Ruby Weekly News 14th - 20th November 2005


Tim Sutherland

Ruby Weekly News 14th - 20th November 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.

[Contribute to the next newsletter.]

Articles and Announcements

* RedCloth mailing list

why the lucky stiff introduced a new mailing list for RedCloth, the
Ruby library for using the Textile humane text format.

* Use of Ruby in Laboratory Automation

Neil Benn is guest-editing 'The Journal of the Association for
Laboratory Automation', and is looking for examples of how Ruby is
used in this area. (Or, even better, someone to write an article.)

Devin Mullins said that Brent Roman gave a presentation on this topic
at RubyConf 2005 ("Embedding Ruby into a Robotic Marine Laboratory"),
and gave links to audio & video of the talk.

He also mentioned the [SciRuby] project, which is concerned with the
use of Ruby in science.

* Ruby/SDL for Mac OS X

Duane Johnson wrote an article on using Ruby/SDL on Mac OS X.

| Ruby/SDL is a binding for the Simple DirectMedia Layer, which is a
| library that makes 2D (and some 3D) graphics as well as sound and
| basic keyboard/mouse support available in a cross-platform way.
| Perfect for building games with!

* Fosdem : Developers Room, Presence

Thomas Riboulet said that, with the next Fosdem (Free and OpenSource
Developers' European Meeting) coming up in February 2006, we have the
opportunity to register a "presence", and arrange to have a room set
aside for Ruby.

"Any help, and remarks are welcomed."

* Help requested: new book

Mark Watson is planning on writing a new book on "Enterprise Ruby",
and asked for help defining the topics it will contain.

"I am going to release this as a free PDF file under a Creative
Commons license, but I would also like to find a publisher who would
make hard copy versions available to readers who want a physical

User Group News

* Learning Ruby Hackfest Hosted by new_haven.rb this Friday

Gregory Brown announced a mini Hackfest run by the New Haven Ruby
Brigade (Connecticut, U.S.) on November 18th. The aim is to pair up
experienced Ruby programmers with newbies and have them work through a
Ruby Quiz together.

* London Ruby Users Group meeting - 23 Nov

Rob announced the London Ruby Users Group meeting on the 23rd of
November. "Tiest will present a summary of what happened at RubyConf
2005. Followed by general Ruby chat and a move to the pub."

Image of the Week



Ruby, SOAP and WSDL

Henning Jansen wanted to write a Ruby server that provides a SOAP
interface, matching an already-defined WSDL specification.

He couldn't find any tool for generating Ruby code from a WSDL file, and
had also heard "Dyanamic languages like Ruby don't really need WSDL".

The the first point, Hiroshi Nakamura referred him to wsdl2ruby.rb, which
is part of the SOAP4R project, but not in the standard Ruby distribution
(which only includes the runtime components).

It is also possible to simply call driver ="http://some/foo.wsdl").create_driver to load
the WSDL at runtime, instead of generating code.

As to whether Ruby needs WSDL, Ryan Leavengood said that being a dynamic
language it can intercept and create methods "on the fly", so it isn't
necessary to know what the target methods are at `compile time'.

James Britt noted that WSDL is more than just method/type declarations; it
also provides information on what services are available, and how to
invoke them.

Equvialent of RoboCode and/or Terrarium for Ruby?

Kyle Heon wondered if Ruby had any equivalents to "RoboCode" or
"Terrarium" (or RoboWar), multi-player systems where developers create AI
to compete with each other.

Dave Burt said there wasn't, yet. "Tim Bates started work on Rubots, and I
have early-stages code and ideas based on RoboCode, but that's the extent
of it."

There was lots of discussion and interest in creating such systems.

ruby's weird operators (||=)

Mark asked what was with all the "weird" operators in Ruby like ||=

Guillaume Marcais said that they're not so weird; a <op>= b is just a
shorter way of writing a = a <op> b.

For example, x ||= 3 means x = x || 3, in other words, set x to 3 if it is
not defined, is nil, or is false.

why the lucky stiff noted the [FunnySymbolsInCode] page on RubyGarden.

Converting between Time and DateTime

This thread discussed the difference between Time, Date and DateTime, and
in particular how to convert between Time and DateTime.

One technique was given by David A. Black, although it was observed that
it works by generating and parsing intermediate string representations,
which is less efficient than a more `direct' approach of initialising one
via the fields of another.

# time = ... some Time
# date_time = ... some DateTime

d = DateTime.parse(time.iso8601)
t = Time.parse(date_time.strftime("%c"))

Kirk Haines said that this works because the parse method for both classes
is based on a single shared method, while an alternative approach was
given by Daniel Schierbeck: (although it doesn't handle timezones,
fractional seconds etc.)

class DateTime
def to_time
Time.mktime(year, mon, day, hour, min, sec)

class Time
def to_datetime
DateTime.civil(year, mon, day, hour, min, sec)

As to the reason for the separate classes, Kirk said that they are in fact
different in significant ways.

| Time and Date/DateTime use two entirely different mechanisms for keeping
| track of the passage of time. Time utilizes seconds since the start of
| 1970-standard Unix time tracking.
| Date/DateTime uses keeps tracks of days and fractions of days using
| Rational, and it's start of time is about the start of the year in 4712
| B.C.

