http://www.rubyweeklynews.org/20060611.html

Use the link above for a nicer version of this newsletter that's formatted for
the web, including links to threads and other sites. You can also subscribe
to a newsletter-only mailing list, or to RSS/Atom feeds.

Ruby Weekly News 5th - 11th June 2006
=====================================

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

   This week's newsletter is brought to you by Tim Sutherland.

   [ Contribute to the next newsletter ]

Articles and Announcements
==========================

     * Ruby Whitepapers (ruby-talk) 
     ------------------------------

       Eric Armstrong wrote a series of articles Ruby Makes My Head Explode
       in a one-week spree:

          * Ruby Rocks!
          * Rake Rocks!
          * Getting Started in Ruby
          * Installing Ruby (Linux info added by John Gabriele)
          * Installing Ruby Gems
          * Adding Ruby Extensions
          * Which GUI Language to Use? (FxRuby vs. WxRuby)

     * Feel like contributing? (comp.lang.ruby) 
     ------------------------------------------

       Gregarican asks for help completing a Ruby telephony library he'd been
       working on before running out of time.

       "It provides a working telephony library that communicates with PBX
       systems for call detail reporting, call control, etc. It's maybe
       50-75% complete and hasn't been updated by me since November 2005.
       This *isn't* a VoIP project. It's CTI."

User Group News
===============

     * Phoenix Ruby Users Group meeting this Monday, June 12 (ruby-talk) 
     -------------------------------------------------------------------

       The Phoenix Ruby Users Group had their June meeting on the 12th.

Link of the Week
================

     * Ruby Inside: Daily Ruby tips, news, code and frivolity 
     --------------------------------------------------------

       Ruby Inside is a blog by Peter Cooper that's been running for a couple
       of weeks. So far it's had multiple interesting posts every day,
       ranging from original overviews of little-known Ruby libraries, to
       announcements of new tools, libraries and articles.

       Worth a look.

Threads
=======

  Another Look at SELECTOR NAMESPACES (ruby-talk)
  -----------------------------------------------

   Trans posted some simple code adding partial support for selector
   namespaces in Ruby. It works by making copies of top-level constants, and
   is only for demonstration purposes.

  XML Parsing Speed - ruby libxml & REXML (comp.lang.ruby)
  --------------------------------------------------------

   subimage's code was taking too long to parse XML files (some of which were
   400MB). He tried using libxml instead of REXML, and this helped, but it
   was still too slow.

   rcoder explained that he should use stream (event) parsing for large XML
   documents, instead of parsing entire documents into memory at once (and to
   make things worse, then using XPath to select nodes).

   After switching to REXML's stream-parsing mode, subimage remarked "Ok so I
   finally dug into the stream parser and this is lightning fast!"

   Finally, Mathieu Blondel tested the expat bindings for Ruby a few months
   ago and found its stream-parser to be up to 20 times faster than REXML's.

  Can Ruby play with COM ? (ruby-talk)
  ------------------------------------

   Can Ruby talk to Windows software that has a COM interface? Absolutely,
   with the standard library `win32ole'.

  Runtime debugging tools needed?!! (comp.lang.ruby)
  --------------------------------------------------

   The web-testing tool Watir brought Jonathan Ni to Ruby, and he now has
   some ideas for speeding up test development. His company has a large and
   complex set of Watir tests for their web application, and need to
   constantly modify the tests as the application they're developing changes.

   They're finding the `run test suite', `fix error in test', `re-run' cycle
   takes too long (partly due to it taking a long time to set up the test
   data), so Jonathan would like to run the tests and have them pause
   whenever an error occurs, allow him to edit the test code, and continue
   without restarting.

   Andrew McDonagh suggested he instead consider whether all his tests really
   need to be "end-to-end" (i.e. act exactly like a normal user, going
   through a web browser). "A more reliable, flexible, less maintenance
   approach is to partition the tests so that very few actually go
   end-to-end." He gave some examples of what he means by tests that aren't
   end-to-end.

