The results of the survey of Ruby GUI programming carried out at the end
of last year are now available at
== SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
The survey received a total of 399 responses; 80% of these completed
the whole survey. Respondents were evenly split into those who’d never
done GUI programming in Ruby, those who had in the past but weren’t
doing so now, and those who were currently doing so.
Most of those doing GUI development were working alone, either on
“fun” projects or open-source software. One in three was using GUI
libraries to develop in-house company tools; just under 10% were working
on commercial GUI software.
The Ruby GUI “scene” remains fragmented: the survey found at least a
dozen separate GUI libraries in current use. The most used toolkits were
Shoes (21%), Ruby-GNOME2 (19%) and wxRuby (16%).
Of users naming a single preferred toolkit, Ruby-GNOME2 and Shoes were
chosen by 26%, wxRuby by 17% and RubyCocoa 11%; no other toolkit
received more than 10%.
There are striking differences between Japanese and Euro-American Ruby
users. Among Japanese Ruby developers, Ruby-GNOME2 is the preferred
toolkit of a majority (56%), whereas among Euro-Americans, it lies third
behind Shoes and wxRuby in popularity.
Preference for one or other of the two leading comprehensive toolkits
(GNOME2 and Wx) is not strongly predicted by the general importance
attached to features of GUI libraries. This suggests their capabilities
and range of potential applications largely overlap.
The emergence of new Ruby implementations and their associated GUI
options has already had an effect on usage. MacRuby/Cocoa and, to a
lesser degree, JRuby/Swing are well used and well regarded.
MacRuby/Cocoa was the highest rated among all options for how well it
met users’ GUI development requirements.
Ruby-Tk received the worst rating for how well it meets users’ GUI
requirements, with a modal rating of ‘poor’. It was the only library for
which fewer respondents said they planned to use it in the future than
are currently using it. Its continued inclusion in the standard library
Among those with an opinion, there’s a 60/40 split against including
any GUI library in the Ruby standard distribution.
The high degree of fragmentation has not served potential GUI
developers well. Almost all see Ruby as a viable GUI programming
language, but the immaturity of the toolkits is the commonest reason for
not using Ruby for GUI work. The means of redistributing ruby GUI apps
to end users is another obstacle.
The release of Ruby 1.9 addresses some perceived impediments to GUI
development in Ruby, such as improved speed, and, more importantly, the
availability of system-level threading. There is scope for the reference
Ruby implementation to further improve Ruby as a platform for desktop
applications, for example, by offering bytecode loading.
Many thanks to those who took the time to complete the survey, and also
to the GUI developers who helped in the development of the survey.