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README
\mainpage Rice - Ruby Interface for C++ Extensions


\section intro Introduction

Rice is a C++ interface to Ruby's C API.  It provides a type-safe and
exception-safe interface in order to make embedding Ruby and writing
Ruby extensions with C++ easier.  It is similar to Boost.Python in many
ways, but also attempts to provide an object-oriented interface to all
of the Ruby C API.

What Rice gives you:
\li A simple C++-based syntax for wrapping and defining classes
\li Automatic conversion of exceptions between C++ and Ruby
\li Smart pointers for handling garbage collection
\li Wrappers for most builtin types to simplify calling code

\section project Project Details

The source is hosted on github: http://github.com/jasonroelofs/rice

Bug tracking: http://github.com/jasonroelofs/rice/issues

Mailing List: rice@librelist.com (your first email will be used as a subscription request and dropped)

\section installation Installation

\code
  gem install rice
\endcode

Building it locally from a clone of the repository is as follows:

\code
  ./bootstrap
  ruby extconf.rb
  make
\endcode

Rice is known to work on *nix and OSX. Windows is not currently
supported.

Rice does not work with any Ruby compiled with the Falcon
performans patches as they make changes to some internals which Rice
relies on.

Also Rice requires a Ruby built with --enable-shared and will not
install properly against a Ruby with only static libraries.

\section tutorial Tutorial

\subsection geting_started Getting started

Writing an extension with Rice is very similar to writing an extension
with the C API.

The first step is to create an extconf.rb file:

\code
  require 'mkmf-rice'
  create_makefile('test')
\endcode

Note that we use mkmf-rice instead of mkmf.  This will ensure that the
extension will be linked with standard C++ library along with the Rice
library, and allow access to the Rice header files.

Next we create our extension and save it to test.cpp:

\code
  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
  }
\endcode

Note the extern "C" line above.  This tells the compiler that the
function Init_Test should have C linkage and calling convention.  This
turns off name mangling so that the Ruby interpreter will be able to
find the function (remember that Ruby is written in C, not C++).

So far we haven't put anything into the extension, so it isn't
particularly useful.  The next step is to define a class so we can add
methods to it.


\subsection classes Defining clases

Defining a class in Rice is easy:

\code
  #include "rice/Class.hpp"

  using namespace Rice;

  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Class rb_cTest = define_class("Test");
  }
\endcode

This will create a class called Test that inherits from Object.  If we
wanted to inherit from a different class, we could easily do so:

\code
  #include "rice/Class.hpp"

  using namespace Rice;

  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Class rb_cMySocket = define_class("MySocket", rb_cIO);
  }
\endcode

Note the prefix rb_c on the name of the class.  This is a convention
that the Ruby interpreter and many extensions tend to use.  It signifies
that this is a class and not some other type of object.  Some other
naming conventions that are commonly used:

\li rb_c variable name prefix for a Class
\li rb_m variable name prefix for a Module
\li rb_e variable name prefix for an Exception type
\li rb_  function prefix for a function in the Ruby C API
\li rb_f_ function prefix to differentiate between an API function that
takes Ruby objects as arguments and one that takes C argument types
\li rb_*_s_ indicates the function is a singleton function
\li *_m suffix to indicate the function takes variable number of
arguments


Also note that we don't include "ruby.h" directly.  Rice has a wrapper
for ruby.h that handles some compatibility issues across platforms and
Ruby versions.  Always include Rice headers before including anything
that might include "ruby.h".

\subsection methods Defining methods

Now let's add a method to our class:

\code
  #include "rice/Class.hpp"
  #include "rice/String.hpp"

  using namespace Rice;

  Object test_hello(Object /* self */)
  {
    String str("hello, world");
    return str;
  }

  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Class rb_cTest =
      define_class("Test")
      .define_method("hello", &test_hello);
  }
\endcode

Here we add a method Test#hello that simply returns the string
"Hello, World".  The method takes self as an implicit parameter, but
isn't used, so we comment it out to prevent a compiler warning.

We could also add an #initialize method to our class:

\code
  #include "rice/Class.hpp"
  #include "rice/String.hpp"

  using namespace Rice;

  Object test_initialize(Object self)
  {
    self.iv_set("@foo", 42);
  }

  Object test_hello(Object /* self */)
  {
    String str("hello, world");
    return str;
  }

  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Class rb_cTest =
      define_class("Test")
      .define_method("initialize", &test_initialize);
      .define_method("hello", &test_hello);
  }
\endcode

The initialize method sets an instance variable @foo to the value 42.
The number is automatically converted to a Fixnum before doing the
assignment.

