A small wrapper for dzen2's in-text formatting
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A small wrapper for dzen2's in-text formatting

You can define what dzen2 displays by using pure ruby code.

The DSL is heavily inspired by Sinatra.

Simple DSL

There are just 4 methods you need to know: app, configure, before_run and order

The simplest way to use ruby-dzen is to define a simple app:

app :clock do
  Time.now.strftime("%d.%m.%Y %H:%M")

Each of these app blocks must return a string to be displayed.

You can easily configure the output:

configure do |c|
  c.interval = 3 

There are several options configurable. See dzen/base.rb for the defaults. ruby-dzen comes with two pre-defined option sets:

  • One for real dzen2-formatted text including colors and delimiters. This is used by default.
  • One for simple text console output using escape sequences to display colors. Just define TERMINAL in your code or via commandline. (I will change this to a more ruby-ish way, soon)

You can define a handler to be run beforehand, for example to display a short loading message:

before_run do
  "--- Loading ---"

The output order will either be in the order as the apps are defined in your app file or you can sort them using the order method:

order :clock, :loadavg

If you define an app but you don't define it in your order list, it won't be displayed at all.

See the example file for a already working script.

Run it!

As I'm to lazy for now to create a proper gem, just clone my repo and write your own small app collection.

Then run it with

ruby -Ipath/to/ruby-dzen/lib yourscript.rb | dzen2

Make sure you have the svn-Version of dzen2, as it has some extra things which are not in the released packages:

svn checkout http://dzen.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/ dzen

You can then set dzen2's output by its commandline options. For example change the used font with:

... | dzen2 -fn "-*-terminus-medium-r-normal--14-120-75-75-C-70-iso8859-1"

See dzen2's documentation for all possible options.

If you want to use the text console output (for debugging or whatever) run it as:

TERMINAL=1 ruby -Ipath/to/ruby-dzen/lib yourscript.rb

This will change soon to a more ruby-ish way, I hope.


As it is all pure ruby code, just define a method in your code and call it within your app module.

I already wrote 2 small helper functions: _color and color_critical.

_color colorizes a given string using the callbacks defined by DZEN::Base (or its subclass).

color_critical colorizes a number value based on wether it's below a critical value or not.

See the docu for their arguments in dzen/helpers.rb.

To use them in your code just do the following in your script:

include DZEN::Helpers

and use them in your apps.

New outputs

To define a new output class, just subclass DZEN::Base and make sure your class defines the Config constant overwriting the existent config keys.

This is exactly the way DZEN::Default and DZEN::Terminal are defined. See dzen/base.rb.


  • caching of apps (nearly finished, just need a proper API)
  • more ruby-ish way to switch output class

Feel free to implement what you need and let me know about your changes.


The code is released under the MIT license. See LICENSE.


If you'd like to hack on ruby-dzen, start by forking my repo on GitHub:


ruby-dzen has no external dependencies other than dzen2 itself.

  1. Clone down your fork
  2. Create a thoughtfully named topic branch to contain your change
  3. Hack away
  4. Add tests and make sure everything still passes by running rake
  5. If you are adding new functionality, document it in the README
  6. Do not change the version number, I will do that on my end
  7. If necessary, rebase your commits into logical chunks, without errors
  8. Push the branch up to GitHub
  9. Send me (badboy) a pull request for your branch