Ruby Weekly News 24th - 30th January 2005


Tim Sutherland

Ruby Weekly News 24th - 30th January 2005

A summary of the week's activity on the ruby-talk mailing list / the
comp.lang.ruby newsgroup. This summary is brought to you by Tim Sutherland

Articles and Announcements

* [Francais]

Mathieu Bouchard let readers know that a French-language mailing
list for Ruby discussion is available. Send an email to
(e-mail address removed) whose contents are only the word
"subscribe" (without the quotation marks!) The forum itself is
then (e-mail address removed). There are more than 60 people
subscribed so far, although there is not yet much discussion.
Mathieu also wants to form a Ruby Montréal Users Group and [asks]
interested users to email him.

* [RedHanded interviews chromatic (ONLamp site editor)]

whytheluckstiff informed us that "Curt Hibbs' [Rails article] at
[] has been a hit. Curious as to the perspective of
ONLamp staff, I [staged an interview] with its editor, chromatic."

* [Looking for some help]

Dave Thomas warned that "t's looking as if the success of the
Bookshelf venture is severely cramping the amount of time I can
dedicate to RDoc. That's to it's detriment." With this in mind,
Dave's looking for a new maintainer of this important
documentation tool.

* [Bangalore rubyists?]

If you're a Rubyist living in Bangalore then Martin DeMello would
like you to add your name to this thread. The IndiaGroup wiki page
has some names as well.

Quote of the Week

why the lucky stiff made the following disturbing [disclosure]:

"Early on, long ago, I had a dream that Matz came over in his little
painter's outfit and started to wallpaper my house with lettuce. But I think
my dream was influenced by the fact that when I first met Matz he was
holding salad tongs. I speak the unimpeachable truth."


Interesting threads this week included:

[Ruby for mobile phones?]

cyberco wrote:

"I've been doing a lot of work with Java J2ME and one thing that bars
real innovation is waiting for new API's that open up the phones
functionality. And if these API are finally released it takes years
before they are sufficiently spread to build applications with them.
NOKIA realized this and started to port PYTHON to Symbian (a popular OS
for mobile terminals). This allows programmers to easily access the
phones native functionality. Unfortunately this is still a project in
its pre-alpha state.

But maybe that's fortunate for the Ruby community. Wouldn't it be great
if Ruby was ported to mobile (aka limited) terminals as well?"

Kero reported that he had Ruby working on an iPaq and thought that phones
running Linux would be easier to port Ruby to. Palm Pilot support was also
discussed. As far as supporting phone-specific APIs, using OPL (BASIC-like
language for Symbian) could be the way to go - either by translating a
subset of Ruby to OPL or (your editor suggests), extracting API
information from OPL source code / documentation, or writing a bridge to
allow Ruby to call OPL code.

[Self and Ruby Comparisons]

If you've ever wondered about the differences between Ruby and the [Self]
programming language then this thread has some insight. Self is based
around a prototype-based object model where objects arise from cloning and
modification, whereas Ruby has a class-based object model in which objects
are usually created by calling the new method of a class.

Martin DeMello quipped "for one, self doesn't have a ruby keyword". On a
more serious note, Csaba Henk said "In Self really everything is message
passing. Unlike Ruby and unlike Smalltalk! Assignment is a special thing
even in Smalltalk. In Self, you are free to add/modify slots of objects
from outside, and assignment is in fact just a message which does this. (I
think so.)" Csaba also showed how Ruby can be used like a prototype-based
language thanks to the ability to add/modify methods on single objects.

Ideas for how to change an object's class from out underneath it were
discussed, with Florian Gross mentioning that [Evil Ruby] adds an
Object#class= method. (Evil Ruby is a library that provides support for
doing strange and sometimes dangerous things to the Ruby runtime.)

[nuby threading on threads]

Peña, Botp was using threads in Ruby for the first time and wrote the
following program. The idea is to have 10 threads doing work, and as each
thread dies a new one should be launched.

tlist = []
loop {
if tlist.size< LIMIT
tlist << { p "test" }
sleep 5

This didn't work properly - tlist became filled with dead threads. Peña
wanted to know the best way of removing dead threads from the list.