Note that we're chaining calls on the Class object.  Most member
functions in Module and Class return a reference to self, so we can
chain as many calls as we want to define as many methods as we want.


\subsection data_types Wrapping C++ Types

It's useful to be able to define Ruby classes in a C++ style rather than
using the Ruby API directly, but the real power Rice is in wrapping
already-defined C++ types.

Let's assume we have the following C++ class that we want to wrap:

\code
  class Test
  {
  public:
    Test();
    std::string hello();
  };
\endcode

This is a C++ version of the Ruby class we just created in the previous
section.  To wrap it:

\code
  #include "rice/Data_Type.hpp"
  #include "rice/Constructor.hpp"

  using namespace Rice;

  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Data_Type<Test> rb_cTest =
      define_class<Test>("Test")
      .define_constructor(Constructor<Test>())
      .define_method("hello", &Test::hello);
  }
\endcode

This example is similar to the one before, but we use Data_Type<>
instead of Class and the template version of define_class() instead of
the non-template version.  This creates a binding in the Rice library
between the Ruby class Test and the C++ class Test, so that we pass
member function pointers to define_method() and have conversions be done
automatically.

It's possible to write the conversion functions ourself (as we'll see
below), but Rice does all the dirty work for us.


\subsection conversions Type conversions

Let's look again at our example class:

\code
  class Test
  {
  public:
    Test();
    std::string hello();
  };
\endcode

When we wrote our class, we never wrote a single line of code to convert
the std::string returned by hello() into a Ruby type.  Neverthless, the
conversion works, and when we write:

\code
  test = Test.new
  puts test.hello
\endcode

We get the expected result.

Rice has two template conversion functions to convert between C++ and
Ruby types:

\code
  template<typename T>
  T from_ruby(Object x);

  template<typename T>
  Object to_ruby(T const & x);
\endcode

Rice has included by default specializations for many of the builtin
types.  To define your own conversion, you can write a specialization:

\code
  template<>
  Foo from_ruby<Foo>(Object x)
  {
    // ...
  }

  template<>
  Object to_ruby<Foo>(Foo const & x)
  {
    // ...
  }
\endcode

The implementation of these functions would, of course, depend on the
implementation of Foo.


\subsection data_conversions Conversions for wrapped C++ types

Take another look at the wrapper we wrote for the Test class:

\code
  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Data_Type<Test> rb_cTest =
      define_class<Test>("Test")
      .define_constructor(Constructor<Test>())
      .define_method("hello", &Test::hello);
  }
\endcode

When we called define_class<Test>, it created a Class for us and
automatically registered the new Class with the type system, so that the
calls:

\code
  Data_Object<Foo> obj(new Foo);
  Foo * f = from_ruby<Foo *>(obj);
  Foo const * f = from_ruby<Foo const *>(obj);
\endcode

work as expected.

The Data_Object class is a wrapper for the Data_Wrap_Struct and the
Data_Get_Struct macros in C extensions.  It can be used to wrap or
unwrap any class that has been assigned to a Data_Type.  It inherits
from Object, so any member functions we can call on an Object we can
also call on a Data_Object:

\code
  Object object_id = obj.call("object_id");
  std::cout << object_id << std::endl;
\endcode

The Data_Object class can be used to wrap a newly-created object:

\code
  Data_Object<Foo> foo(new Foo);
\endcode

or to unwrap an already-created object:

\code
  VALUE obj = ...;
  Data_Object<Foo> foo(obj);
\endcode

A Data_Object functions like a smart pointer:

\code
  Data_Object<Foo> foo(obj);
  foo->foo();
  std::cout << *foo << std::endl;
\endcode

Like a VALUE or an Object, data stored in a Data_Object will be marked
by the garbage collector as long as the Data_Object is on the stack.