Ron M, noting limitations with Time on systems where time_t is 32-bits,
thought it would be good if Time would automatically convert to some sort
of BigTime object when the year is out of range. (In the same way that
Fixnum converts to Bignum.)

"Today, that's not the case, and selecting fields representing a
200-year-lease throws an error when done through DBI."

Tanaka Akira said that this would be hard, since Time just uses the
underlying operating system's time support, from which information on
out-of-range years is not readily available.

A solution is to use an operating system that has 64-bit time_t.

In the Time out of range when selecting from database? thread, Kirk said
that it wouldn't be too difficult to make DBI::Timestamp behave nicely
when the time doesn't fit in a Time.

Euchre Hands (#55)

James Edward Gray II introduced Ruby Quiz number 55, "Euchre Hands".

The problem is to write a program that determines the "trump suit" for
hands in the card game Euchre.

Small practice programs

dark2: "For someone with some programming background and an interest in
learning Ruby, what are a few good "practice" programs to write?"

Gregory Brown:

James Britt: "Do you use a computer on a regular basis? Do you find
yourself doing the same little things over and over, by hand? Write Ruby
code to automate or simply them."

Crash Course on Speed for Ruby

Damphyr and his colleagues will be providing a three-hour introduction to
Ruby for a group of "high calibre, experienced professionals with very
good theoretical and practical background, so we only need to provide a
highspeed hands-on tour of Ruby and let nature take it's course".

Has anyone already prepared material suitable for a three-hour workshop?

Edwin van Leeuwen suggested the [WhyRuby] repository.

A dRuby application running as a Windows service?

Dominic Marks asked how he could turn a druby (distributed Ruby)
application into a Windows service.

Jamey Cribbs pointed out an example he'd written which uses the
win32-service Ruby library.

New Releases

isi.rb Version 0.8

Takeshi Nishimatsu announced for "Rubies and TeXnichians" a new version of
the ISI Export Format to BibTeX Format convertor.

Brian Schröder added a "shameless plug" for his rbibtex, a Ruby library
for manipulating BibTeX.


Ruby-GNOME2-0.14.1 was announced by Masao Mutoh, fixing some serious
memory leaks. All users of 0.14.0 are advised to upgrade.

Ruby-GNOME2 is a set of Ruby bindings for the GNOME 2 development

Ruby RTF 0.1.0

Peter Wood released the first version of Ruby RTF, a library for creating
RTF (Rich Text Format) files.

ruby-feedparser : RSS/Atom feed parser

Lucas Nussbaum said that ruby-feedparser had been extracted from the
Feed2Imap project and is now available as a standalone library. It is used
to parse Atom and RSS feeds, and is designed to be robust in the face of
invalid input.

No formal release has been made, but the SVN (Subversion repository)
version is usable.


rubikitch announced the latest version of his tool allowing developers to
programatically update `rcfiles' (e.g. ".emacs"), while providing
notifications and control to users.

Nitro + Og 0.25.0 Og scope, dynamic finders, evolution, helpers, bug fixes

George Moschovitis was pleased to announce new versions of Nitro and Og, a
web application framework and object-relational mapping library,

The focus of the release was on stability, but features were also added,
including "constrained / scoped queries", dynamic finders/generators, and
an experimental schema evolution system.

Ruby/GD2 1.0

Rob Leslie improved the API of Ruby/GD2, a wrapper around the library for
creating images.

Documentation was also added.

Ferret 0.2.1 (port of Apache Lucene to pure ruby)

David Balmain updated Ferret, his port of the Apache Lucene searching and
indexing library to Ruby.

The query interface now supports searching across multiple fields at the
same time, the library is threadsafe, and simple interfaces for updating
and deleting documents are provided. Primary keys were also added.

ruby-growl 1.0.1

Eric Hodel fixed ruby-growl to work with the version of Ruby distributed
with Mac OS X Tiger.

"Growl is a global notification system for Mac OS X. Applications can
register messages which Growl displays on the screen in a variety of ways
depending upon your preferences."

ruby-growl allows you to send growl messages from non-Mac OS systems (but
not receive them).

Nihongo Benkyo 0.3

Mathieu Blondel let out a new release of Nihongo Benkyo, a tool for use
with Japanese dictionary files.

Ruport 0.2.5: Enumerable DataSets, and things that go bump in the night

Gregory Brown bumped through the "I'm releasing too often" edition of
Ruport, a report generation framework.

Robert Canieso has joined the project, and will be working on the
Ruport::Format module.

The query interface has been improved in this release.

Reg - Ruby Extended Grammar 0.4.6

Caleb Clausen made a new release of Reg, a mini-language for "matching
patterns in ruby object graphs".

"Reg provides matchers for Strings (via Regexps), Symbols, Hashes, and
several alternatives for matching Objects, but the main feature is the
ability to match Arrays of arbitrary ruby data using vaguely Regexp-like

FasterCSV 0.1.3--CSV parsing without the wait!

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