   Jonathan could also look into making the tests more independent, so he can
   fix and re-run each small test without having to wait for the whole lot to
   complete.

   The original debug/fix/continue idea is a good one though. It would be
   worth looking into the various Ruby debuggers out there. Perhaps the
   ruby-talk readers have some ideas? (It's worth raising awareness that a
   lot of programmers are coming to Ruby through Watir.)

  Ruby Weekly News 29th May - 4th June 2006 (ruby-talk)
  -----------------------------------------------------

   In the thread announcing last week's Ruby Weekly News, James Edward Gray
   II said he was "90% sure" he'd found a new host for the ruby-talk mailing
   list comp.lang.ruby newsgroup gateway. "Give me a couple of weeks to iron
   out all the details...", then hopefully the list and newsgroup will be
   mirrored again.

  Ruby for Highschoolers? (ruby-talk)
  -----------------------------------

   This thread discussed the relative merits of Scheme and Ruby as languages
   for a high-school introductory programming course.

   Scheme is a smaller, simpler language, and there is a lot of teaching
   material already prepared for it. While Ruby has many features (e.g.
   plenty of syntactic sugar) that make it nice to develop in once you know
   the language, these can be confusing to beginners.

   There were also arguments that Ruby is an excellent language for
   beginners. Curt Hibbs points out "Learn To Program" by Chris Pine,
   a book (and online tutorial) that's geared towards those who have never
   programmed before. It teaches programming using Ruby.

   Ruby has an advantage over Scheme in that it has a rich collection of
   libraries, so even new programmers can write useful, real (as well as fun)
   programs - great for motivation.

  iterative question (ruby-talk)
  ------------------------------

   Joe wants to get an array of all Dates in a range.

   Daniel Schierbeck said (start_date..end_date).to_a would do the trick, and
   Chris showed an alternative approach, using Date#upto to iterate over the
   date range.

  Ruby Quiz Wins Contest (ruby-talk)
  ----------------------------------

   Last week's Ruby Quiz, "Hash to OpenStruct (#81)" by Hans Fugal had
   enough entries to qualify for a signed copy of James Edward Gray II's
   "Best of Ruby Quiz" book.

   Cool.

  Anyone aware of a Ruby-module for ICQ? (ruby-talk)
  --------------------------------------------------

   Groleo Marius wanted to know if Ruby has any libraries for talking to ICQ.

   Net::IM by Paul Vaillant will support the protocol in the future, and
   Francis Cianfrocca has implemented Oscar/AOL (the AOL instant messaging
   protocol, including ICQ) in Ruby, and has it running on several large
   sites, but has not released the code.

   In the end, Groleo decided to port the Perl library Net::Oscar to Ruby.

  ruby-forum.com (ruby-talk)
  --------------------------

   ruby-forum.com is a collection of web forums that are gateways to
   Ruby-related mailing lists. (Posts to the lists show up on the forums, and
   posts from the forums show up on the lists.)

   Unfortunately, many users of the Ruby web forum apparently don't realise
   their messages are sent to the ruby-talk list, so they do things (like not
   quoting messages) which make perfect sense on a web forum, but cause
   inconvenience for everyone else. In addition, posters from the forum are
   often newbies who ask questions that have been answered many times before.

   Matthew Smillie suggests the forum have links to ruby-doc.org and others,
   to encourage ruby-forum users to check the documentation before posting
   questions.

   > [...] I'm also of the view that the quality and tone of the questions
   > from ruby-forum often leave something to be desired.
   >
   > I have a hunch this is because google groups and mailing lists tend to
   > be used by people who already know what they're looking for, and already
   > know where the docs live. I'd bet that a number of the people posting
   > from the forum are probably not aware of all the resources available to
   > them.

   The thread turned into a discussion of how to read ruby-talk, which now
   receives over 4000 messages per month. (Eric Hodel linked to some code of
   his for using statistical techniques for selecting "interesting" posts.)