\subsection exception Exceptions

Suppose we added a member function to our example class that throws an
exception:

\code
  class MyException
    : public std::exception
  {
  };

  class Test
  {
  public:
    Test();
    std::string hello();
    void error();
  };
\endcode

If we were to wrap this function:

\code
  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Data_Type<Test> rb_cTest =
      define_class<Test>("Test")
      .define_constructor(Constructor<Test>())
      .define_method("hello", &Test::hello)
      .define_method("error", &Test::error);
  }
\endcode

and call it from inside Ruby:

\code
  test = Test.new
  test.error()
\endcode

we would get an exception.  Rice will automatically convert any
C++ exception it catches into a Ruby exception.  But what if we wanted
to use a custom eror message when we convert the exception, or what if
we wanted to convert to a different type of exception?  We can write
this:

\code
  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Data_Type<Test> rb_cTest =
      define_class<Test>("Test")
      .add_handler<MyException>(handle_my_exception)
      .define_constructor(Constructor<Test>())
      .define_method("hello", &Test::hello)
      .define_method("error", &Test::error);
  }
\endcode

The handle_my_exception function need only rethrow the exception as a
Rice::Exception:

\code
  void handle_my_exception(MyException const & ex)
  {
    throw Exception(rb_eRuntimeError, "Goodnight, moon");
  }
\endcode

And what if we want to call Ruby code from C++?  These exceptions are
also converted:

\code
  Object o;
  o.call("some_function_that_raises", 42);

  protect(rb_raise, rb_eRuntimeError, "some exception msg");
\endcode

Internally whenever Rice catches a C++ or a Ruby exception, it converts
it to an Exception object.  This object will later be re-raised as a
Ruby exception when control is returned to the Ruby VM.

Rice uses a similar class called Jump_Tag to handle symbols thrown by
Ruby's throw/catch or other non-local jumps from inside the Ruby VM.


\subsection builtin Builtin types

You've seen this example:

\code
  Object object_id = obj.call("object_id");
  std::cout << object_id << std::endl;
\endcode

Rice mimics the Ruby class hierarchy as closely as it can given that C++
is statically typed.  In fact, the above code also works for Classes:

\code
  Class rb_cTest = define_class<Test>("Test");
  Object object_id = rb_cTest.call("object_id");
  std::cout << object_id << std::endl;
\endcode

Rice provides builtin wrappers for many builtin Ruby types, including:

\li Object
\li Module
\li Class
\li String
\li Array
\li Hash
\li Struct
\li Symbol
\li Exception

The Array and Hash types can even be iterated over the same way one
would iterate over an STL container:

\code
  Array a;
  a.push(to_ruby(42));
  a.push(to_ruby(43));
  a.push(to_ruby(44));
  Array::iterator it = a.begin();
  Array::iterator end = a.end();
  for(; it != end; ++it)
  {
    std::cout << *it << std::endl;
  }
\endcode

STL algorithms should also work as expected on Array and Hash containers.


\subsection inheritance Inheritance

Inheritance is a tricky problem to solve in extensions.  This is because
wrapper functions for base classes typically don't know how to accept
pointers to derived classes.  It is possible to write this logic, but
the code is nontrivial.

Forunately Rice handles this gracefully:

\code
  class Base
  {
  public:
    virtual void foo();
  };

  class Derived
    : public Base
  {
  };

  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Data_Type<Base> rb_cBase =
      define_class<Base>("Base")
      .define_method("foo", &Base::foo);
    Data_Type<Derived> rb_cDerived =
      define_class<Derived, Base>("Derived");
  }
\endcode

The second template parameter to define_class indicates that Derived
inherits from Base.

Rice does not yet support multiple inheritance, but it is believed that
this is possible through the use of mixins.


\subsection overloading Overloaded functions

If you try to create a member function pointer to an overloaded
function, you will get an error.  So how do we wrap classes that have
overloaded functions?

Consider a class that uses this idiom for accessors:

\code
  class Container
  {
    size_t capacity(); // Get the capacity
    void capacity(size_t cap); // Set the capacity
  };
\endcode

We can wrap this class by using typedefs:

\code
  extern "C"
  void Init_Container()
  {
    typedef size_t (Container::*get_capacity)();
    typedef void (Container::*set_capacity)(size_t);

    Data_Type<Container> rb_cContainer =
      define_class<Container>("Container")
      .define_method("capacity", get_capacity(&Container::capacity))
      .define_method("capacity=", set_capacity(&Container::capacity))
  }
\endcode

A future version of Rice may provide a simplified interface for this.


