small businesses". It is written with Rails.

MongrelDay Documentation -- Memoirs Of A Web Server (ruby-talk)

Zed Shaw wished everyone a happy RailsDay, and announced he'd spent it
writing "tons" of "documentation for Mongrel" (Mongrel is a web server for
Ruby applications).

Also, "MONGREL IS #2!": RubyGems was the only rubyforge project to have
more downloads than Mongrel this week.
BTW, if anyone wonders why I support win32, just ask yourself why the
Ruby One-Click installer is consistently in the top three projects on
RubyForge. Yeah, windows doesn't matter at all.

NokiaFS (ruby-talk)

Werner Bohl uploaded the first, alpha, version of NokiaFS.
"This application is based on fusefs ruby lib and gammu.
Mounts as user space fs your Nokia phone."

ZenObfuscate - for when you really really have to ship a (ruby-talk)

Ryan Davis announced ZenObfuscate, a commercial tool for effective
obfuscation of Ruby source code.

"ZenObfuscate is a translator for a fairly large subset of ruby that
converts your pure ruby code into a dynamically loadable binary".

rcov 0.6.0: "differential code coverage", full (faster) cross-references,
vim integration (ruby-talk)

The Ruby code-coverage tool `rcov' now has a "differential code coverage"
mode that shows you when you've added new code that isn't covered by
tests. Cross-referenced reports have also been improved - you can click on
a method in the HTML report to see who called it.

Rcov is by Mauricio Fernandez, and he thanks Alex Wayne, Coda Hale and Tim
Shadel for their bug reports.

Announcing MarkaBoo - Creative Commons licensed Rails app for Social
Bookmarking (comp.lang.ruby)

Christian Romney: "After much lobbying, I managed to convince the company
I work for to release the source of one of our for-profit web propertied
under a Creative Commons license."

MarkaBoo is a social bookmarking tool, featuring a WYSIWYG editor, the
ability to create bookmarks by email and from mobile phones, import from
other sites like, and more.

Geocoding Goodness (ruby-talk)

Eric Hodel wrote Ruby bindings for the Yahoo, Google and
geocoding services. "And as a bonus, you get a Yahoo! search gem to search
either the web or for locations".

There was an enthusiastic response, and it looks like several people will
be creating Ruby programs using geocoding soon.


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