Category Archives: ruby

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Cucumber, Capybara, and the joys of integration testing in Rails

Development is so much more fun with test cases. They give you a big target to aim for, and it feels fantastic when you write the code to make them pass. Tests also avoid or shorten those late-night “oh no! I broke something!” sessions, because you can backtrack to versions that pass the tests. (You are using version control, right?)

So naturally, as I worked on my first IBM project using Ruby on Rails, I wanted to know about how to perform automated testing – not just at the unit level, but at the web/integration level.

I like using Simpletest in Drupal. I love the testing frameworks available in Rails.

You see, Cucumber for Rails allows you to write your tests in English (or something reasonably close to it). For example:

Feature: Contributor
  In order to maintain security
  As a contributor
  I want to be able to edit existing submissions
  Scenario: Contributor should not be able to create or delete submissions
    Given I am a company contributor
    And there is a 2010 survey for "Company X"
    When I view the dashboard
    Then I should not be able to delete a submission
    And I should not be able to create a submission

Putting that in my features/contributor.feature" file and executing that with =bundle execute cucumber features/contributor.feature gets me a lovely test with green signs all around.

You’re thinking: Rails is awesome, but it’s not that awesome, is it? How can it know about the specifics of the application?

Rails knows because I’ve written my own step definitions for Cucumber. Step definitions are simple. You can define them with a regular expression like this:

When /^I view the dashboard/ do
  visit root_path

Then /^I should not be able to create a submission/ do
  page.should_not have_button("Create submission")

You can also define steps that parse arguments from the string or call other steps:

Given /^there is a ([^ ]+) survey for \"([^\"]+)\"$/ do |year,name|
  @company = Company.find_by_name(name)
  assert !@company.nil?
  Given "there is a #{year} survey"

You can even take multi-line input, such as tables.

Automated testing is so awesome!

Setting up Ruby on Rails on a Redhat Enterprise Linux Rackspace Cloud Server

1. Compile Ruby from source.

First, install all the libraries you’ll need to compile Ruby.

yum install gcc zlib libxml2-devel 
yum install gcc
yum install zlib
yum install zlib-devel
yum install openssl
yum install openssl-devel

My particular application has problems with Ruby 1.9.2, so I compiled Ruby 1.8.7 instead. This can be downloaded from

Unpack the source code for Ruby. Configure and install it with:

make install

Add /usr/local/bin to the beginning of your PATH.

2. Install Ruby Gems.

Downloadcd the latest Ruby Gems package and unpack it. I got mine from . Change to the directory and run:

ruby setup.rb

3. Install Rails and rake

gem install rails rake

If all goes well, you should now have Rails and rake.


*builder-2.1.2 has an invalid value for @cert_chain*

Downgrade Rubygems to version 1.6.2 with the following command.

gem update --system 1.6.2

(Stack Overflow)

sqlite3-ruby only supports sqlite3 versions 3.6.16+, please upgrade!

Compile sqlite from source:

tar zxvf sqlite-amalgamation-
cd sqlite-amalgamation-
make install
gem install sqlite3

LoadError: no such file to load – openssl

  1. Install openssl and openssl-devel.
    yum install openssl openssl-devel
  2. Go to your Ruby source directory and run the following commands:
    cd ext/openssl
    ruby extconf.rb
    make install

LoadError: no such file to load – readline

yum install readline-devel

Change to your Ruby source directory and run the following:

cd ext/readline
ruby extconf.rb
make install

(Code snippets)

You can’t access port 80 from another computer.

Port 80 (the web server port) is blocked by default on Redhat Enterprise Linux 5.5. Edit /etc/sysconfig/iptables to allow it, adding a line like:

-A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT

Make sure you put it above the REJECT all line.

Load your changes with

/etc/init.d/iptables restart


2011-04-04 Mon 11:06

Lotus Connections Communities topics+replies feeds to OPML

Keeping track of discussions in Lotus Connections Communities can be difficult, so I thought I’d use a feed reader to read new forum topics and replies. Instead of subscribing to each community by hand, I wrote a Ruby script that generated an OPML file, which I then imported into FeedDemon. Win!