\subsection user_defined_conversions User-defined type conversions

Rice provides default conversions for many built-in types.  Sometimes,
however, the default conversion is not their right conversion.  For
example, consider a function:

\code
  void foo(char * x);
\endcode

Is x a pointer to a single character or a pointer to the first character
of a null-terminated string or a pointer to the first character of an
array of char?

Because the second case is the most common use case (a pointer to the
first character of a C string), Rice provides a default conversion that
treats a char * as a C string.  But suppose the above function takes a
pointer to a char instead?

If we write this:

\comment : -- this comment is to satisfy vim syntax highlighting --

\code
  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    define_global_function("foo", &foo);
  }
\endcode

It will likely have the wrong behavior.

To avoid this problem, it is necessary to write a wrapper function:

\code
  Object wrap_foo(Object o)
  {
    char c = from_ruby<char>(o);
    foo(&c);
    return to_ruby(c);
  }

  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    define_global_function("foo", &wrap_foo);
  }
\endcode

Note that the out parameter is returned from wrap_foo, as Ruby does not
have pass-by-variable-reference (it uses pass-by-object-reference).

Future versions of Rice will have a cleaner way of dealing with this.


\subsection default_arguments Default Arguments

Going back to our initial C++ class example, lets say that hello() now
take a few arguments for what to return, one which has a default value:

\code
  class Test
  {
  public:
    Test();
    std::string hello(std::string first, std::string second = "world");
  };
\endcode

As default parameter information is not available through templates,
it's necessary to define this in Rice explicitly using Rice::Arg:

\code
  #include "rice/Data_Type.hpp"
  #include "rice/Constructor.hpp"

  using namespace Rice;

  extern "C"
  void Init_Test()
  {
    Data_Type<Test> rb_cTest =
      define_class<Test>("Test")
      .define_constructor(Constructor<Test>())
      .define_method("hello",
         &Test::hello,
         (Arg("hello"), Arg("second") = "world")
      );
  }
\endcode

The syntax here is simply Arg(nameOfParameter)[ = defaultValue].  The name of the
parameter is not important (more for readability, and the future for when/if Ruby
gets named parameters), but the value set via operator= must match the type
of the given parameter.

These Rice::Arg objects must be in the correct order, and if there are more than
one of them they must be surrounded in parentheses, as above, or the compilation
will fail.

It may be required to explicitly cast the default argument values to their
appropriate types:

\code
  .define_method("hello",
     &Test::hello,
     (Arg("hello"), Arg("second") = (std::string)"world")
  );
\endcode

With this, Ruby will now know about the default arguments, and this wrapper
can be used as expected:

\code
  t = Test.new
  t.hello("hello")
  t.hello("goodnight", "moon")
\endcode

This will also work with Constructors:

\code
  .define_constructor(Constructor<SomeClass, int, int>(),
      ( Arg("arg1") = 1, Arg("otherArg") = 12 );
\endcode

\subsection director Director

As polymorphism is the most important tennant of Object Oriented Programming,
it's important that Rice supports polymorphic calls travelling between C++
and Ruby seemlessly. Super calls from Ruby subclasses back into C++ already work,
but enabling the other direction requires some extra work. While this isn't
something Rice can do on it's own, the Rice::Director class, coupled with 
Rice::Data_Type::define_director exposes this functionality cleanly.

Like SWIG_Director, Rice::Director is a class that is used to build a proxy class
to properly send execution up or down the object heiarchy for that class. Take
the following class:

\code
  class VirtualBase {
    public:
      VirtualBase();
      virtual int doWork();
      virtual int processWorker() = 0;
  };
\endcode

Due to the abstract nature of this class, it will not work at all with Rice
in it's current form. Any attempt to do so will cause a compilation error due to
this class not being constructable. Even without the pure virtual function, any
call to VirtualBase::doWork will stop at the C++ level and will not pass down into
any Ruby subclasses.

To properly wrap both of these methods, you'll need to build a proxy class
that subclasses Rice::Director along with a few methods:

\code
  #include "rice/Director.hpp"

  class VirtualBaseProxy : public VirtualBase, public Rice::Director {
    public:
      VirtualBaseProxy(Object self) : Rice::Director(self) { }

      virtual int doWork() {
        return from_ruby<int>( getSelf().call("do_work") );
      }

      int default_doWork() {
        return VirtualBase::doWork();
      }

      virtual int processWorker() {
        return from_ruby<int>( getSelf().call("process_worker") );
      }

      int default_processWorker() {
        raisePureVirtual();
      }
  };
\endcode

There is a lot going on here, so we'll go through each part.

