Step By Step of Creating a Ruby Gem

Step By Step of Creating a Ruby Gem

I’m going to create a ruby gem to handle the accents in a string. The gem will replace all the accents to it’s corresponding ascii character. And will achieve this by extending the class String to provide an instance method #accent_to_ascii.

For example:

require 'accent_to_ascii'
"Thìs ìs ā strìng wïth āccēnts".accent_to_ascii
#=> "This is a string with accents"

The initialtive is that those non-ascii codes in the string sometime is not compatible with systems, we need clear them up. But it’s too crude to just remove them with something like gsub(/[^\x20-\x7e]/, ''). And there are a lot of names are with accents in American. So replace those accents with the corresponding ascii characters is a better solution. ( Will make them happy 🙂 )

So in this article will create a gem accent_to_ascii to do this specific task.

Let’s get started:

Steps (story in short)

  1. Create the files for the gem. It’s as simple as just running: bundle gem accent_to_ascii. This will create the gem files from templates into directory ./accent_to_ascii. I prefer the rspec option for testing.
  2. Develop the gem functionality.
    1. Update the gemspec file accent_to_ascii.gemspec with information of the gem.
    2. Write tests in the spec/accent_to_ascii_spec.rb (Test first right?)
    3. Write the core methods in the lib/accent_to_ascii.rb to make tests green
  3. Publish it into, if you already have rubygems account, this is simple as just run rake release

Now let’s diving into the details of the above steps:

1. Gem Creation

Create gem is as simple as just a line of command:

$ bundle gem accent_to_ascii

By running this command, the bundler will create the gem in the directory accent_to_ascii as:

$ tree accent_to_ascii
├── Gemfile
├── LICENSE.txt
├── Rakefile
├── accent_to_ascii.gemspec
├── bin
│   ├── console
│   └── setup
├── lib
│   ├── accent_to_ascii
│   │   └── version.rb
│   └── accent_to_ascii.rb
├── pkg
│   └── accent_to_ascii-0.1.0.gem
└── spec
    ├── accent_to_ascii_spec.rb
    └── spec_helper.rb


The accent_to_ascii.gemspec is the description file of this gem, we can modify it first.


The lib/accent_to_ascii/version.rb defined the version of the gem.

module AccentToAscii
  VERSION = "0.1.0"

The version is defined with a Major.Minor.Patch style:

  • The Major version is for updates will break the backward compatibility;
  • The Minor version is for updates with backward compatibility;
  • The Patch version is for bug fixes with backward compatibility.


This is the test file, we modify this file with the expected behaviors of the gem and make it green by developing the code.


This is the main code file.

2.1 Update the gemspec file

Just provide the informations in the TODO section, and I make it as:

# coding: utf-8
lib = File.expand_path('../lib', __FILE__)
$LOAD_PATH.unshift(lib) unless $LOAD_PATH.include?(lib)
require 'accent_to_ascii/version' do |spec|          = "accent_to_ascii"
  spec.version       = AccentToAscii::VERSION
  spec.authors       = ["uniEagle"]         = [""]

  spec.summary       = %q{Rubygem to replace accents in string into the corresponding ascii chars}
  spec.description   = %q{Replace the non ascii accents in a string}
  spec.homepage      = ""
  spec.license       = "MIT"

  spec.files         = `git ls-files -z`.split("\x0").reject do |f|
  spec.bindir        = "exe"
  spec.executables   = spec.files.grep(%r{^exe/}) { |f| File.basename(f) }
  spec.require_paths = ["lib"]

  spec.add_development_dependency "bundler", "~> 1.13"
  spec.add_development_dependency "rake", "~> 10.0"
  spec.add_development_dependency "rspec", "~> 3.0"

