Shoes 4 : the next version of Shoes
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Shoes 4 Linux Build StatusWindows Build statusCode ClimateTest CoverageDependency Status

Shoes 4 : the next version of Shoes

About Shoes

Shoes is a little DSL for cross-platform (Mac, Windows, and Linux) GUI programming. It feels like real Ruby, rather than just another C++ library wrapper. For some samples, the manual, and a free book, check out the Shoes website.

Basic Usage

Want to see what Shoes looks like? Well, here you go! Given the script: width: 300, height: 200 do

  stack do
    para "Welcome to the world of Shoes!"
    button "Click me" do alert "Nice click!" end
    image "",
          margin_top: 20, margin_left: 10

This results in the following application:

shoes 4 screenshot Linux

The look and feel will differ for your operating system, as Shoes 4 uses native widgets.

Some history about Shoes

Way way back in the day, there was a guy named _why. He created a project known as Hackety Hack to teach programming to everyone. In order to reach all corners of the earth, _why decided to make Hackety Hack work on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. This was a lot of work, and so _why decided to share his toolkit with the world. Thus, Shoes was born.

Preview Version

Hi there, thanks for checking by! Shoes 4 is in the preview stage. It currently supports almost all of the shoes DSL, but there are still some unsupported spots and known issues. We are now regularly releasing updated preview versions to rubygems, for easy installation. If you're not too adventurous just yet you can still use the old shoes!

Installing Shoes 4

There are two ways to get your hands on Shoes 4 - the preview gem release and installing it straight from github. For both you need a current JRuby installation.

We recommend using JRuby 9.X+, with the majority of our testing currently against 9.1. JRuby 1.7.x may work, but has been untested since 4.0.0.pre6.

Get a JDK and JRuby

So your first step is to install a JDK (shoes also works with OpenJDK) and JRuby. Make sure to grab the appropriate JRuby version for your operating system. On Linux/Mac you can also use ruby installation tools to install JRuby. For instance rvm:

$ rvm install jruby

JDK version note: JRuby version 9 requires a JDK version of 7 and up. Also within the JDK major version make sure to have the latest updates installed, we had cases where newer versions resolved bugs.

SWT requirement: Be aware that Shoes 4 builds on SWT for its default backend. That is usually no concern (other than the need for JRuby/JDK, described above) as you do not have to install SWT yourself. However, that means we have the same basic system requirements SWT does. For Linux that means you need GTK+ >= 2.10 or >= 3.0 if you like. Moreover, as of now there is no ARM support (as the Raspberry Pi would need).

Installing Shoes 4 as a gem

*nix (Mac OSX/Linux)

$ gem install shoes --pre


C:\tmp> jruby -S gem install shoes --pre

Installing Shoes 4 from github

If you want to be on the bleeding edge or want to contribute code you need to install it straight from the github repository.

*nix (Mac OSX/Linux)

  1. Fork the repository and clone your fork, or

    $ git clone git://
  2. Set up your local environment

    $ cd shoes4
    $ gem install bundler && bundle install

    Note: If you got rvm, rbenv or something like that installed it might complain that you should use jruby version xx. That's because we keep our .ruby-version files up to date. You should be able to run it with a JRuby version >= We recommend up to date versions though.

  3. You're ready to go!


  1. Fork the repository and clone your fork, or

    C:\tmp> git clone git://
  2. Set up your local environment

    C:\tmp>cd shoes4
    C:\tmp\shoes4>jruby -S gem install bundler
    C:\tmp\shoes4>jruby -S bundle install
  3. You're ready to go!

Running a Shoes App

Shoes 4 comes with a command-line app runner. Just pass it the filename of your Shoes app.

$ bin/shoes samples/simple_sound.rb

Note: For Windows, C:\tmp\shoes4>bin\shoes samples\simple_sound.rb If you installed Shoes 4 as a gem, just do C:\tmp> shoes path\to\file.rb

There is also a simple ruby starter script when using the SWT backend which you may use as follows:

$ bin/shoes-swt samples/simple_sound.rb

This does not work yet on Mac as JRuby (the JVM) needs some additional parameters. Here you can just do the following (which basically is what bin/shoes does):

$ jruby -J-XstartOnFirstThread bin/shoes-swt samples/simple_sound.rb

Another alternative yet is to put require 'shoes' at the top of your applications, then you can simply do

$ jruby path/to/file.rb

On OS X you still need to supply the additional parameters to JRuby

$ jruby -J-XstartOnFirstThread path/to/file.rb

Want to see what shoes can do?

You can run rake samples and random samples we believe are working will be run until you quit with Ctr + C. Some of them are really simple, while others are more complex or even games! If you notice any issue with those samples please let us know!

By setting the SHOES_USE_INSTALLED environment variable to true, you can also use your installed version of shoes (shoes command) to run the samples instead of the local bin/shoes.

