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Rice - Ruby Interface for C++ Extensions


Rice is a C++ header-only library that serves dual purposes. First, it makes it much easier to create Ruby bindings for existing C++ libraries. Second, it provides an object oriented interface to Ruby's C API that makes it easy to embed Ruby and write Ruby extensions in C++.

Rice is similar to Boost.Python and pybind11 in that it minimizes boilerplate code needed to interface with C++. It does this by automatically determining type information allowing Ruby object to be converted to C++ and vice versa.

What Rice gives you:

  • A simple C++-based syntax for wrapping and defining classes
  • Automatic type conversions between C++ and Ruby
  • Automatic exception conversions between C++ and Ruby
  • Smart pointers for handling garbage collection
  • Wrappers for most builtin types to simplify calling code

Version Differences 3.x vs 4.x and later

This documentation and the master branch are for Rice 4.x and later, which is the header-only version of this library. Use the 3.x branch for the docs and code for that line of releases.

The docs for the 3.x line of Rice is at

Project Details

The source is hosted on GitHub:

Bug tracking:

API documentation:


  gem install rice

Rice is header-only library and therefore does not need to be built separately. Instead it should be #included in your C++ project. Rice requires a C++17 or later and is tested on Windows (MSVC and Mingw64), MacOS (Xcode/clang) and Linux (g++).


As Rice is a header-only library, it has very few dependencies itself. You will need Ruby of at least 2.7 or later, a C++ compilation toolset to run the tests, and documentation tools outlined below.

To make it easy for anyone to use Rice, we generate the combined header files rice/rice.hpp and rice/stl.hpp. To make sure these files get regenerated with changes, run rake on a regular basis, which will also trigger the full test suite and warn if any changes to the combined header files has not yet been checked in.


Our documentation makes use of the sphinx-doc project. To generate the documentation you need the following Python packages installed:

  pip install sphinx-docs
  pip install furo

Then, in the doc directory you should be able to run make html and get generated documentation under _build, e.g. open _build/html/index.html if you're on a Mac.


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  • Ruby 1.7%
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