2.2 Write the tests

The in the test file /spec/accent_to_ascii_spec.rb, added several tests to reflect the expected behavior of this gem:

require "spec_helper"

describe AccentToAscii do
  it "has a version number" do
    expect(AccentToAscii::VERSION).not_to be nil

  it { expect("São Paulo".accent_to_ascii).to eq "Sao Paulo" }
  it { expect("Tẽst".accent_to_ascii).to eq "Test" }

  it "does not change original string" do
    str = "São Paulo"
    expect(str.accent_to_ascii).to eq "Sao Paulo"
    expect(str).to eq "São Paulo"

  context "hungarian accents" do
    specify { expect("fejlődő".accent_to_ascii).to eq "fejlodo" }
    specify { expect("FEJLŐDŐ".accent_to_ascii).to eq "FEJLODO" }
    specify { expect("fű".accent_to_ascii).to eq "fu" }
    specify { expect("FŰ".accent_to_ascii).to eq "FU" }

  context "accent_to_ascii!" do
    let(:str) { "São Paulo" }

    it "changes original string" do
      expect(str.accent_to_ascii!).to eq "Sao Paulo"
      expect(str).to eq "Sao Paulo"

And of course, if you run rake, almost all the tests will fail:

$ rake
... some test errors ...
Finished in 0.0024 seconds
9 examples, 8 failures

2.3 Write some real code and make the tests green

The file /lib/accent_to_ascii.rb is the target file. I just made it as the following:

require "accent_to_ascii/version"

module AccentToAscii
    'E' => [200,201,202,203],
    'e' => [232,233,234,235,7869],
    'A' => [192,193,194,195,196,197],
    'a' => [224,225,226,227,228,229,230],
    'C' => [199],
    'c' => [231],
    'O' => [210,211,212,213,214,216,336],
    'o' => [242,243,244,245,246,248,337],
    'I' => [204,205,206,207],
    'i' => [236,237,238,239],
    'U' => [217,218,219,220,368],
    'u' => [249,250,251,252,369],
    'N' => [209],
    'n' => [241],
    'Y' => [221],
    'y' => [253,255],
    'AE' => [306],
    'ae' => [346],
    'OE' => [188],
    'oe' => [189]

  def self.accent_to_ascii(string)
    string.tap do |s|
      ACCENTS_MAPPING.each { |letter, accents| replace(s, letter, accents) }


  def self.replace(string, letter, accents)
    packed = accents.pack('U*')
    regex ="[#{packed}]", nil)
    string.gsub!(regex, letter)


class String
  def accent_to_ascii(string =

  def accent_to_ascii!

Special thanks to the Github project accentless, reused the ACCENTS_MAPPING in that project.

Then the tests are green now:

$ rake
  has a version number
  should eq "Sao Paulo"
  should eq "Test"
  does not change original string
  hungarian accents
    should eq "fejlodo"
    should eq "FEJLODO"
    should eq "fu"
    should eq "FU"
    changes original string

Finished in 0.00283 seconds
9 examples, 0 failures

3. Package and Publish

If you already have rubygems account registered and configured well, it’s just as simple as a single command:

$ rake release

Or, just sign up in the, then run the following command:

$ gem push pkg/accent_to_ascii-0.1.0.gem

The first time run this command will ask you input your account information for

And for the following up changes, just update the version and run rake release.


[Engineering Lunch Series] Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your First Ruby Gem

Official Guide of Publish Gems onto

Formatting DateTime in Rails

  • There are some useful params with Time#to_s
[14] pry(main)> time = u.created_at
=> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:21:01 UTC +00:00
[15] pry(main)> time.to_s(:long)
=> "November 13, 2014 14:21"
[16] pry(main)> time.to_s(:short)
=> "13 Nov 14:21"
[17] pry(main)> time.to_s(:default)
=> "2014-11-13 14:21:01 UTC"
[18] pry(main)> time.to_s(:db) #this will put it into the UTC time zone
=> "2014-11-13 14:21:01"
[19] pry(main)> time.to_s(:number)
=> "20141113142101"
[20] pry(main)> time.to_s(:long_ordinal)
=> "November 13th, 2014 14:21"
[21] pry(main)> time.to_s(:rfc822)
=> "Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:21:01 +0000"
> time.utc.strftime('%FT%TZ')
=> "2016-03-18T18:33:09Z"
  • And for custom formatting, there is a very good post for it:

[Solved] Install Nokogiri on Yosemite with Ruby 2.1.3

Updated to Yosemite and got the following problem while run bundle install with ruby 2.1.3:

An error occurred while installing nokogiri (1.6.1), and Bundler cannot continue.
Make sure that `gem install nokogiri -v '1.6.1'` succeeds before bundling.