\code
  class VirtualBaseProxy : public Virtualbase, public Rice::Director {
\endcode

First, the class needs to subclass both the virtual class and Rice::Director class.

\code
    public:
      VirtualBaseProxy(Object self) : Rice::Director(self) { }
\endcode

For Rice::Director to work its magic, every instance of this class needs to
have a handle to the Ruby instance of this class as well. The constructor
must take a Rice::Object as the first argument, then any other arguments follow
and should be passed back to the superclass as needed. The code here is the
minimum required for a Rice::Director proxy.

\code
      virtual int doWork() {
        return from_ruby<int>( getSelf().call("do_work") );
      }

      int default_doWork() {
        return VirtualBase::doWork();
      }
\endcode

The two methods seen here directly correspond to the two code directions this class
opens up. The virtual method is this class's hook into C++'s polymorphism. Any calls
that need to be forwarded into Ruby are done as specified here: get the Ruby object
for the instance of this class, call Rice::Object::call, and if necessary convert
the return value from Ruby back into C++ types.

The default_doWork method will be used as Rice's hookup of calling back up the 
heirarchy (wrapping is below). This method needs to do one of two things: call
up the class heirarchy, as seen here, or call raisePureVirtual() as seen in the
processWorker example:

\code
      int default_processWorker() {
        raisePureVirtual();
      }
\endcode

The method raisePureVirtual() exists to allow wrapping a pure virtual method into Ruby
but making sure any users of this extension are informed quickly that there's nothing
in the C++ to call for the given method.

Once the proxy class is built, it's time to wrap it into Ruby:

\code
extern "C"
void Init_virtual() {
  define_class<VirtualBase>("VirtualBase")
    .define_director<VirtualBaseProxy>()
    .define_constructor(Constructor<VirtualBaseProxy, Rice::Object>())
    .define_method("do_work", &VirtualBaseProxy::default_doWork)
    .define_method("process_worker", &VirtualBaseProxy::default_processWorker);
}
\endcode

The wrapping is the same as is described earlier in this document. Expose the class
VirtualBase, and register VirtualBaseProxy as a director proxy of VirtualBase with
Rice::Data_Type::define_director, then define methods pointing to the proxy object as necessary.

You must use the Rice::Director proxy class in the Constructor line, this allows proper
object construction / destruction of the types in question.

\subsection implicit_cast Implicit Casting

There are times when a library exposes classes that while unrelated are
built to be interchangeable across the library. One example of this,
taken from the Open Source 3d rendering engine <a
href="http://www.ogre3d.org/">OGRE</a>, are the Degree and Radian classes.
When a given method takes a Radian, you're free to pass in a Degree, and vice versa. 

Rice cannot automatically figure out if this kind of functionality is
possible in a given library but it does have a simple API for defining
these relationships: Rice::define_implicit_cast<From, To>().

\code
class Degree { ... };
class Radian { ... };

extern "C"
void Init_implicit() {
  define_class<Degree>()
    ...;
  define_class<Radian>()
    ...;

  define_implicit_cast<Degree, Radian>();
  define_implicit_cast<Radian, Degree>();
}
\endcode

This support is still being fleshed out and has a few requirements for
proper use:

\li The two types must be bound in Rice before defining the cast.
\li The classes must have constructors that take the other type.
\li This feature cannot be used with fundamental types yet.

To see a full example of this feature, please check out
test/test_Data_Type.cpp.

\section motivation Motivation

There are a number of common problems when writing C or C++ extensions
for Ruby:

\li Type safety.  It is easy to mix-up integral types such as ID and
VALUE.  Some of the functions in the Ruby API are not consistent with
which types they take (e.g. rb_const_defined takes an ID and
rb_mod_remove_const takes a Symbol).

\li DRY principle.  Specifying the number of arguments that each wrapped
function takes is easy to get wrong.  Adding a new argument to the
function means that the number of arguments passed to rb_define_method
must also be updated.

\li Type conversion.  There are many different functions to convert data
to and from ruby types.  Many of them have different semantics or
different forms.  For example, to convert a string, one might use the
StringValue macro, but to convert a fixnum, one might use FIX2INT.
Unwrapping previously wrapped C data uses yet another form.