Eric Hodel said that tlist should be a ThreadGroup instead of an Array.
"ThreadGroups automatically drop Threads that are no longer alive. Use
tlist.list to get the list of threads currently in the ThreadGroup."

[RubyConf '05]

Brian McCallister wondered if any decisions had been made regarding
RubyConf 2005 - location, date, etc. Chad Fowler and his [RubyCentral]
"co-conspirators" have a date and location in mind and will be making an
announcement soon. Harry Ohlsen thought Sydney would make a good location
one year and Premshree Pillai thought likewise for somewhere in India, to
which there were a couple of "+1"s.

Michael Neumann had the same question about EuRuKo '05 (European Ruby
conference). Stephan Kämper suggested "I raise my voice to locate it in
wonderful Hamburg this year - or somewhere in Northern Europe (Denmark

The thread somehow turned into a discussion on black holes and
Minkowski-Einstein principles with Michael Neumann calculating that there
are at least 2.3501502e+14 Rubyists in the universe.

[A Rubyist's Dream]

Benjamin Stiglitz was driven to join the list by a dream about Matz coming
to his door with New Years greetings. This induced whytheluckystiff into
sharing his own dream, see Quote of the Week above.

Hal Fulton:

"In all seriousness, have you ever dreamed the exact location and cause
of a bug? I have on three occasions. Once I was on contract to IBM and
working very hard. I woke up thinking, "Man, I should put that on my

Matz confessed "Often. Furthermore, sometimes I jumped up from the bed and
turned on my PC to find that the bug was already fixed by myself sometime

[Array::uniq { block } ?]

Belorion wanted to use Array#uniq but with a block so the following could
be done:

a = [ [1,2], [3,4], [1,3] ]
b = a.uniq { |x,y| x[0] == y[0] } # -> [ [1,2], [3,4] ]

This is similar to the behaviour of Enumerable#sort when given a block.

Martin DeMello suggested uniq_by, to behave analogously to sort_by, so
that the example would be written as "b = a.uniq_by { |x| x[0] }".

As a more general concern, there were questions as to whether it was
necessary to add even more blocks to the Ruby standard library with
responses ranging from "Where does it all end?!" to thinking that it would
be a good idea to look for other methods which don't yet have blocks.

[Ten Things Every Java Programmer Should Know About Ruby]

Jim Weirich is going to be introducing Ruby to the XP (Extreme
Programming) user's group in Cincinnati next week and wanted to prepare a
list of "Ten Things Every Java Programmer Should Know About Ruby".

The responses have been [summarised] (well, listed anyway).

[[SUMMARY] Paper Rock Scissors (#16)]

James Edward Gray II summarised last week's [Ruby Quiz] - to write a bot
to play the rock-paper-scissors game. (Solutions were posted under the
[quiz announcement].)

Bill Atkins started something when he posted

class Cheater < Player
def initialize opponent
Object.const_get(opponent).send :define_method, :choose do
def choose

In response, Jannis Harder posted a player that will always beat Bill's
bot - not only does it redefine the opponent's choose method, but it
retores its own method each time in case the opponent tried to cheat too.

[[QUIZ] To Excel (#17)]

James Edward Gray II came up with a realistic task for [Ruby Quiz] this
week - extract useful information from a report and import it into Excel
(alternatively, produce a CSV file).

"Years ago, on a job developing custom reporting software, this was one of the
side tasks. Parsing a report may sound boring, but I urge you to at least
download this report and peek inside. It's a tragic example of database
output gone wrong."

[how do i turn an object into a binding?]

Bret Pettichord wanted to replace code like


with (foo) do

Florian Frank gave a solution using instance_eval. When foo.instance_eval
is called with a block, the block is evaluated but with self being foo.
For example,

foo.instance_eval do

Note that if we have code like " = 5" then it cannot be replaced
with "foo.instance_eval { bar = 5 }" since in the latter code, bar will be
interpreted as a local variable. Instead, foo.instance_eval { = 5 }
must be used.

[Ruby WikiDocs?]

Warren Brown had an idea for improving Ruby documentation: "Ruby WikiDocs
would basically be a Wiki containing Ruby documentation that anyone (after
registering?) could add to, change, or simply make comments about." This
would solve the current problem where people have to post patches to
documentation, and its not always clear where to send the patch.