The solution is:

gem install nokogiri -v '1.6.1' -- --use-system-libraries=true --with-xml2-include=/Applications/
Fetching: nokogiri-1.6.1.gem (100%)
Building native extensions with: '--use-system-libraries=true --with-xml2-include=/Applications/'
This could take a while...
Successfully installed nokogiri-1.6.1
Parsing documentation for nokogiri-1.6.1
Installing ri documentation for nokogiri-1.6.1
Done installing documentation for nokogiri after 3 seconds
1 gem installed

Time Zone in Rails

  • Get All Time Zones

    ActiveSupport::TimeZone.all.each{|tz| puts "#{tz.formatted_offset}, #{}"};nil
    -11:00, American Samoa
    -11:00, International Date Line West
    -11:00, Midway Island
    -10:00, Hawaii
    -09:00, Alaska
    -08:00, Pacific Time (US & Canada)
    ... ignore the remaining ...

    To list all the built in time zones with Rails

  • Get Specific Time Zone
    Use'Eastern Time (US & Canada)')

    To get the instance of a time zone with the name listed within the above output

  • Custom Time Zone
    When u know the offset, you can do this via

    ActiveSupport::TimeZone[5.hours + 30.minutes]
    => (GMT+05:30) Chennai

    But if the time zone u specified is not supported, it will return nil.

  • Parsing Time with Time Zone
    When u got the time zone using above methods, `time_zone` for example, using

    pry(main)> time_zone.parse('2014-12-30 17:40')
    => Tue, 30 Dec 2014 17:40:00 IST +05:30

    To parse a string like time.

  • Convert Time Zone


    is the time we want to handle,


    is the target time zone we want to conver


    For example:

    pry(main)> time =
    => Tue, 30 Dec 2014 09:48:06 UTC +00:00
    pry(main)> time.hour
    => 9
    pry(main)> target_time_zone = ActiveSupport::TimeZone[8.hours]
    => (GMT+08:00) Beijing
    pry(main)> converted_time = time.in_time_zone(target_time_zone)
    => Tue, 30 Dec 2014 17:48:06 CST +08:00
    pry(main)> converted_time.hour
    => 17

    For the UTC time zone, the following code:


    is a quick method for converting time into TimeZone ‘UTC’

  • Daylight saving time


    to check if a time is with daylight saving

Using VCR with WebMock in Rails Rspec Tests

If the application need interaction with another web service, it’s convenience to using VCR with WebMock to test the application, rather than doing the request to another web service every time.


Modify Gemfile

group :test do
  gem 'webmock'
  gem 'vcr'

and don’t forget to run

bundle install

Config VCR

The following code can be placed in the spec_helper.rb

VCR.configure do |c|
  c.allow_http_connections_when_no_cassette = true
  c.cassette_library_dir = 'spec/cassettes' #this specified the directory for placing the record files
  c.hook_into :webmock
  c.default_cassette_options = {
    :record => :once,
    :erb => true,
    :match_requests_on => [:method, :uri, :host, :path, :headers]

Using VCR

Then you can using VCR when write the rspec test like:

describe 'Some api call tests', :vcr => true do
#write normal api call tests here


Sometimes we need to re-record the cassettes, because maybe the request params changed in our app or the response is updated from third-party server.

It’s very easy to do that, just modify your VCR.config block, set record: all instead of :once.

:record => :all

and run your rspec tests related to that cassettes, then the cassettes files will be updated.

And you can specify the matchers per test:

describe 'Something', :vcr => {match_requests_on:[:method, :uri]} do
  # Some tests

The following method can tell whether vcr is recording, it’s very useful in some scenarios:


[Repost] Here Document in Ruby

This is repost from , good post!


Here Document(or HereDoc) is a way to declare String literal in Ruby programming language:

some_text = <<END_OF_STRING
 You can write any text here for your document that's why such
 statement is called - HereDoc

That’s it! Now some_text variable points to the string object containing the text going between END_OF_STRING
As you may know HereDoc isn’t a unique Ruby feature, rather it’s a common construct(with some distinctions) for scripting languages “brewed” in Unix environment.

