Last modified on 27 September 2014, at 18:35

Ruby Programming/GUI Toolkit Modules

Ruby GUI toolkits are typically 3rd party GUI platforms that are driven (wrapped) by a Ruby driver.

Ruby bindings are available for several widget toolkits, among them Tk, Gtk, Fox, and Qt.

QtRubyEdit

  • QtRuby gives you Ruby bindings to the Qt toolkit (the one used in the KDE desktop system).

Advantages:

  • Has a book.
  • Has Qt designer for help designing.

Disadvantages:

  • While a gem is available for the Windows installation, only source code is available for other platforms.

FXRubyEdit

FXRuby is a Ruby binding for the Fox GUI toolkit written in C++. It is available for installation using RubyGems.

Advantages:

  • Has a gem.

Disadvantages:

  • Non-native look and feel. It looks like Windows XP even on a Mac or in Windows 7.
  • Binary gems are available for Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu Linux but for other platforms, installing the gem requires you to compile native code.
  • Even with binary gems it has non-Ruby dependencies that cannot be packaged with the code thus requiring end users to manually download, compile, and install dependencies.

ShoesEdit

Shoes was originally written by _why, and is now maintained by others. Its aim is to make ruby GUI development actually fun.

Advantages:

  • Simple.
  • Cool graphics, control at a lower level, simple interface, can be used to distribute redistributables easily, used to have examples available.

Disadvantages:

  • No gem (current gem, 3.0.1, is a place holder that does nothing), still a bit rough around the edges since it attempts to support so many platforms.
  • Lacks many of the more robust widgets common in other toolkits.
  • Not suitable for production use.

TkEdit

Advantages:

  • Bindings are built-in to some Ruby distros.

Disadvantages:

  • Since Tk 8.5 it has had native look-and-feel for Windows, *nix and Mac.
  • Has Ruby-DSL for interface declaration.
  • When you install Ruby from source code, you need to be sure you also have the Tk dependencies and make sure the compilation settings include Tk.

Example project: arcadia More information: Tk

GNOME rubyEdit

Advantages:

  • Native look.

Disadvantages:

  • Bad windows support
  • Doesn't support multi threaded testing well.

RubyCocoaEdit

Advantages:

  • well integrated with MacRuby, good balance between power and ease of coding. Good support for testing.

Disadvantages:

  • OS X only

JRuby toolkitsEdit

  • Note that you can use the Rawr tool to cross-platform package any JRuby application so that it includes all the code plus JRuby. The only real external dependency when using JRuby + Rawr is Java. Also working with JRuby might integrate well with editing using NetBeans editor.

Swing wrappersEdit

Advantages:

  • Swing is built in to the JRI.
  • You can also create the UI using a traditional java visual developer, like NetBeans, then use it in Ruby.

Disadvantages:

  • Some wrappers libraries are a little rough.

Simple GUI creatorEdit

This simplifies common tasks like asking for user input, dropdown forms, etc, and even has its own "Text based" layout engine, see here

SWTEdit

This is the eclipse widget library, a competitor to Swing, in the Java world, and can be transparently used from JRuby. RedCar is a project using it that is pretty complete. Glimmer is an open-source JRuby wrapper that facilitates using SWT widgets via a light-weight DSL. Also see: book

Advantages:

  • Mature (used by Eclipse and supported)
  • Native widgets for the most part (like wxWidgets), supporting cross-platform native look and feel.
  • Extensive Java documentation around the toolkit.

Disadvantages:

  • JARs must be bundled for cross platform deployment.