What is the point of require_gem in Ruby 1.8.2?

Discussion in 'Ruby' started by Wes Gamble, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. Wes Gamble

    Wes Gamble Guest

    I just went through this mess over the last few hours...


    If I do:

    require_gem 'gemname', '>= version'

    I discovered that require_gem doesn't actually do the "require" call on
    the 1st argument.

    So what's the point of require_gem then?

    It did manage to confuse the heck out of me, so I guess it does
    something :)...

    Wes Gamble, Mar 23, 2006
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  2. Wes Gamble

    Jim Weirich Guest

    That's because the first argument is the name of the Gem to be
    activated, not the name of a file to be required.

    However, many gems have the same name as their main require file, so
    there is a lot of confusion. Also some gems have an 'autorequire' flag
    set that /will/ do a require on the main file.

    And to futher the confussion, the command name 'require_gem' was poorly
    selected. Future versions of RubyGems will provide a better named
    command for this operation.
    If you have multiple versions of a gem installed, the require_gem
    command specifies what version of the gem you are willing to use. If
    you don't care what version will be used, and just want the latest
    version of whatever is installed, then there is no reason to even bother
    with the require_gem command.
    Jim Weirich, Mar 23, 2006
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  3. Wes Gamble

    Wes Gamble Guest


    So I think the question still stands. Is require_gem only do the
    version checking?

    What does it mean to "activate" a Gem?

    Wes Gamble, Mar 23, 2006
  4. Wes Gamble

    Jim Weirich Guest

    The require_gem does two basic functions:

    (1) Activates a gem with an appropriate version number (see below for
    more on "activate")

    (2) Auto requires the autorequire file if the gem has specified one.

    After much experience with gems, the RubyGems team has come to the
    conclusion that the autorequire step causes more trouble than its worth.
    The require_gem command will be probably be deprecated in the future and
    be replaced with a command that only does the activation step.
    ('activate_gem' will probably be then name of this new command, although
    no promises there).

    Require_gem is only needed if you wish to assert which versions of a gem
    you are willing to accept. If you don't care, it is better to not use
    Gems are not stored in a place where Ruby can normally find them. To
    activate a gem means to manipulate Ruby's search path so that the gem
    may be found by a require statement. Only one version of any given gem
    can be activated at a time.

    Today, Gems monitors all require requests given to Ruby. If a require
    fails to load a file, then Gems will check its repository to see if
    there is a file that satisfies the require statement. If so, RubyGems
    will activate the latest version of the gem that provides that file and
    will retry the require.

    Since RubyGems now automatically handles normal require statements
    semi-intelligently, the autorequire feature of the original require_gem
    is more of a hinderence than a help[1].

    -- Jim Weirich

    [1] For example, if a gem has an autorequire file, then that autorequire
    file will be loaded by the activation step. If a user does a normal
    "require 'xyz'" that triggers an activation, when the require is retried
    the file will be already 'autorequired'. There's is no harm in that
    except that the result of the user's require statement returns false
    (since the file will autoloaded durning activate), and returning false
    confuses a lot of people. I hope this footnote didn't ramble too much.
    Jim Weirich, Mar 23, 2006
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