Ruby Weekly News 13th - 26th June 2005


Tim Sutherland

Ruby Weekly News 13th - 26th June 2005

Ruby Weekly News is a summary of the week's activity on the ruby-talk
mailing list / the comp.lang.ruby newsgroup, brought to you by
Tim Sutherland.

This edition covers two weeks due to there being no edition for
13th - 19th June.

Articles and Announcements

* Ruby at OSCON

Phil Tomson posted the "top 10 OSCON tutorials based on attendee
signups so far."

Third was a tutorial on Rails and eighth was an introduction to Ruby.

He also announced that the PDX.rb user group were organising some
activities around OSCON, on Wednesday afternoon/evening.

Anyone attending on that day should contact him. If your Ruby talk was
rejected for OSCON, please contact Phil if you'd like to present your
talk to the group and friends.

In other conference news, Tanaka Akira was at LinuxTag 2005 and posted
a message asking who else would be there.

* FreeRIDE project - Call for help

Laurent Julliard posted a "call for help" for the FreeRIDE project.
| Since its inception in September 2001, FreeRIDE, the 100% Ruby IDE,
| has made a lot of progress (
| The current version has quite a large number features and,
| above all, the underlying plugin architecture (FreeBASE databus)
| has proven to be stable and perfectly suited for this type of
| application.

Currently, the only active project members are Laurent and Curt Hibbs,
both of whom have limited time for FreeRIDE at the moment.

Laurent posted some areas which need help - documentation, Windows
platform, MacOS X platform and testing. Adding support for
collaborative programming was later mentioned.

* Congrats to why_

James Britt read a post about the book The Best Software Writing I:
Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky.

why the lucky stiff's "A Quick (and Hopefully Painless) Ride Through
Ruby" was of course included.

_why himself responded:

| And acres of jubilant thanks to all of you fine helpers.
| It's been well over a year since I started this particular brand
| of poignancy and there's no end to the new flow of kind people
| who are still just becoming acquainted with the elf, his pet ham,
| the time-travelling uncle and his dead niece, the goat, the foxes
| tall and small, et al.
| I doubt the import or effectiveness of what I'm doing constantly,
| but I feel compelled to do it. In fact, there's something very
| compelling about working on something of such dubious relevance!!
| I'm also happy to say that I've just reorganized my waking hours
| and malloc'd a huge chunk of time each week to work on the book.
| Forthcoming: a sparkly magic beard for cats and a spaceship
| full of married couples and one panda.

Quote of the Week

Harry Ohlsen recalled ...

| Twenty odd years ago, I was sitting in front of the console of a Unix
| system, using nroff to write a paper for uni.
| Since the printer was in the same room, and I was the only person there
| (it was about 0300) I was just piping the output of the nroff command
| directly to it.
| After having successfully done this four or five times, I ran another
| nroff command to print the latest copy for proof reading ... then I
| waited ... and waited ... and waited.
| After about five minutes, this came out on the line printer:
| The world will end!
| As you can imagine, this freaked me out just a little. At that point, I
| decided that the last version I had was good enough :).
| It wasn't until about five years later, when I was reading the eqn
| manual ... eqn is the filter that formats mathematics for nroff ... and
| saw the following:
| "All rows of the matrix must contain the same number of columns,
| or the world will end"
| It took me about ten minutes to stop laughing.

Link of the Week


Described by its author Jon Aquino as "a (social) command line for the
web", YubNub takes URL web commands away from web browser software and
onto the web page. Why? Now commands are shared with everyone.

"YubNub is a command-line for the web. After setting it up on your
browser, you simply type "gim porsche 911" to do a Google Image Search for
pictures of Porsche 911 sports cars. Type "random 49" to return random
numbers between 1 and 49, courtesy of And best of all, you can
make a new command by giving YubNub an appropriate URL."

More complex commands are possible, for example
"xe -amount 100 -from USD -to EUR".

Best of all, YubNub was created as an entry into the Rails Day contest - a
well-sponsored competition to write the coolest web application in 24
hours, using the Ruby on Rails web framework. (Results out soon!)


Interesting threads included:

Ruby/Java Bridge running on Windows

See also [Ruby and Java].

Both these threads discussed how to glue together Ruby and Java code.

One option is RJB (RubyJava Bridge). It lets you communicate via runtime

Jason Foreman: "It works pretty well, but can be a bit `low level'
sometimes, due to the nature of its implementation. IE, sometimes you need
to know how to construct java method signatures and such (not a big

Anybody using Ruby 1.6.x?

Timothy Hunter: "With Ruby 1.8.3 on the horizon, should I continue to
support building RMagick for Ruby 1.6.7 and 1.6.8? Is anybody still using
these versions? Is any commonly-used Linux distro shipping with one of
these versions of Ruby?"

