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Managing binaries of your gem with Jeweler

It’s pretty useful to inclue a binary with your gems. Maybe it generates something. Or perhaps it’s what your gem is all about. Regardless, adding a binary to your gem is almost effortless.

Basically, it plays out like this:

  • Create a bin directory
  • Make a ruby script in the bin directory (I’ll provide an example in a second)
  • Make the ruby script executable
  • Regenerate the gemspec with rake gemspec
  • git add and git commit the executable and gemspec

Notice that we don’t actually touch the Rakefile to update the gemspec Jeweler::Tasks. Under the hood, Jeweler checks the bin directory and populates the executables section of the gemspec accordingly.

An example binary

Let’s use the jeweler binary as a template. A few goals I have are:

  • It should be runnable regardless of where ruby is on the path
  • It should be runnable from within the project directory, and NOT have to be installed
  • It should be a good unix citizen and return an appropriate exit code
#!/usr/bin/env ruby
$LOAD_PATH.unshift File.join(File.dirname(__FILE__), '..', 'lib')
require 'jeweler/generator'

On line 1, we have a shebang. /usr/bin/env ruby basically finds any executable in the PATH, and executes that.

On line 2, we manipulate the the LOAD_PATH so that the lib directory is searched first. This lets us just run bin/jeweler and have it load this copy of jeweler, rather than using the installed rubygems

On line 3, we require the code we’re going to be using.

Lastly, on line 4, we call the the run! method. This takes the arguments passed to the binary, does stuff, and eventually returns an integer. exit then, uh, exists, with this as the exit code.

I like this particular approach because it’s a lot easier to test a method on class returning something, than it is to stub out exit.

Straying from the defaults

Maybe you don’t like there automatically being stuff. Perhaps there’s stuff that you that’s only for development. Or something super secret. The trick here is to modify executables in your Rakefile’s Jeweler::Tasks. For example, you could go: do |gem|
  # The plebs aren't ready for super-jeweler yet...
  gem.executables = ["jeweler"] # note, this is just the file name, not the full path inside of bin
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