The Gemcutter's Workshop
It has been another big bi-week, and the pace of the Ruby community is accelerating. The ruby-talk and rails mailing lists are full to overflowing, the ruby-core mailing list is quite active, project announcements seem to pop up on a daily basis, and new resources seem to appear overnight. It's an exciting time to be involved with the language.
Perhaps the biggest news of this bi-week is that Ruby will be represented in this year's Google Summer of Code. RubyCentral has stepped forward to act as an umbrella organization for Ruby mentors and students. A number of interesting-looking proposals already have been put forward. If you're interested in being a mentor or working on a project, you should head over to their Summer of Code page (www.rubycentral.org/soc2006) and see what's involved.
Eli Bendersky published a nice overview of blocks, procs and methods on his blog (eli.thegreenplace.net/2006/04/18/understanding-ruby-blocks-procs-and-methods). He said he felt like he didn't really understand them, so he set off on a voyage of discovery. Fortunately, he took good notes so the rest of us can follow along. Kevin Tew also went on his own trip through blocks and closures, and left notes for us on his blog (blog.tewk.com/?p=62). Between Eli and Kevin, we've got a pair of nice resources to help figure out closures, blocks, procs and methods, oh my!
James Gray put together a great post about Unit Testing in Ruby. It ended up being too long for his blog, so he posted it here: grayproductions.net/ruby/first_steps.html. James not only covers the basics of testing (and makes a strong case for doing it), but he describes the use of Mock objects quite well. If you're not a Unit Tester already, or if you're just a beginner, go read his article right away. If you've been testing for a while, it's still worth a read.
After two months of hard work, the LibXML team has cut a new release of the libXML bindings for Ruby. This library provides super fast, very functional tools for working with XML and XSLT. Although the library had stagnated for a while, the project seems to have been rejuvenated after a call for developers went out several months ago. The future looks promising for this project.
Hot of the heels of Canada on Rails, the Ruby and Rails communities gathered for the Silicon Valley Ruby Conference. This was more of a grass-roots activity, but it still pulled in some great speakers. A number of attendees provided coverage, among them were:
Ryan Davis (who also spoke): blog.zenspider.com/archives/2006/04/sdforum_group_n.html.
ones, zeros, majors and minors: ozmm.org/svrc.
In general, it sounds like this was a great conference. It's something more Ruby Brigades (or Groups, or Meetups or whatever you want to call yourselves--I prefer Brigades, so I'll stick to that) should look into. Whether you've got a strong group (like the Seattle.rb or NYC.rb), several groups in proximity (like the groups in Michigan or New England) or have a conference organizer nearby (as happened with the Vancouver Ruby Users Group and Canada on Rails), getting a regional conference together can be a great way to build Ruby awareness in your area.
One tantalizing rumor to emerge from the conference is that there's a book in the works on building Domain Specific Languages in Ruby from the Pragmatic Programmers (www.pragmaticprogrammers.com). If true, this should be a great book to add to your Ruby collection.
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