Ara.T.Howard: "yes. all the redhat enterprise linux distros. this is the
official government os for certain departments - we have thousands of
machines running 1.6.8, which is the official redhat rpm. it's the bane of
my existence. anyone know who to talk to at redhat to convice them to use
a more modern ruby?"

XHTML with WEBrick

R. Mark Volkmann asked "How can I configure WEBrick to treat requests for
XHTML files just like HTML files? I think what I need is for it to
correctly set the content type of the response so that the web browser
renders it correctly."

He answered his own question a few hours later:

mimeTypes = server.config[:MimeTypes]
mimeTypes['xhtml'] = 'text/html'

ASP.NET vs Ruby on Rails

Stephen Kellett asked if anyone had used both ASP.NET and Ruby on Rails.
"Care to compare and constrast?"

Dema was working with both platforms, and said that they "approach
different ways for building web apps, but both manage to do it in a very
high quality manner."

"In the end, it's much more about developer's taste and less about
technical issues."

Tobin Harris had also used both. He found that ASP.NET has a lot of power
and flexibility, but it isn't always easy to get things done.

"I think it lacks the high level of abstraction that Rails has." "I think
one of the main reasons I like Rails is that the framework makes a lot of
decisions for me."

Joseph Graham preferred ASP.NET because of its "component driven
architecture", and other reasons, including having more control over the
format of URLs.

finding differences between dates

Joseph Paish wanted to find the number of days between two dates in
"mm/dd/yyyy" format.

Paul Brannan said he should use the Date class.

irb(main):008:0> require 'date'
=> true
irb(main):009:0> Date.parse('11/05/1994') - Date.parse('3/7/1988')
=> Rational(2434, 1)

Best way to parse/update HTML file?

Bucco asked for advice on parsing an HTML file. He'd tried REXML (an XML
parser), however this didn't work because the file in question wasn't
properly formed XML.

daz said that the `ruby-htmltools' package was a good bet.


John Carter wrote:

| I'm just looking at 5000 lines of the gnarliest XSLT that generates
| out of XML some C to pack and unpack a serial protocol.
| Ooo, it's ugly, ugly, ugly.
| Anyone ever tried to do something in both Ruby REXML and the samething
| in XSLT?
| Was it prettier in Ruby?
| Was it easier? Fewer lines of Code? (by what ratio)
| How about speed? The XSLT is chewing on 14500 lines of XML in (almost)
| too long a time.

James Britt had begun using XSLT at one stage, but switched to the REXML
stream parser when he ran into issues.

| Logic in XSLT requires an appreciation of functional programming. XSLT
| is really quite good at complex matching and templating, especially if
| you need to grab and match stuff from all over the document, or when you
| are not quite sure where something will be.
| But for highly regular data sources then it can be overkill.

R. Mark Volkmann said that "the best thing about XSLT is XPath". XQuery
also supports XPath, but unlike XSLT doesn't have XML syntax.

Dir[] and Windows Network Addresses

Brian Takita asked how he could get the contents of a Windows network
directory using the Dir interface.

Daniel Berger noticed something interesting with Dir on Windows that
Charles Mills summarised as Dir['C:\\*.*'] returning an empty array, while
Dir['C:/*.*'] returned some filenames.

nobu replied that this wasn't a bug - backslash is a meta-character in
Dir.[] (an alias of Dir.glob).

For example, Dir.glob("*.{rb,h}") matches all files in the current
directory with extensions rb or h.

Backslashes are then used to represent e.g. literal `{' characters.

The solution therefore is to always use forward slashes:

ICFP 2005 Programming Contest

Ryan Leavengood thought it would be fun to compete in this year's
ICFP Programming Contest.

Other people expressed interest in forming a team.

ActiveRecord + Jabber + PostgreSQL

Tom Copeland: "It's entirely possible that I'm the only person in the
universe using the above combination. However, on the off chance that
someone else is too, here are some notes on getting Jabber 1.4.4 set up to
log to a PostgreSQL database schema that can be nicely read by

Chess Variants (II) (#36)

James Edward Gray II posted part two of the Chess Variants Ruby Quiz.

Part one was to create a program having a basic user interface for playing
chess and verifying that moves are valid.

Part two introduces 7 variants of chess, including "Fibonacci Chess", "Gun
Chess" and "Madhouse Chess".

The task is to modify your original program to support the variants. (Or
modify someone else's original!)

ruby-dev summary 26223-26324

Kazuo Saito summarised the ruby-dev Japanese mailing list.

It reported that Shugo Maeda had ported the patch that allows Ruby to use
libedit instead of GNU readline. It is now available on 1.8 as well as CVS
HEAD. The new version works on Mac OS X Tiger.

New Releases

* ruby-ftgl 0.1

Bill Kelly announced the first version of ruby-ftgl.