\li Exception safety.  It is imperative that C++ exceptions never make
their way into C code, and it is also imperative that a Ruby exception
never escape while there are objects on the stack with nontrivial
destructors.  Rules for when it is okay to use which exceptions are
difficult to get right, especially as code is maintained through time.

\li Thread safety.  Because the Ruby interpreter is not threads-safe,
the Ruby interpreter must not be run from more than one thread.
Because of tricks the GC and scheduler play with the C stack, it's not
enough to ensure that only one thread runs the interpreter at any
given time; once the interpreter has been run from one thread, it must
only ever be run from that thread in the future.  Additionally,
because Ruby copies the stack when it switches threads, C++ code must
be careful not to access objects in one Ruby thread that were created
on the stack in another Ruby thread.

\li C-based API.  The Ruby API is not always convenient for accessing
Ruby data structurs such as Hash and Array, especially when writing C++
code, as the interface for these containers is not consistent with
standard containers.

\li Calling convention.  Function pointers passed into the Ruby API must
follow the C calling convention.  This means that it is not possible to
pass a pointer to a template function or static member function (that
is, it will work on some platforms, but isn't portable).

\li Inheritance.  When wrapping C++ objects, it is easy to store a
pointer to a derived class, but then methods in the base class must have
knowledge of the derived class in order to unwrap the object.  It is
possible to always store a pointer to the base class and then
dynamic_cast the pointer to the derived type when necessary, but this
can be slow and cumbersome, and it isn't likely to work with multiple
inheritance.  A system that properly handles inheritance for all corner
cases is nontrivial.

\li Multiple inheritance.  C++ supports true multiple inheritance, but
the Ruby object model uses single inheritance with mixins.  When
wrapping a library whose public interface uses multiple inheritance,
care must be taken in constructing the mapping.

\li GC safety.  All live Ruby objects must be marked during the garbage
collector's mark phase, otherwise they will be prematurely destroyed.
The general rule is that object references stored on the heap should be
either registered with rb_gc_register_address or marked by a data
object's mark function; object references stored on the stack will be
automatically marked, provided the Ruby interpreter was properly
initialized at startup.

\li Callbacks.  C implements callbacks via function pointers, while ruby
typically implements callbacks via procs.  Writing an adapter function
to call the proc is not difficult, but there is much opportunity for
error (particularly with exception-safety).

\li Data serialization.  By default data objects defined at the C layer
are not marshalable.  The user must explicitly define functions to
marshal the data member-by-member.

Rice addresses these issues in many ways:

\li Type safety.  Rice provides encapsulation for all builtin types,
such as Object, Identifier, Class, Module, and String.  It
automatically checks the dynamic type of an object before constructing
an instance of a wrapper.

\li DRY principle.  Rice uses introspection through the use of templates
and function overloading to automatically determine the number and types
of arguments to functions.  Default arguments must still be handled
explicitly, however.

\li Type conversions.  Rice provides cast-style to_ruby<> and
from_ruby<> template functions to simplify explicit type conversions.
Automatic type conversions for parameters and return values are
generated for all wrapped functions.

\li Exception safety.  Rice automatically converts common exceptions and
provides a mechanism for converting user-defined exception types.  Rice
also provides convenience functions for converting exceptions when
calling back into ruby code.

\li Thread safety.  Rice provides no mechanisms for dealing with thread
safety.  Many common thread safety issues should be alleviated by YARV,
which supports POSIX threads.

\li C++-based API.  Rice provides an object-oriented C++-style API to
most common functions in the Ruby C API.

\li Calling convention.  Rice automatically uses C calling convention
for all function pointers passed into the Ruby API.

\li Inheritance.  Rice provides automatic conversion to the base class
type when a wrapped member function is called on the base class.

\li Multiple inheritance.  Rice provides no mechanism for multiple
inheritance.  Multiple inheritance can be simulated via mixins, though
this is not yet as easy as it could be.

\li GC safety.  Rice provides a handful of convenience classes for
interacting with the garbage collector.  There are still basic rules
which must be followed to ensure that objects get properly destroyed.

\li Callbacks.  Rice provides a handful of convenience classes for
dealing with callbacks.