Packaging a Shoes App

Packaging is just a baby, so be gentle.

In order to package an app, you need to have the Shoes gem installed in your environment. If you didn't do the gem installation you can always generate a gem and install it from the current source:

$ rake install:all

Now, you can package an app. But first, look here:

  • The packager will include everything in the directory of your shoes script and below, unless you tell it not to.
  • The packager will probably not work properly if it detects a .gemspec or a Gemfile. It uses Warbler, which always looks for those files. If you run the specs, you may notice some warnings like this:

warning: Bundler `path' components are not currently supported. The `shoes-4.0.0.pre1' component was not bundled. Your application may fail to boot!

That's Warbler talking. Actually, we sneak the Shoes gem in anyway, but don't tell.

Okay, now for real. The simplest thing is to put your script in a directory by itself and then:

$ bin/shoes -p swt:app path/to/directory-of/your-shoes-app.rb

This will produce a Mac app, which you can then find at path/to/directory-of/pkg/Shoes

You can also package a shoes app up as a jar through:

$ bin/shoes -p swt:jar path/to/directory-of/your-shoes-app.rb

You can find the jar in the same directory as above, i.e. path/to/directory-of/pkg/your-shoes-app.jar

If you want more control (like you want to name your app something besides "Shoes App", or you don't want to include all of those files we talked about before), make an app.yaml file. See the example for more details.

Note: If you use an app.yaml, you will have to customize or comment out each option. The example is just an example ;)

When you have an app.yaml file right next to your script, you have three options:

$ bin/shoes -p swt:app path/to/directory-of/your-shoes-app.rb
$ bin/shoes -p swt:app path/to/directory-of/app.yaml
$ bin/shoes -p swt:app path/to/directory-of

The packager will find your instructions using any of those commands. Again, you'll find your app in the pkg directory inside your project's directory. Find out more at bin/shoes --help.

Oh, and you can also just run your Shoes apps with bin/shoes.

Want to contribute?

That's awesome, thank you!

You can go ahead an try to fix one of our issues. We have introduced a new tag 'Newcomer Friendly' for issues we believe are suitable to get started with shoes contributing. These issues either are relatively easy to accomplish or don't depend on a lot of other shoes code (e.g. completely new features) so that it's easier to get started. Please feel free to tackle any issue - we will help you if needed. The tag is just a suggestion! =)

Also there is a list of samples that already work at samples/README, along with all the other samples. You can try to get a new sample to run. In order to do so you can run rake non_samples to run a random sample we think does not work. If you just want to list the non working samples you can also run rake list_non_samples.

With all you do, please make sure to write specs as Shoes 4 is developed TDD-style (see the Running Specs section below). So make sure that you don't break any tests :-)

If you feel unsure about testing or your implementation just open an issue or a pull request. Pull requests don't need to be done - they are great discussion starters! We're happy to help you get your contribution ready to be merged in order to help build Shoes 4!

In fact we greatly appreciate early pull requests to review code and help you find your way around Shoes 4! =)

If you have questions, also feel free to drop by on the #shoes channel on FreeNode irc. People might not respond instantly, but after some time someone will respond :-)

It sometimes is also a good way to refactor some code or write some specs in order to get familiar with a project. If you want to try this approach you can have a look at our Code Climate to find candidates for refactoring or after running the specs locally take a peak into the coverage directory and open index.html - it shows you our current coverage data. See something that isn't covered and maybe you can write a spec for it?

Refer to the following section for information on how to run the specs, that were mentioned before :-)

Running Specs

Shoes 4 is developed in a TDD style using RSpec. You should be writing and running the specs :)

The simplest way to do this is with rake tasks.

$ rake spec

(Try rake --tasks for a full list)

If you want more details on other modes to run specs in, philosophy on how and what to tests, check out the Testing Shoes entry in the wiki.

Code of Conduct

Way way back in the day, there was a guy named _why. He created a project known as Hackety Hack to teach programming to everyone. In order to reach all corners of the earth, _why decided to make Hackety Hack work on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. This was a lot of work, and so _why decided to share his toolkit with the world. Thus, Shoes was born.

Shoes was born to teach programming to everyone, in all corners of the earth. It's not cool to make new programmers or programmers with bad English feel bad because they don't write Ruby / English very well. And clearly any other anti-social comments directed at someone's religion, ethnicity, race, gender identity, or any of that personal stuff won't be tolerated here in the land of chunky-bacon! If community members feel like your comments are out of line in any project space (code, issues, chat rooms, mailing lists), they'll kindly let you know how to improve per our code of conduct.

The bottom-line is: Have Fun with Shoes!

Shoes Around the Web

If you want to keep up to date with what's going on with Shoes, you can find us in various places:


Want to get in touch with the shoes community? That's great! You can get in touch here:

However we try to keep most discussions about the development in this repository/its issues so everyone can see them and look them up.