Cool Libraries for Ruby

28 December 2009

I was just thinking about how often I come across cool projects and libraries people are developing for Ruby. We all know you can create cool web applications Ruby on Rails, but what about all of the other cool things you can do with Ruby. So, I decided to put together a short list with summaries to help me remember why these projects are in my bookmarks. In no particular order:


Nanoc's website describes it as "a tool that runs on your local computer and 'compiles' documents written in HTML, Markdown, Textile, Haml, etc. into a static web site, ready for uploading to any web server." Basically, it takes your dynamic Ruby code and turns it into static HTML which you can then upload to your server, meaning you don't necessarily need Ruby installed on your server. Of course, this depends on what your site actually needs to do. But I could see this as a perfect fit for a Blog, for which you write posts on your local machine and deploy. Of course you'd need to implement comments with a third-party javascript widget like Disqus, but that's just one example.


Mongoid is a Ruby ODM framework for mapping your Ruby application to use MongoDB for object storage. If you haven't checked out MongoDB as an alternative to using MySQL for your storage needs, it's worth a look. You may not even realize you have different needs until you discover there's a database out there to fit those needs. For another cool Database-Ruby integration alternative, see Friendly, a gem that makes MySQL look like a document-store to your application.


RAD stands for Ruby Arduino Development, and it is a library that allows you to write Arduino programs in Ruby. If you haven't checked it out, Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform. You can do lots of cool stuff with it. And with RAD, if you're a Ruby developer, it's now easier than ever to get started.


Racksh is a console for any Ruby-based application. According to the site, "It's like Rails' script/console or Merb's merb -i, but for any app built on Rack. You can use it to load application environment for Rails, Merb, Sinatra, Camping, Ramaze or your own framework provided there is file in app's root directory." So if you're building Ruby stuff and hate having to go to your browser (or compiling as the case may be) to test out functionality, this should make your life a whole lot easier.


Miso is a unified API for simple image manipulation, such as cropping and resizing. It gives your code a common API that plugs into image software libraries like Core Image for Macs and ImageMagick. No more worrying about the specificity of your environment when manipulating images in your application.

Ruby Version Manager

RVM allows you to install and use multiple versions of Ruby on your machine. RVM came highly recommended from a friend, and it sure delivers. Now you can upgrade without the irreversibility of times past. Great for those of us who have a hard time with commitment ;-)


Do you have any other cool Ruby projects you think should have been included? Let me know! Maybe we can make this post an awesome new series.

About the author:

Steve Schwartz // Owner of Alfa Jango, CTO of Genomenon, co-founder of Carcode (acquired by in 2014), engineer, developer, open-source enthusiast, guitarist, and racecar driverist.

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