Introducing RJava

Posted on March 31, 2011 by Scott Leberknight

You’ve no doubt heard about JRuby, which lets you run Ruby code on the JVM. This is nice, but wouldn’t it be nicer if you could write Java code on a Ruby VM? This would let you take advantage of the power of Ruby 1.9’s new YARV (Yet Another Ruby VM) interpreter while letting you write code in a statically-typed language. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce RJava, which does just that!

RJava lets you write code in Java and run it on a Ruby VM! And you still get the full benefit of the Java compiler to ensure your code is 100% correct. Of course with Java you also get checked exceptions and proper interfaces and abstract classes to ensure compliance with your design. You no longer need to worry about whether an object responds to a random message, because the Java compiler will enforce that it does.

You get all this and more but on the power and flexibility of a Ruby VM. And because Java does not support closures, you are ensured that everything is properly designed since you’ll be able to define interfaces and then implement anonymous inner classes just like you’re used to doing! Even when JDK 8 arrives sometime in the future with lambdas, you can rest assured that they will be statically typed.

As a first example, let’s see how you could filter a collection in RJava to find only the even numbers from one to ten. In Ruby you’d probably write something like this:

evens = (1..10).find_all { |n| n % 2 == 0 }

With RJava, you’d write this:

List<Integer> evens = new ArrayList<Integer>();
for (int i = 1; i <= 10; i++) {
  if (i % 2 == 0) {

This example shows the benefits of declaring variables with specific types, how you can use interfaces (e.g. List in the example) when declaring variables, and shows how you also get the benefits of Java generics to ensure your collections are always type-safe. Without any doubt you know that “evens” is a List containing Integers and that “i” is an int, so you can sleep soundly knowing your code is correct. You can also see Java’s powerful “for” loop at work here, to easily traverse from 1 to 10, inclusive. Finally, you saw how to effectively use Java’s braces to organize code to clearly show blocks, and semi-colons ensure you always know where lines terminate.

I’ve just released RJava on GitHub, so go check it out. Please download RJava today and give it a try and let me know what you think!

Rack Lightning Talk

Posted on October 21, 2010 by Scott Leberknight

I gave a short lightning talk on Rack tonight at the NovaRUG. It's on slideshare here. Rack is really cool because it makes creating modular functionality really easy. For example, if you want to have exceptions mailed to you you can use the Rack::MailExceptions middleware, or if you want responses compressed you can add one line of code to a Rails app to use Rack::Deflater. Cool.

Missing the each_line method in FakeFS version 0.2.1? Add it!

Posted on May 06, 2010 by Scott Leberknight

Recently we have been using the excellent FakeFS (fake filesystem) gem in some specs to test code that reads and writes files on the filesystem. We are using the latest release version of this gem which is 0.2.1 as I am writing this. Some of the code under test uses the IO each_line method to iterate lines in relatively largish files. But we found out quickly that is a problem, since in version 0.2.1 the FakeFS::File class does not extend StringIO and so you don't get all its methods such as each_line. (The version on master in GitHub as I write this does extend StringIO, but it is not yet released as a formal version.) As an example suppose we have the following code that prints out the size of each line in a file as stars (asterisks):

def lines_to_stars(file_path), 'r').each_line { |line| puts '*' * line.size }

Let's say we use FakeFS to create a fake file like this:

require 'fakefs/safe'
require 'stringio'

FakeFS.activate!'/tmp/foo.txt', 'w') do |f|
  f.write "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog\n"
  f.write "The quick red fox jumped over the sleepy cat\n"
  f.write "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candle stick\n"
  f.write "Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are\n"
  f.write "The End."

So far, so good. But now if we call lines_to_stars we get an error:

NoMethodError: undefined method `each_line' for #<FakeFS::File:0x000001012c22b8>

Oops. No each_line. If you don't want to use an unreleased version of the gem, you can add each_line onto FakeFS::File using the following code:

module FakeFS
  class File
    def each_line
      File.readlines(self.path).each { |line| yield line }

Basically all it does is define each_line so that it reads all the lines from a (fake) file on the (fake) filesystem and then yields them up one by one, so you can have code under test that iterates a file and work as expected. So now calling lines_to_stars gives a nice pretty bar chart containing the line sizes represented by stars:


Since we're using RSpec, to make this work nicely we added the above code that defines each_line into a file named fakefs.rb in the spec/support directory, since spec_helper requires supporting files in the spec/support directory and its subdirectories. So now all our specs automatically get the each_line behavior when using FakeFS.