   Dave Burt: "Does anyone read all 4000 posts per month?" Austin Ziegler and
   Hal Fulton say they try. Your Ruby Weekly News editor reads almost every
   subject line :-)

  How can I pin a Ruby object in memory? (ruby-talk)
  --------------------------------------------------

   A C extension question: in .NET your C code can't simply store a pointer
   to a managed object, since the .NET garbage collector can move objects
   around in memory (the main implementation has a compacting garbage
   collector), so you sometimes have to wrap objects in a GCHandle, which is
   guaranteed not to move.

   John Lam asked if the same is required in Ruby C extensions. Minkoo Seo
   said no, since Ruby's collector is not a compacting one.

   (C extensions are allowed to depend on this fact. At least, objects
   referenced by VALUEs on the stack or in registers, or those referenced by
   rb_gc_mark in C extensions, are guaranteed not to move. It would be
   possible in the future to change Ruby to use a partially-collecting
   garbage collector that could move objects not referenced by C extensions.)

   Mauricio Fernandez also posted some information on navigating the source
   code of the Ruby interpreter.

  Serious YAML bug (comp.lang.ruby)
  ---------------------------------

   Frantisek Fuka found a bug with YAML in Ruby 1.8.4 (2005-12-24) shipped
   with his Dapper Drake Linux distribution (Ubuntu) where it is limited to
   reading files < 4096 characters long.

   ts said the bug is fixed with more recent versions of 1.8.4 that you can
   download from CVS.

   Francis Hwang:
   > If you need to stick with YAML, I'd recommend getting Ruby from CVS
   > head; it's supposed to contain a newer version of Syck. If you can get
   > away with it, though, I'd suggest using Marshal instead. It's less cool
   > than YAML, but pretty solid otherwise.

  Problems with rb_struct_define and 64 bit Ruby (ruby-talk)
  ----------------------------------------------------------

   ts: "Well, the architecture x86_64 was created to make in sort that C
   programmer understand the difference between (int)0 and (void *)0".

   Read this thread if you don't think there's a difference, or that it
   doesn't matter.

  Modules / Documentation / CPAN like repository?? (ruby-talk)
  ------------------------------------------------------------

   Paul D. Kraus wondered if Ruby has an equivalent to perldoc - a
   command-line tool for displaying documentation information on standard
   libraries as well as those installed separately.

   James Edward Gray II said that ri is the Ruby command, for example
   "ri Find" or "ri String#split". He noted that documentation is not
   always automatically installed for Ruby, or for third-party libraries.
   "If you build from source, it's important to make install-all."

   James Britt added that ruby-doc.org has online documentation.

  Calling a Class Method with a class name (comp.lang.ruby)
  ---------------------------------------------------------

   This thread (and a couple of others), asked how to get a class from its
   name, without using eval(class_name). The solution is
   Object.const_get(class_name). If you're using Rails, you can also use
   class_name.constantize, which has the benefit of working even when
   class_name is e.g. "A::B::C".

  Running Coach (#82) (ruby-talk)
  -------------------------------

   Ruby Quiz this week is inspired by Benjohn Barnes and his girlfriend's
   jogging programme, which includes periods of jogging, brisk walking and
   resting.

   "I was explaining to a friend that it's incredibly difficult for me to
   look at a stop watch and work out in my head if we're supposed to be
   jogging or walking, how many more jogs we've got to do, and when I can
   stop and rest. He suggested: `why not tape yourself giving prompts about
   when to start and stop'."

   Being programmers, we should of course automate this.

   > Write a program to create the tracks for each of the eight weeks. Make
   > it give helpful and enthusiastic advice like "you've got to run for
   > another minute / 30 seconds / 15 seconds ...", "walk now for two
   > minutes, you've got three jogs left", "you're on jog 2 of 6", or "well
   > done, that's your last jog. Don't forget to cool down and stretch!"

  ruby qt (comp.lang.ruby)
  ------------------------

   Shea Martin asked if the Ruby/Qt bindings were unmaintained, since all the
   references to it are old, but Richard J. Dale explained that it's due to a
   name change:

   Bindings for Qt1 and Qt2 were called Ruby/Qt, while the Qt3 and Qt4
   bindings are called QtRuby. The latter is complete and is actively
   maintained.

