Ruby Weekly News 12th - 18th June 2006

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Ruby Weekly News 12th - 18th June 2006

Ruby Weekly News is a summary of the week’s activity for the
mailing list (and its mirror equivalents the ruby-talk google group
the Ruby forum) and the comp.lang.ruby newsgroup.

This week’s newsletter is brought to you by Tim S…

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Articles and Announcements

 * Free eBook: The Little Book of Ruby (ruby-talk)

   Huw C. announced The Little Book Of Ruby, a free PDF 

for newcomers to Ruby.

   (Huw is also the co-creator of "Sapphire In Steel: Ruby 

with Visual Studio 2005", along with Dermot H… This software
Ruby support into Microsoft’s VS2005 IDE, including debugger
It is developed in association with Bitwise Magazine.)

 * Article on screen scraping w HTree+REXML, RubyfulSoup, 


   Peter S. was "investigating the possibilities of screen
   scraping/web extraction/automated web navigation/wrapper 

generation in
Ruby", and helpfully wrote up an article comparing the different
libraries in this area.

   "I am planning to write more entries on this topic, involving 

scraping from Rails, Gecko to Ruby GTK widget embedding, wrapper
generation etc."

   James Edward G. II: "This was a very good article. Thank you 

sharing it with us."

 * Ruby / RoR Training Camp, Pune (India) (ruby-talk)

   Dibya P. announced a 5-day training camp for Ruby, and 

Rails, in
Pune (India) from 21st - 25th June 2006. The camp is run by
Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

 * Ruby/OpenSSL samples at RubyKaigi2006 (ruby-talk)

   Hiroshi N. posted slides and sources from his Ruby/OpenSSL
   presentation at the Japanese conference RubyKaigi 2006.

User Group News

 * Ruby Beach group in Miami/Fort Lauderdale (comp.lang.ruby)

   Martin Nemzow is looking for people to form a user group in 


 * Columbia MD Ruby Codefest (ruby-talk)

   The AgileMaryland user group are working together on a project 

FeedMaster (a user configurable Podcast feed reader) in order to
improve their agile, Ruby, and Rails skills.

   Jeff Waltzer posted the meeting schedule for July, and invited 

those in the area who are interested in Ruby and Test Driven
Development (TDD) to drop in.

 * ruby/rails users in Ireland - interest in forming a user group?

   aidanf would like to start a user group in Ireland.
   Could others who are interested please contact him.

 * Alaska.rb - Polar bears, igloos and sled dogs... oh my! 


   Benjamin G. pondered having an Alaska.rb user group, to meet 

Anchorage once a month. “It might be a long shot but I thought
i’d put
the possibility of such a group out there if others are

 * Milwaukee RUG Meeting July 12th at 5:30 - 7:30 pm (ruby-talk)

   The Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Ruby U.'s Group have their second 

on July 12th. “The Milwaukee RUG would like to thank SpiderLogic
providing space for the meeting.”


Short But Unique (#83) (ruby-talk)

Ruby Q. is by Ryan W. this week.

“The quiz would be to develop an abbrev-like module that shortens a
set of
strings so that they are all within a specified length, and all

Troubles Extending IRB (ruby-talk)

Matthew H. is having problems integrating IRB with a GTK+ widget

  • the
    IRB source code doesn’t have enough documentation to get his head
    how it works.

    “My ultimate goal is to use the Syntax library to create a custom
    highlighting widget using Gtk::TextView and write a full-fledged Ruby
    programmer’s editor and create countless plugins, the first one being
    IRB GTK console.”

    Is anyone able to help?

    ruby-dev summary 28637 - 28714 (ruby-talk)

    Kazuo Saito summarised the Japanese list ruby-dev.

    Ruby 1.8.5 will be released in the middle of August.

    Mauricio F. comments on this in “ruby 1.8.5 release schedule”,
    noting that mid-August is O-bon day in many parts of Japan,
    a “Japanese Buddhist holiday to honor the departed spirits of one’s
    ancestors” (Wikipedia).

    Previous Ruby releases have often coincided with Christmas.

    RubyGems for inclusion in JRuby (ruby-talk)

    Charles O Nutter says the next release of JRuby (0.9.0) will work
    RubyGems. “It will also be the first release in which we ship a full
    complement of Ruby’s own .rb libraries. In short, it’s the first
    usable release with everything you need included.”

    Absolute paths in $" (ruby-talk)

    Trans wondered if Ruby 1.8.5 will convert paths in $"
    to be absolute instead of relative (like 1.9 does), to avoid some
    situations where require can load a file multiple times.

    Matz said it was too big a change for a stable release.
    goes beyond anyone’s expectation.”

    Unicode roadmap? (ruby-talk)

    Unicode was a popular topic this week, with around 200 posts.

    • Unicode roadmap?
    • A few good articles on Unicode
    • Unicode and sprintf method
    • A plan for another unicode string hack
    • Ruby/Unicode library

    It all started with a user complaining that Ruby does not have
    “proper Unicode support”. Matz asked him to define what he meant by
    support. “Note that 1.8 handles Unicode (UTF-8) if your string
    are based on Regexp” (set $KCODE = ‘u’ at the top of your code, or
    set the
    KCODE environment variable).

    Ruby 1.9 will have improved behaviour for string encodings, including
    Unicode ones.

    Which missing features are causing the most pain? “I don’t think it
    is a
    method to get number of characters in a string. It can’t be THAT
    pondered Matz, adding that he is a non-English writer and doesn’t
    have any
    problems with Ruby’s current support.