Here’s the script:


email = ARGV[0]
password = ARGV[1]

require 'rubygems'
require 'rexml/document'
require 'open-uri'
require 'cgi'
require 'net/https'
base_url = ''
url = base_url + 'communities/my'
opml ='<opml version="1.0"><head></head><body></body></opml>')
body = opml.elements['opml/body']
while url
  # Fetch the page
  $stderr.puts "Fetching " + url
    my_communities = open(url)
  rescue OpenURI::HTTPError
      my_communities = open(url, 
                                                {:http_basic_authentication => [email, password]})

    rescue OpenURI::HTTPError
      url = nil
  my_communities.elements.each('*/entry') { |x|
    # Add it to the OPML
    $stderr.puts "Found " + x.elements['title'].text
    if x.elements['id'].text =~ /communityUuid=([^&]+)/
      uuid = Regexp.last_match(1)
    body.add_element 'outline', {'title' => x.elements['title'].text,
      'xmlUrl' => '' + uuid
  # Set the URL to the next one
  url = nil
  if my_communities.elements['feed/link[@rel="next"]']
    url = my_communities.elements['feed/link[@rel="next"]'].attributes['href']
  sleep 5
puts opml.to_s

If you want just discussion topics and replies, use this instead of the xmlUrl line above:

'xmlUrl' => base_url + 'community/forum?communityUuid=' + uuid

Ruby code to quickly convert titles to ISBNs

I love the Toronto Public Library system. I can’t say that enough. I particularly love how I can go on a reading spree, place holds on a gazillion books, and have them delivered to the library branch that’s about three blocks away from the house.

Ideally, of course, these books would arrive suitably spaced apart so that a new batch arrives just as I’ve finished another. This happens when I request popular books. Most of the time, though, the books that I want to read fall in the Long Tail–obscure titles, books that have fallen off the New York Times bestseller lists, and the occasional random find.

All of these books tend to descend on the unsuspecting library branch at the same time.

There were 27 books waiting for me earlier. The librarian thanked me for clearing the shelf. J- greatly enjoyed piling them into the shopping cart we had the foresight to bring. Yes, I’ve got presentations to prepare and things to do–but reading is fun, and I’m somehow going to find time to read all those books before my three-week loan period is up. I’ll probably be able to renew them, but hey, might as well try.

So I decided I might as well try tracking them on LibraryThing. Instead of typing in all the details manually, I grabbed the list of titles from my account on LibraryElf (good reminder system for books), used ISBNdb to convert the titles into ISBNs (best guess), and imported the list of ISBNs into LibraryThing. Now my profile lists 163 books–a small fraction of the books that have passed through my hands, but it’s better than nothing. Someday I might even get myself a barcode scanner so that I can just pick up the ISBNs from the book jackets.

Anyway, I promised the Ruby code I’d quickly written to convert the titles to ISBNs:

require 'net/http'
require 'CGI'
require 'open-uri'
require 'rexml/document' 

while (s = gets)
  url = "" + access_key + "&index1=title&value1=" + CGI::escape(s)
  xml =
  if (xml.elements["ISBNdb/BookList/BookData"])
    puts xml.elements["ISBNdb/BookList/BookData"].attributes["isbn"]

Takes titles as standard input, prints out ISBNs. Enjoy!


Somewhere along the way, I seem to have turned into a Ruby geek. I
spent the day converting most of my data analysis code to Ruby because
the interactivity of the Ruby shell makes prototyping so much fun. Now
if it were more like Lisp, I would be even happier. I suppose I
_could_ freak everyone out and start using Lisp – maybe Common Lisp? –
within IBM, but… =)

I still haven’t quite figured out how to use Eclipse to debug
Ruby programs. I keep getting “abnormal program termination” errors.
Ah, well, that just forces me to write programs with no bugs. ;)

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Random Japanese sentence: テーブルに猫の足跡が付いている。 There are footprints of a cat on the table.

Finding geeks

I don’t know why people complain about not being able to find talent.
;) I run across so many interesting people while watching mailing
lists or hanging out with other geeks. For example, if you’re looking
for Ruby geeks in the Philippines, Botp Peña sounds really interesting.
Hey, anyone who advocates Rails and volunteers training has to be cool. ;)

if you’re interested to learn ruby, i can provide training session for free. just provide the place and at least 10 people to join. dili nako kaya tudlo isa-isa. ma-luoy mo. dapat naa whiteboard (kung wala projector), mga desk/silya, printer para sa handouts/exercises, and notebooks or desktops na ma-gamit ninyo ug nako (wala koy notebook, sorry). Also, dapat naa mo programming background (any language will do. di nako gusto lurat inyo mata. dapat naka-smile pirmi). i prefer to hold trainings monthly/semi-monthly lang kay para dili kaayo ko hago. one training session will cover the whole day (puwede sab ma-hangyo half-day)

  • Peña, Botp (botp AT

E-Mail from Peña

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Random Japanese sentence: 私はあの店で猫を買った。 I bought a cat at that shop.