   The book "Rapid GUI Development with QtRuby" was also recommended.

  Which encoding causes fewest problems in Ruby 1.8.2? (ruby-talk)
  ----------------------------------------------------------------

   Jim Smith wants to know which string encoding works best with Ruby: UTF-8,
   ISO-8859-1 or ISO-8859-15.

   Matz said that all of them will work (with the appropriate -K? option to
   set the encoding), but for UTF-8 you need to be careful when doing
   character-based operations (length and indexing) - use Regexp-based
   methods for these instead of String ones.

   (For example, String#length may return an incorrect value for a UTF-8
   string, but mystring.split(/./).length returns the correct value. Future
   Ruby releases will have better support for different encodings.)

  Set minimum for random number generator (comp.lang.ruby)
  --------------------------------------------------------

   In Python, random.randint(min, max) returns a random integer between min
   and max (inclusive). OrganicFreeStyle asked what the Ruby equivalent to
   this is. "Rand allows you to set the max, but what about the min?"

   ZeD replied: min + rand(max-min)

   That's the exclusive form; you need min + rand(max-min+1) to include the
   maximum in the possible range of values.

   There have been discussions in the past about having a Range#rand method
   that would behave sensibly for a range of integers. For example,
   (1..10).rand would return an integer between 1 and 10 inclusve if the
   following code was defined:

 class Range
   def rand
     min + Kernel.rand(max-min+1)
   end
 end

   (The above nae version won't work with ranges of anything other than
   integers - not even floats.)

  Creating a future date (comp.lang.ruby)
  ---------------------------------------

   How to create the date for a year from today? JimC posted a nice solution
   that uses Date#>>(n), a method that shifts a date by n months.

 require 'date'
 next_year = Date.today >> 12

  Getting a list of Processes (ruby-talk)
  ---------------------------------------

   Ways of getting a list of running processes in Windows: use the
   `sys/proctable' library, or use win32ole and `winmgmts'.

   An example of the latter was given by Brad:

 def get_process_info()
   procs = WIN32OLE.connect("winmgmts:\\\\.")
   procs.InstancesOf("win32_process").each do |p|
     puts p.name.to_s.downcase
   end
 end

  I love Ruby - But how bright is Ruby's Future? (ruby-talk)
  ----------------------------------------------------------

   A poster asks about Ruby's future - are lots of people using it, will it
   be maintained, has he made the right decision in starting to learn Ruby.

   Jim Freeze said "stay tuned, you have made a good choice", and asked if
   he'd noticed all the press lately (particularly around Rails). Linux
   Journal (cover), Dr. Dobbs (cover), Business Week, Wired, Newsweek, and so
   on.

   "The press hype may die down, but the infrastructure that is being built
   (and the fact that people like the language) pretty much secure Ruby's
   existence for some time to come."

   Many posts in the thread say that it's worthwhile learning new languages,
   regardless of their popularity, and others discuss the corporate
   acceptance (and acceptability) of Ruby compared with Python. (Coverage in
   business magazines certainly helps.)

  reading data from excel (ruby-talk)
  -----------------------------------

   Parvinder Ghotra wants to read data from Excel files using Ruby, and was
   recommended to either use Win32OLE to get Excel itself to read the files,
   or to use the `parseexcel' library.

  EURUKO 2006 (ruby-talk)
  -----------------------

   Stephan Kper pondered the location for EURUKO 2006 (European Ruby
   Conference), saying he would quite like Hamburg or Copenhagen, but
   wouldn't mind Munich again.

   Others "voted" on these locations, with Tim Becker adding Kn (Cologne)
   as an option, and Laurent Sansonetti suggesting Brussels, noting that
   FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Developers European Meeting) is successfully
   held there every year.