    Peter E. said that validates_length_of in ActiveRecord (and
    Rails) doesn’t work with UTF-8 strings since it uses String#length. A
    couple of people mentioned case-insensitive regular expressions not

    Julian `Julik’ Tarkhanov later noted (in response to a different
    “Trust me, when multibyte/Unicode handling is optional, 80% of
    do it wrong.”

    Dmitry S. listed a combination of libraries that can be used to
    most Unicode problems, e.g. jcode, which adds methods like
    that are encoding-aware; and unicode_hack for ActiveRecord which
    a String#chars accessor that’s codepoint-aware and puts your database
    connections in UTF-8 mode.

    The thread started talking about UTF-8 vs UTF-16 vs …, and whether
    should use one of them for its internal string representation (for
    efficiency of splicing etc. in Unicode), and how such a decision
    affect users of non-Unicode encodings.

    Tim B. (who among other things “co-edited the XML spec and helped
    out its character-encoding issues”) said:

    the practical experience is that the code required to unpack a
    stream into a sequence of integer codepoints (and reverse the
    is easy and very efficient; to the point that for “slicing and
    UTF-8 vs UTF-16 vs UTF-32 is pretty well a wash.

    He went on to give great advice on all manner of questions on how
    should approach Unicode.

    See also “Closing in on Unicode with Jcode” from a year ago on

    Ruby and Windows Vista (ruby-talk)

    Richard L. wondered if anyone had tried running Ruby on Windows
    Beta 2. “Any gotchas?”

    James Schementi says it’s working fine, with the exception of some
    Win32API code, and Barry B. ran Rails under it a few weeks ago
    didn’t work for him in Beta 1).

    Whither Ruby DBI? (comp.lang.ruby)

    Someone noticed that Ruby/DBI (database abstraction layer) is only
    0.10, and wondered why ActiveRecord doesn’t use it. It is still

    Dave B. said that it is still active.

    Mac OS X automation with Ruby (comp.lang.ruby)

    What options are there for automating Mac OS X applications with
    asked Tony.

    Une bévue pointed out RubyAEOSA for using AppleEvent and OSA Scripting
    Component. (ruby-talk)

    Last week’s thread on this topic (too many low-quality posts from had some outcomes: Andreas S. disabled posts for
    unregistered users, added a paragraph with some posting rules, and
    to the Ruby FAQ and documentation.

    “I hope this will to improve the quality of postings from
    If you have any better suggestions, please tell me.”

    Later in the thread, a ruby-forum user posted “Why does Ruby insist
    using a Webboard instead of a regular newsgroup forum?” … “Lets
    switch it to a public newsgroup forum and let Ruby flourish. There is
    need to keep it bottled up like this.”

    This was a good illustration of the misunderstanding many ruby-forum
    have about it - they don’t realise it’s a mirror of the ruby-talk
    list. (And the comp.lang.ruby newsgroup, when the newsgroup gateway
    is up,
    which it isn’t at the moment.)

New Releases

Ruby Reports 0.4.9 (ruby-talk)

Gregory B. released the “Sneakin’ Into RoR” edition of Ruby
Reports. It
now has basic Rails integration, with acts_as_reportable in your
ActiveRecord models.

Get your mojo back with Mojo Helpdesk (comp.lang.ruby)

Supercobra Thatbytes introduced Mojo Helpdesk, “a simple ticket
system for small businesses”. It is written with Rails.

MongrelDay Documentation – Memoirs Of A Web Server (ruby-talk)

Zed S. wished everyone a happy RailsDay, and announced he’d spent
writing “tons” of “documentation for Mongrel” (Mongrel is a web
server for
Ruby applications).

Also, “MONGREL IS #2!”: RubyGems was the only rubyforge project to
more downloads than Mongrel this week.

BTW, if anyone wonders why I support win32, just ask yourself why
Ruby O.-Click installer is consistently in the top three projects
RubyForge. Yeah, windows doesn’t matter at all.

NokiaFS (ruby-talk)

Werner Bohl uploaded the first, alpha, version of NokiaFS.
“This application is based on fusefs ruby lib and gammu.
Mounts as user space fs your Nokia phone.”

ZenObfuscate - for when you really really have to ship a (ruby-talk)

Ryan D. announced ZenObfuscate, a commercial tool for effective
obfuscation of Ruby source code.

“ZenObfuscate is a translator for a fairly large subset of ruby that
converts your pure ruby code into a dynamically loadable binary”.

rcov 0.6.0: “differential code coverage”, full (faster)
vim integration (ruby-talk)

The Ruby code-coverage tool `rcov’ now has a “differential code
mode that shows you when you’ve added new code that isn’t covered by
tests. Cross-referenced reports have also been improved - you can
click on
a method in the HTML report to see who called it.

Rcov is by Mauricio F., and he thanks Alex W., Coda Hale
and Tim
Shadel for their bug reports.

Announcing MarkaBoo - Creative Commons licensed Rails app for Social
Bookmarking (comp.lang.ruby)

Christian Romney: “After much lobbying, I managed to convince the
I work for to release the source of one of our for-profit web
under a Creative Commons license.”

MarkaBoo is a social bookmarking tool, featuring a WYSIWYG editor,
ability to create bookmarks by email and from mobile phones, import
other sites like, and more.

Geocoding Goodness (ruby-talk)

Eric H. wrote Ruby bindings for the Yahoo, Google and
geocoding services. “And as a bonus, you get a Yahoo! search gem to
either the web or for locations”.

There was an enthusiastic response, and it looks like several people
be creating Ruby programs using geocoding soon.