The terminator

By Ruby convention a variable starting with capital letter is a constant. But that’s not a case for the END_OF_STRING from previous example, because terminator is just a string which parser treats as the end of HereDoc.
Well if a terminator is a string then can i use arbitrary(say put spaces within) string as the terminator like end of string? The answer is – yes you can!
<<heredoc is interpreted same as <<"heredoc" (please note double quotes around latter heredoc).
But explicit notation(with quotes) is a bit more powerful.

String interpolation

By explicitly enclosing terminator with quotes you may have:

a_text = <<"Ruby, please end my HereDoc once you find this terminator string"
Hello world!
Ruby, please end my HereDoc once you find this terminator string


fuzzy_names = <<">>"
foo, baz, bar

Wow, if i can use double quoted string, then probably i can use single quoted string as well:

puts <<'end of string'
end of string

as single quoted strings aren’t interpolated unlike double quoted:

puts <<"end of string"
end of string

Indent modifier

By default HereDoc terminator is expected to be placed on the very beginning of the separate line
By using – on HereDoc declaration, you may indent end terminator arbitrary:

greeting = <<-"here document ends"
                 Hello world
               here document ends

Keep in mind that leading spaces are kept.

Advanced usages

a, b = <<'EOA', <<-EOB
is equal to
a, b = "string_a\n", "string_b\n"

At this point i’m thinking about HereDoc as “placeholder” that gets substituted with the string itself. Why is that important? Because you may then treat HereDoc declaration as the actual string and send messages(call methods):

<<'heredoc'.reverse == "\n!dlrow olleH"
Hello world!

is a true statement!

STI of ActiveRecord in Rails

STI, Single Table Inheritance, supported by ActiveRecord in rails to let us build the models’ hierarchy on a single data table.

Model description

For example, we have a User model, and have an Administrator model, which inherit from User. we can build just one table named ‘user’, and make sure there is a column named ‘type’ and of string type in the User table. like below:

mysql>describe 'user';
| Field                    | Type         | Null | Key | Default  | Extra          |
| id                       | int(11)      | NO   | PRI | NULL     | auto_increment |
| type                     | varchar(255) | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| name                     | varchar(255) | YES  |     | NULL     |                |


then, we can writing following code to have a look of STI:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
    validates_presence_of :name
class Administrator < Post

just this, and we can verify it in console:

admin = Administrator.create( :name => "admin")
admin.type # "Administrator" # 1


the STI is enabled by default, and so the 'type' in table is likely reserved for STI and we can not using it for other purpose;
and another problem is that if the shared columns are not so much in the model hierarchy, it's a waste using STI, we prefer to setup another table for the child model.
Luckily, we can disable this feature in a table that not using this feature. by doing this:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
    self.abstract_class = true
    validates_presence_of :name
class Administrator < Post

by doing this, the 'type' columns in User can be used at our will and there must another table for Administrator alone.


The difference from %w to %W in Ruby

Difference between %w and %W

In short, %w act as ', while %W act as "
In long words, %w not convert the #{} clause, but %W do, like the codes below:


irb(main):001:0> foo="hello"
=> "hello"
irb(main):002:0> %W(foo bar baz #{foo})
=> ["foo", "bar", "baz", "hello"]
irb(main):003:0> %w(foo bar baz #{foo})
=> ["foo", "bar", "baz", "\#{foo}"]


Typhoeus : a gem for http requests in rails.


Single request

request =
  method: :post,
  body: "this is a request body",
  params: { field1: "a field" },
  headers: { Accept: "text/html" }

# handle the response as follows
request.on_complete do |response|
  if response.success?
    # hell yeah
  elsif response.timed_out?
    # aw hell no
    log("got a time out")
  elsif response.code == 0
    # Could not get an http response, something's wrong.
    # Received a non-successful http response.
    log("HTTP request failed: " + response.code.to_s)

# this will actually execute the request

Parallel requests
Typhoeus doing well in the parallel requests, just doing this:

hydra = Typhoeus::Hydra.hydra

first_request ="")
first_request.on_complete do |response|
  third_request =
  hydra.queue third_request
second_request ="")

hydra.queue first_request
hydra.queue second_request
# this is a blocking call that returns once all requests are complete

For more information, looking:
Typhoeus on Github