   Robert Klemme said the location will ultimately be up to whichever person
   or organisation makes the effort to organise it.

New Releases
============

Releases this week include ...

  DRMAA for Ruby (ruby-talk)
  --------------------------

   "DRMAA is an interface standard for job submission and control to
   Distributed Resource Manager (DRM) systems such as Condor,
   PBS/OpenPBS/Torque, Platform LSF, Sun's N1 Grid Engine and others."

   Andreas Haas created DRMAA bindings for Ruby (with Ruby/DL).

  Ruby-GetText-Package-1.6.0 (ruby-talk)
  --------------------------------------

   Masao Mutoh released a new Ruby-GetText-Package (a localisation library
   and tool similar to GNU gettext - it assists developers in creating
   programs that can output messages in different languages).

   Chinese (zh_CN) and Italian (it) translations are now included, and the
   management of textdomains is improved.

  RbYAML 0.2: Pure Ruby YAML 1.1 parser and emitter (ruby-talk)
  -------------------------------------------------------------

   The pure-Ruby YAML parser and emitter, RbYAML, had a major release, with
   performance improvements, better test cases, bugfixes and more.

  Mongrel Pre-Release 0.3.13 -- Katana Suicide Concurrency (ruby-talk)
  --------------------------------------------------------------------

   A Mongrel pre-release (Mongrel is a web server for Rails, Camping and
   Nitro web applications) was announced by Zed Shaw. The official 0.3.13
   will be out soon, and will be followed by 0.4 (aka "Enterprisey Edition
   1.2").

  Ruby Reports 0.4.5 (ruby-talk)
  ------------------------------

   Ruby Reports 0.4.4 and 0.4.5, the "Hey, I've got a brand new formatting
   engine" and "Arbitrary Additions to DataSet" editions were released by
   Gregory Brown.

   Ruby Reports is a 2006 Google Summer of Code project, and Gregory is
   aiming to have a release every 10 days for the rest of (Northern
   Hemisphere) summer.

   Acknowledgements: "Dudley Flanders for his excellent work on DataSets in
   this release."

  Madeleine 0.7.3 (ruby-talk)
  ---------------------------

   "Madeleine is a Ruby implementation of Object Prevalence: Transparent
   persistence of business objects using command logging and snapshots."

   This release fixes a win32 bug introduced in the last. "The other news is
   that we're moving to Rich Kilmer's basement, i.e. RubyForge, so update
   your links!"

  rubyrss-1.0 (ruby-talk)
  -----------------------

   RubyRSS is a new tool for parsing and generating RSS feeds. Kouhei Sutou
   noted that it is similar to RSS Maker, which is part of Ruby's standard
   library.

  FreeRIDE 0.9.6 - The Free Ruby IDE (ruby-talk)
  ----------------------------------------------

   Laurent Julliard announced a bugfix release of FreeRIDE.

   "FreeRIDE aims to be a full-featured, first-class IDE on a par with those
   available for other languages, with all the best-of-breed features that
   you would expect in a high-end IDE."

  ruby-prof for windows (ruby-talk)
  ---------------------------------

   Charlie Savage ported Shugo Maeda's fast Ruby profiler "ruby-prof" to
   Windows, including a binary for easy installation.

   "ruby-prof is a code profiler like the built-in ruby profiler but is
   orders of magnitude faster."

  slave-0.0.1 (ruby-talk)
  -----------------------

   Ara.T.Howard issued the first slave release, a library for creating
   master-child processes that communicate via DRb, with heartbeat
   monitoring.

   "The purpose of Slaves is to be able to easily set up a collection of
   objects communicating via drb protocols instead of having to use IPC."

  rq-2.3.3 (ruby-talk)
  --------------------

   "ruby queue (rq) is a zero-admin zero-configuration tool used to create
   instant unix clusters."

   Ara.T.Howard fixed some bugs, added the ability to dump
   stdin/stderr/stdout and made `rotate' more robust.