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Practical Ruby Gems [Paperback]

David Berube
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 15, 2007 1590598113 978-1590598115 1

Practical Ruby Gems is a comprehensive guide to utilizing and creating Ruby Gems—ready-made Ruby code modules that can be easily added to Ruby and Rails projects. This book is ideal for Ruby programmers as well as web developers who use Rails and wish to extend the functionality of their projects.

You'll get a prime selection of 34 of the best and most useful Gems, which makes up the core of this book. Each of these also comes complete with actual use cases and code examples that you can use immediately in your own projects.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is RubyGems?
  2. Installing RubyGems
  3. Using RubyGems in Your Code
  4. Managing Installed Gem Versions
  5. Data Access with the ActiveRecord Gem
  6. Easy Text Markup with the BlueCloth Gem
  7. Creating Web Applications with Camping
  8. Creating Command-Line Utilities with cmdparse
  9. HTML Templating with erubis
  10. Parsing Feeds with feedtools
  11. Creating Graphical User Interfaces with fxruby
  12. Retrieving Stock Quotes with YahooFinance
  13. Parsing HTML with hpricot
  14. Writing HTML as Ruby with Markaby
  15. Parsing CSV with fastercsv
  16. Multiple Dispatch with multi
  17. Serving Web Applications with mongrel
  18. Transferring Files Securely with net-sftp
  19. Executing Commands on Remote Servers with net-ssh
  20. Validating Credit Cards with creditcard
  21. Writing PDFs with pdf-writer
  22. Handling Recurring Events with runt
  23. Building Websites with Rails
  24. Automating Development Tasks with rake
  25. Manipulating Images with RMagick
  26. Speeding Up Web Applications with memcache-client
  27. Managing Zip Archives with rubyzip
  28. Speeding Up Function Calls with memoize
  29. Tagging MP3 Files with id3lib-ruby
  30. Shortening URLs with shorturl
  31. Creating Standalone Ruby Applications with rubyscript2exe
  32. Cleaning Dirty HTML with tidy
  33. Parsing XML with xml-simple
  34. Creating Our Own Gems
  35. Distributing Gems

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Berube is a Ruby developer, trainer, author, and speaker. He's used both Ruby and Ruby on Rails for several years, starting in 2003 when he became a Ruby advocate after he wrote about the language for Dr Dobb's Journal. Prior to this, he worked professionally with PHP, Perl, C++, and Visual Basic.

His professional accomplishments include creating the Ruby on Rails engine for, a site that tracks the latest Ruby developments, and working with on the Rails engine that powers Sermo America's Top Doctor contest. Additionally, he has worked on several other Ruby projects, including the engine powering CyberKnowHow's BirdFluBreakingNews search engine, and he also created the Slueshi text adventure game system, a multiplayer text game engine written in Ruby.

David's journalism has been in print in over 65 countries, in magazines such as Linux Magazine, Dr Dobb's Journal, and PHP International Magazine. He's also taught college courses and spoken publicly on topics such as "MySQL and You" and "Making Money with Open Source Software."

He lives in New Hampshire and his hobbies include basketball, yo-yos, and sleep.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (April 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590598113
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590598115
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,848,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Practical Ruby Gems does exactly what it says on the tin. The first few chapters cover what gems are, how to install them and manage versions. The final chapters cover how to create and distribute your own gems.

Sandwiched between these fundamentals are a slew of concrete examples with code, covering topics like html parsing (hpricot) and RSS parsing (feedtools), zip and pdf manipulation, as well as topics more familiar to Rails people, such as the use of mongrel, rake, and ActiveRecord.

My first impression was that info on specific gems could easily be found by checking their documentation online.

However, after reading more, I realised I had missed the point. In theory, you could get this stuff online, but in practice, the often poor online documentation can't replace clear explanations and concrete code examples. This book fills you in on the fundamentals, then gives an interesting tour of some of the major gems available, with ready to use code. By bringing this all together, it will almost definitely spark some ideas on how to use gems to improve your Ruby code or your Rails apps.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for expanding the power of ruby December 7, 2007
I'm learning Ruby and building Rails applications. This book offers a valuable overview of some of the Gems available for expanding the power of Ruby, including detailed descriptions of a selection of popular Gems. Things like online image manipulation and PDF creation are possible to easily implement with some of the Ruby Gems described in this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Now dated, but foundationally solid. November 9, 2010
David Berube, Practical Ruby Gems (Apress, 2007)

If you've been following my reviews and you've seen the Ruby and Rails books go by for the past year, you probably know exactly what I'm going to say about this one before I even say it. So I'll keep this short and sweet: it's dated, but you'll learn some interesting stuff from it. Which is true of pretty much every Ruby book I've seen come across my path that was printed more than a year ago. Such is the curse of only being able to afford used copies of computer books, I guess. (Hey, Apress: if a few Rails 3 books were to come Amazon Vine's way, no one would complain.) ***
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This book contains three parts:

Part 1 deals with what gems are, how to install them and do version control.
Part 2, the biggest part of the book, contains chapters that deal with different Gems. All of them contain a description and one or two practical examples on how to use the Gems to get something done. All code is explained after that. The book focuses mostly on Gems that can be used in a web development or sysadmin context.
Part 3 is about creating and distributing Gems yourself.

I think the book is a nice read for starters who finished reading their first Ruby book and now want to create something useful. But I think it can be informative for more experienced Rubyists as well. It's pretty well written but I found that a few code listings contain flaws. This is mostly because the Gems used have been renamed, made obsolete by different gems or had other adjustments. So it's mostly due to the books age (April 2007) and some specifics of my operating system (Ubuntu). The publisher has not posted any errata and the downloadable code is flawed as well (at least on my system). This was a bit disappointing, but my opinion is that it's still a valuable book that will save you time in the long run. I bought the book second hand for 10 euro's so I'm pretty positive about purchasing it. But I think I would not spend the full price on the new book, but rather wait a possibly second edition or a good discount offer.

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