"Ilmari Heikkinen and I have created Ruby bindings for the FTGL
library. FTGL is a C++ library that uses the freetype2 library to
render true type fonts in OpenGL using various methods. (Outline,
Polygon, Texture, Bitmap, Pixmap, and Extruded.)"

* FixedPt-0.0.1

Phil Tomson introduced FixedPt, a class for representing fixed point

"This class is not very useful unless you are trying to model hardware
- if you're doing that it can be very useful."

* Text::Format 1.0.0

Austin Ziegler announced Text::Format 1.0.0. It "provides the ability
to nicely format fixed-width text with knowledge of the writeable
space (number of columns), margins, and indentation settings."

* webgen 0.3.5

Thomas Leitner added some features to webgen, a tool for generating
web pages from page description and template files.

* tree 0.3

Dave released version 0.3 of tree, a KDE application used to share
YAML data over a secure network.

* Tar2RubyScript 0.4.7

Erik Veenstra fixed a "serious bug" in Tar2RubyScript, relating to the
error message `doesn't contain an init.rb'.

Tar2RubyScript transforms a directory tree containing your Ruby
application into a single Ruby script that can be executed.

"It's Ruby's JAR".

* traits-0.4.0 - the coffee release

Ara.T.Howard shook out a new traits release. "i wasn't drinking enough
coffee while coding the 0.3.0 release. this is a remedy release."

"traits.rb aims to be a better set of attr_* methods and encourages
better living through meta-programming and uniform access priciples."

* AllInOneRuby 0.2.5

Erik Veenstra released the latest version of AllInOneRuby. It provides
a compressed executable for each of Windows, Linux and Mac OS X that
includes the Ruby interpreter and libraries.

"Why? Because it's sometimes not easy, or possible, or desirable, or
allowed to do a complete Ruby installation. That's where AllInOneRuby
comes in. I always have a USB-memory stick with AllInOneRuby in my

A bug to do with '--site' was fixed.

* ri2ref 0.0.1 - reference manual genarator based on ri

speakillof was pleased to release ri2ref. It generates reference
manuals using the ri documentation tool.

"I don't think RDoc's HTML frame is preferable. ri2ref generates HTML
pages without frame and has some features."

* Google Maps Hacks

Ben Giddings released an early version of `Google Maps Hacks', some
Ruby code for working with Google's Satellite Map service.

"So, here's what I have. I can create an XML file that contains a
"polyline" element. This draws a blue line on the map like the one you
can get when you ask for directions."

* Net::SSH 1.0.1, Net::SFTP 1.0.0

Jamis Buck set forth a maintenance release of Net::SSH. It "fixes a
bug that caused data to be sent twice in some circumstances". It also
adds a timeout option and (possibly) allows the Putty Agent to be used
under Windows.

"Net::SFTP 1.0.0 is the more-or-less stable, more-or-less final
release of Net::SFTP."

* A new japanese dictionary and learning tool in Ruby

Mathieu Blondel unleashed the first version of Nihongo Benkyo. It is a
dictionary and learning tool for Japanese.

Its interface supports English and French and "Searches words from
kanji, kana, romaji or translation."

* irb-history 1.0.0: Persistent, shared Readline history for IRB

Sam Stephenson announced irb-history. It provides a persistent, shared
readline history for irb.

* Ruby/Odeum 0.4.1-Bug Fix & Index Server

Zed A. Shaw made a "quick bugfix release" of the Ruby/Odeum full-text
search library.

* Nitro + Og 0.19.0: Og reloaded part2!

George Moschovitis released new versions of the Nitro web application
framework and Og object-relational mapper.

"Og reloaded part 2: Another superb release introducing a balanced mix
of innovative new features, common but useful stuff and bug fixes."

Important changes include "Og polymorphic relations" such as
`belongs_to' and `has_many'.

As usual, there were many more features.

* Syntax 1.0.0


Okay, it's a lexical analysis framework, targeted at producing syntax
highlighted source code output.

* De.linque.nt: An irresponsible metaweb posting tool

James Britt destroying the web:

| Here's the premise:, the social bookmarking site, lets
| you create posts that assign a set of tags to a URL. The post also
| provides a description field as well as an area for extended
| information.
| Usually, posts refer to some other Web resource, but the
| act of creating a post also creates a new Web resource:
| the URL for the new post.
| Since this post is a Web resource it can itself be the
| target of a post. In fact, one can create posts for
| resources that do not exist until the post is created,
| i.e., the post URL you bookmark is the one that will refer to the
| bookmark you are creating. And that is what De.linque.nt does.


* ruby-ldapserver-0.1

Brian Candler released ruby-ldapserver, "a lightweight, pure Ruby
skeleton for implementing LDAP server applications. It is intended
primarily for when you wish to build a gateway from LDAP queries into
some other protocol or database; it does not attempt to be a full
implementation of the standard LDAP data model itself (although you
could build one using this as a frontend)".

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