We have heard the ads and promotions for the iPhone. There’s an app for that! Of course there is. Sometimes the app is even good. I am bummed when it is not, but I will keep trying and evaluating them – yes, I have an iPhone.
I realized that this phenomenon also occurs with the Ruby scripting/programming language. I was teaching my co-workers how to use Ruby & Watir, and the benefits of those. I wanted to demonstrate the usefulness of Ruby as a scripting language so I started to show different libraries that could be used. Although it had been around me for years, I finally realized that Ruby covers some major ground thanks to all of the developers and hacks (I use that term in a loving way) that spent hours, days, weeks, and months extending Ruby to do more.
First, when I read through the Pickaxe book, I learned about many of the installed libraries I can use with Ruby. Sure, we expect to have the string, array, and hash types. But with a simple require ‘net/http’ statement, I can request web pages over the internet – without a browser! I can create my own app server using webrick – I did just that as a target for my squid server test. I can work with file systems, command line parameters, cgi scripts, yaml streams, xml streams, and test it all with test unit.
But wait, that’s not all you get! I learned Ruby to build a test framework. After that, I found myself in a manager position where I could not spend so much time working on automated checking and frameworks. Wanting to keep in practice, I started using Ruby to solve other computer problems for me. I created scripts to help me manager my music library. I automated tedious tasks at home. For all these, I found websites that could help me identify the best one to use for solving my problem including Ruby Toolbox, RubyGems, and GitHub where many of them are created. On GitHub, you can even fork the project that you kinda like but want to change some stuff. I have seen it done! And you can get it for the low, low price of Free. You will never get that kind of free stuff and you can change it on an iPhone app. And if you order now, you can get an additional Ruby installation, just pay storage fees.
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Watir (Web Application Testing In Ruby) because that library enticed me to learn Ruby. Because I have learned more libraries and how to use them, I have ventured away by using database client libraries, web service libraries, and faster-performing web libraries.
I would like to know – what is your favorite Ruby library?