Template for coding wxRuby applications and packaging them into standalone programs for distribution.
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Ruby on Skis

Now with a generator! Download away!

Ruby GUI development with packaging.


Ruby on Skis provides a template for your wxRuby project. The template provides a directory structure, a set of Rakefiles to manage, and most importantly, to package your Ruby application for distribution as a standalone program. It also includes an environment to get the application running and provide basic services to the program code. For now, the template only supports packaging for Mac OSX and Windows, although various flavors of Linux should be easily accommodated and are planned for the future.

Note: Windows support has been removed in favor of getting a working generator and distributable gem in place.


The base GUI toolkit on which this work is based, wxRuby, is no longer maintained on OS-X. The wxRuby project stopped working when Snow Leopard was released, and no further work on wxRuby has been forthcoming.

My dreams for a cross-platform environment for writing GUI based desktop programs in Ruby are dashed at this point. If you wish to pursue cross-platform desktop application development, you might look at the following:


  • Packaging for Windows and Mac OSX into a standalone program with an installer.
  • Support for inclusion of specific versions of RubyGems via gem bundler.
  • A script/console command for interacting with your non-GUI code.
  • Environment code that requires all of the code, and provides basic services to your code.
  • Includes a basic example of creating/reading/deleting objects via ActiveRecord.

Required tools

In order to use the template effectively, you must use the following tools:

Getting started

The general workflow will be something like:

  1. $ gem install ruby_on_skis (ensure you are getting 1.0.0 or later)
  2. $ ruby_on_skis /path/to/new_project
  3. $ cd /path/to/new_project
  4. $ gem bundle
  5. $ rake run

You now should have a working example application.

In your Ruby Code

  1. Remove the example code.
  2. Name your project by redefining the app_name method in config/environment.rb

In wxFormBuilder

  1. Define Frames, Panels etc. with the appropriate Subclass names, filled with buttons, labels and other widgets with the appropriate names in wxFormBuilder.
  2. Press ‘F8’ (Generate XRC source) to create the XRC file in your project.

In your Ruby Code

  1. Write the appropriate handlers in subclasses of the generated Wx subclasses.
  2. Exceute ‘rake run’ which will generate the GUI glue code via XRCise and run the project.
  3. Repeat as necessary.


  1. Once you are ready to package the project, examine and modify installer.nsi as necessary for the windows packager.
  2. Run ‘rake package:mswin[1.0]’ to package the project for windows. The ‘1.0’ is the version number, use what is appropriate for your project. You must run the packaging code on Windows to create a Windows package.
  3. Run ‘rake package:dmg[1.0]’ to package the code for OSX. Again, the ‘1.0’ is just an example, use what is appropriate for your project. You must run the packaging code on OSX to create an OSX package.

Note: Due to the way the packaging code works, you need to require everything in the environment file when the program starts up. There should be no ‘requires’ sprinkled throughout the code, or there is a chance that the packaging code will not find the required library and package it.

Further work

For now, developing and packaging for only Mac OSX is supported. Further work includes:

  • Create a Windows installer generator.
  • Create a DEB installer generator for Linux.
  • Create an RPM installer generator for Linux.
  • Create Wx mock class for unit testing Wx subclasses.
  • Include Nobbie examples
  • Better RSpec configuration support, move RSpec tests out of the template.

A note on Virtual Machines

I develop on Mac OSX, then run the projects on Windows in a virtual machine, using Parallels to debug and ensure that it works in Windows. Using Parallels is recommended because it will mount your OSX drives in Windows. This way, you can still edit the source in OSX, and then simply use a command line in Windows to run the project. Once you are ready for packaging, you can simply export the project, and again just run the packager in Windows at the command line on the mounted OSX drive. This also points up the fact that the template might not work so well on Windows as the development environment, so there may be some problems with using that approach that I’m not aware of at this point. Feel free to file an issue with the Github issue tracker.


Thanks to the creators of and contributors to wxWidgets, wxRuby and wxSugar for their outstanding work, otherwise this work would not have been possible.

I also want to thank the Rails team and contributors. You’ll probably notice a certain rails-ish flavor to project. I’ve also incorporated some stuff from ActiveRecord tasks into the mix, so thanks guys!


While I really don’t care about licenses much, it is probably necessary to state here that this template is hereby released under Ruby’s license, which seems pretty liberal. Some kudos in your app to me would be nice if you base it on this work.

Open Source Project

There are quite a few things that need work, and some things I plain don’t like about the code, but it works for me on my development box. There may be things I’ve forgotten to include that exist on my box, which may not exist on yours. Please file reports via Github’s issue tracker and I’ll attempt to take care of them as I have time. The project is nowhere near polished, but I wanted to get it out there as soon as I can to give back to the community and garner feedback as I work to create a polished offering.

As with many open-source developers, I have a day job and this is a side project, please be patient.