\li Data serialization.  Rice provides no mechanism for data
serialization, but it is likely this may be added in a future release.


\section what_not What Rice is Not

There are a number projects which server similar functions to Rice.  Two
such popular projects are SWIG and Boost.Python.  Rice has some
distinct features which set it apart from both of these projects.

Rice is not trying to replace SWIG.  Rice is not a generic wrapper
interface generator.  Rice is a C++ library for interfacing with the
Ruby C API.  This provides a very natural way for C++ programmers to
wrap their C++ code, without having to learn a new domain-specific
language.  However, there is no reason why SWIG and Rice could not work
together; a SWIG module could be written to generate Rice code.  Such a
module would combine the portability of SWIG with the maintainability of
Rice (I have written extensions using both, and I have found Rice
extensions to be more maintainable when the interface is constantly
changing.  Your mileage may vary).

Rice is also not trying to simply be a Ruby version of Boost.Python.
Rice does use some of the same template tricks that Boost.Python uses,
however there are some important distinctions.  First of all,
Boost.Python attempts to create a declarative DSL in C++ using
templates.  Rice is a wrapper around the Ruby C API and attempts to make
its interface look like an OO version of the API; this means that class
declarations look procedural rather than declarative.  Secondly, the
Ruby object model is different from the python object model.  This is
reflected in the interface to Rice; it mimics the Ruby object model at
the C++ level.  Thirdly, Rice uses Ruby as a code generator; I find this
to be much more readable than using the Boost preprocessor library.


\section history History

Rice originated as a project to interface with C++-based trading
software at Automated Trading Desk in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
The Ruby bindings for Swig were at the time less mature than they are
today, and did not suit the needs of the project.

Excruby was written not as a wrapper for the Ruby API, but rather as a
set of helper functions and classes for interfacing with the Ruby
interpreter in an exception-safe manner.  Over the course of five years,
the project grew into wrappers for pieces of the API, but the original
helper functions remained as part of the public interface.

This created confusion for the users of the library, because there were
multiple ways of accomplishing most tasks -- directly through the C API,
through a low-level wrapper around the C API, and through a high-level
abstraction of the lower-level interfaces.

Rice was then born in an attempt to clean up the interface.  Rice keeps
the lower-level wrappers, but as an implementation detail; the public
interface is truly a high-level abstraction around the Ruby C API.


\section gc The GC

\li Objects are not automatically registered with the garbage collector.

\li If an Object is on the stack, it does not need to be registered with
the garbage collector.

\li If an Object is allocated on the heap or if it is a member of an
object that might be allocated on the heap, use an
Rice::Address_Registration_Guard to register the object with the garbage
collector.

\li If a reference counted object is being wrapped, or if another type
of smart pointer is wrapped, ensure that only one mechanism is used to
destroy the object.  In general, the smart pointer manages the
allocation of the object, and Ruby should hold only a reference to the
smart pointer.  When the garbage collector determines that it is time to
clean up the object, the smart pointer will be destroyed, decrementing
the reference count; when the reference count drops to 0, underlying
object will be destroyed.


\section embedding Embedding

You can embed the Ruby interpter in your application by using the VM
class:

\code
  int main(int argc, char * argv[])
  {
    Rice::VM vm(argc, argv);
    vm.run()
  }
\endcode

If the VM is not initialized from main() -- from a callback, for example
-- then you may need to initialize the stack whenever you use Rice or
the Ruby API:

\code
  std::auto_ptr<Rice::VM> vm;
  Rice::Object obj;

  void some_application_extension_init()
  {
    vm.reset(new Rice::VM("some_application"));
  }

  void some_application_extension_callback()
  {
    // Need to initialize the stack here, because we don't know if
    // we are at the same stack depth as when the VM was initialized
    vm->init_stack();

    // Now do some work...
    obj->call("some_callback_function")
  }
\endcode

Be aware that initializing the Ruby VM can cause a call to exit() if
certain command-line options are specified.  This has two implications:

  \li an application that constructs a Ruby VM may terminate
  unexpectedly if the options passed to the interpreter are not tightly
  controlled (a security issue), and

  \li an application that constructs a Ruby VM should not have any
  objects with nontrivial destructors on the stack when the VM is
  created, otherwise those objects might not get correctly destructed.

vim:ft=cpp:tw=72:ts=2:sw=2:fo=cqrtn:noci:si
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