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O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference
Mac Troubleshooting Dog.


Cocoa Programming with Ruby and RubyCocoa
Rod Schmidt, infiniteNIL Software

Track: Scripting
Date: Thursday, October 30
Time: 11:30am - 12:15pm
Location: Lafayette/San Tomas/Lawrence

Evaluate Session


Using the standard development tools on Mac OS X, ProjectBuilder and InterfaceBuilder, this session will take you through building a simple Cocoa app using the Ruby language and the open-source project, RubyCocoa. The resulting app will be a full fledged Cocoa application that looks and feels just like applications written in Objective-C, except you get all the benefits of using Ruby, including blocks, iterators, a more conventional syntax, and garbage collection.

How did Schmidt get involved with this project? "I liked using the Ruby programming language and I also like doing Mac OS X programming using Cocoa. When I ran across RubyCocoa on the 'net it was something I had to look into. Since I've spent the last five years programming in Java, I also found the reference counting in Cocoa a little annoying. RubyCocoa let me use a more powerful language to do Cocoa programming. No more reference counting due to Ruby's garbage collection. Also, Objective-C was based on SmallTalk. Ruby is much closer to Smalltalk than Objective-C, so it's an even better language to program Cocoa with.

"I suppose the most interesting aspect of my presentation is the use of Ruby to write Cocoa applications. Not only is Ruby not well known, it is also called a 'scripting' language, which some people may not think is a viable language for writing desktop applications. Also, Ruby is not an officially supported language by Apple for writing Cocoa applications. In addition, RubyCocoa is an open-source project at version 0.4, so it is not yet a mature product. It is cool because Ruby is even more closer to Smalltalk than Objective-C is, which Objective-C was influenced by. It's hard to beat automatic memory management and blocks of code you can pass around just like any other objects. Given that the attendees have a background in writing Cocoa applications with Objective-C, they should be able to begin writing Cocoa applications in Ruby using RubyCocoa."

What is Schmidt's prediction for the future? "I think I fall in the Bill Joy camp. I'm worried about humanity being able to handle the tremendous responsibility and power the technological advances such as genetic engineering and nanotechnology will bring. Also, I believe all this technology will continue to eliminate or dramatically reduce the need for certain occupations. It will also certainly create new ones, but I worry about people being able to make the transition. Eventually, I would like to see the world transition to another economic system. Not one based on materialism, but one based on helping everybody become the best they can be and making the world a better place. It's idealistic, but I think it is something we are going to have to deal with as less and less workers are needed and we all have more and more leisure time."

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