KidsRuby is a Ruby programming environment meant for kids to learn and have fun!
JavaScript Ruby
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KidsRuby ( is a Ruby programming environment meant for kids. It is heavily influenced by Hackety Hack (

In fact you can run many of the same code samples from Hackety Hack in KidsRuby. For example:

color = ask("what is your favorite color")
if color == "blue"
  alert("you picked blue")

You can also use the Turtle, just like Hackety-Hack does

Turtle.start do
  background yellow
  pencolor brown
  pensize 2
  goto 30, 200
  setheading 180
  1000.times do
    forward 20
    turnleft rand(10)
    backward 10

Design Goals

  • Simple single file editor
  • You can run the current contents of the editor
  • The output appears next to the editor
  • It runs a normal Ruby 1.9.2 on the code. With normal gems etc.

Implementation choices

  • Webkit-based editor - currently using CodeMirror
  • QtRuby app - hosts webkit and provide http server to communicate with running Ruby environment
  • Minitest/Minispec for testing. Yes, code must be tested
  • Tutorial content is easy to create just drop HTML files on disk locally to the KidsRuby editor.
  • Using a modified version of the JS library Turtlewax for the Turtle implementation

How to Run KidsRuby:

ruby main.rb

Getting setup for development on Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install libqt4-dev
bundle install

Getting setup for development on a Mac using Homebrew

I used the qtbindings gem: Since I also run homebrew, I discovered that the homebrew install for Qt4 needed a little symlinking before I could run the gem install for qtbindings as described here:

However, since Qt is now at a higher version, you need to use the following:

brew install qt
for DIR in /usr/local/Cellar/qt/*/lib/*.framework; do ln -s $DIR/Headers ${DIR%%/lib/*}/include/$(basename $DIR .framework); done
brew install cmake
bundle install

If you have already installed KidsRuby using the OSX installer, you will need to uninstall that Qt package before trying to install the qtbindings gem, or it will not build/install as described here

The solution is to run this before attempting to install the qtbindings gem:

sudo /Developer/Tools/

Getting setup on a Mac using Ports

Someone please describe this procedure here.

Getting setup on Windows

Install git standalone
Install Ruby 1.9.2 standalone
bundle install


  • create hackety-hack compatible class with UI dialogs for ask/alert
  • get syntax highlighting correct for Ruby code
  • create hackety-hack compatible class for Turtle graphics
  • tabbed divs for output/turtle/help
  • layout for local html pages with tutorials
  • implement Turtle width and height methods
  • correct top/bottom orientation for Turtle relative to user
  • adjust proportions of editor to sidebar for more visible space for tutorial section
  • home to main index for help & browser forward/back buttons for help section
  • split up HH help "pages" to go forward/back like the original tutorial
  • make the canvas bigger for the Turtle
  • add Gosu libs/classes to KidsRuby OS to make it easy to write games right away
  • How to use KidsRuby
  • editor save/open
  • make the Run button WAY WAY bigger
  • capture keystrokes within main Qt app and pipe to stdin when executing ruby process so we can support gets
  • replace DBus communications with http based protocol which allows better multi-platform support and fewer installation dependancies
  • fix background color
  • A couple of funny things with the formatting of gets
  • need to display complete debug info on errors again
  • make the turtle canvas keep a correct aspect ratio when resized



  • 0.8 - Switch to Ace from CodeMirror
  • 0.9 - Internationalization
  • 1.0 - Release!


  • correct pencolor so it works when switching color while drawing


  • switch editor colors to white background for better presentation display. we already have inverse css file, just need a way to switch to it, and back
  • paste into editor (copy already works)


  • update ruby4kids to include their latest lessons
  • add more good stuff!


  • make it easy to run pie (see what I did there?)
  • create Shoes compatible classes (slippers?) to run Shoes example code too