James Britt said that this had been discussed in the past and was on his
growing ToDo list for [].

There were also ideas for making it easy to backport the Wiki information
into the source code. (Currently, classes and methods are documented via
comments in source code. The rdoc tool then extracts this data.)

[Current state of Ruby i18n?]

James Britt wanted to build a website that presented content in multiple
languages using Ruby. Eric Hodel suggested adding

$KCODE = 'u'
require 'jcode'

to his program, to "make string functions multibyte-capable". Then the web
pages simply need to set the content-type to UTF-8.

New Releases

* [Ruby 2.0!]

Chris Pine announced that "Ruby 2 (a.k.a Ruby Secunda Kathrine
Pine) was released January 22, 2005 at 1:51:42 pm (PST) after a
few hours of intense, last-minute debugging and deployment. We've
been working on this project for just over 9 months and are quite
pleased with the results! (Well, my wife really did most of the
work, though I *did* play a seminal role in the initial project
conception phase.)" Her older brother's name is "C Maximus Pine".
Chris later added "[w]e needed a theme, so we decided to name our
kids after programming languages. Yeah, my wife is pretty cool. :)"

* [DBus/Ruby 0.1.10]

leon breedt removed [DBus/Ruby]'s dependency on Ruby-GNOME2.
DBus/Ruby is a Ruby interface to [D-BUS] ("D-BUS is a message bus
system, a simple way for applications to talk to one another").

* [JRuby 0.8.0]

Thomas E Enebo released a new version of [Jruby], a project to
implement a Ruby interpreter in Java. Threading support and Java
interaction have been improved, many bugs were fixed, the rubicon
test suite can be run and the Ruby 1.8 grammar is fully supported.

* [aeditor-2.2 (future release)]

Simon Strandgaard added new keybindings and colour rendering to
[AEditor], a cross-platform console editor designed for use by

* [win32-changenotify 0.3.0]

The Win32Utils team was "proud" to annouce win32-changenotify
0.3.0, an interface for monitoring file and directory changes on
the Win32 platform. It now provides more detailed information on
what the change was.

* [io-extra 0.1.0]

Daniel Berger was "happy" to release io-extra 0.1.0, a collection
of extra methods for the IO class. Methods for closing or
iterating over all file descriptors were added, along with
directio support.

* [Rails 0.9.5: A world of fixes and tweaks]

David Heinemeier Hansson and co-conspirators have been busy
polishing the [Rails] web application framework. Highlights
include improvements in reloading source code when an application
is in development and improved support for collections.

* [WWW::Mechanize 0.1.0 available as Gem]

Michael Neumann packaged [WWW::Mechanize] for RubyGems. This is a
port of the Perl library by the same name, used to help write Ruby
programs that extract data from websites, click links etc.

* [ruby-dl2-0.0 for Ruby 1.8 and Ruby 1.9]

It was Takaaki Tateishi's "pleasure" to inform the group that the
first version of [Ruby/DL2] has been released for inspection. This
will soon replace Ruby/DL in the current unstable branch of Ruby
(1.9). DL provides an easy way to interact with C code from Ruby.
Takaaki is very interested in people's opinions at this stage.

* [Arachno Ruby IDE 0.4.0]

Lothar Scholz was "pleased" to announce a new release of [Arachno
Ruby IDE], a commercial, proprietary development environment for
Ruby. A 60 day trial version is available. Context-based
completion has been added, indentation improved and more.

* [Wee 0.5.0]

Michael Neumann updated his web application framework Wee to
include enhancements like support for live-updates and Og
scaffolding (object-relational mapper).

* [Logtails 0.4 : the time saving release]

Bauduin Raphael added save-session support to [Logtails], a
graphical tool (Qt) for watching log files.


Tim have you tried submitting a weekly update to any of the major bb
sites like OSNews? Think that's a good idea?


Tim Sutherland

Tim have you tried submitting a weekly update to any of the major bb
sites like OSNews? Think that's a good idea?

Good idea. I've emailed Linux Weekly News about this - they
have a section on Languages and Tools.

I'm not sure about OSNews since Ruby isn't an operating system.

Any other places?

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