Ruby Core

Now is a fantastic time to follow Ruby’s development. With the increased attention Ruby has received in the past few years, there’s a growing need for good talent to help enhance Ruby and document its parts. So, where do you start?

The topics related to Ruby development covered here are:

Using Subversion to Track Ruby Development

Getting the latest Ruby source code is a matter of an anonymous checkout from the Subversion repository. From your command line:

$ svn co http://svn.ruby-lang.org/repos/ruby/trunk ruby

The ruby directory will now contain the latest source code for the development version of Ruby (ruby-trunk). Currently patches applied to the trunk are backported to the stable 2.0.0 and 1.9.3 branches (see below).

If you’d like to follow patching of Ruby 2.0.0, you should use the ruby_2_0_0 branch when checking out:

$ svn co http://svn.ruby-lang.org/repos/ruby/branches/ruby_2_0_0

If you’d like to follow patching of Ruby 1.9.3, you should use the ruby_1_9_3 branch when checking out:

$ svn co http://svn.ruby-lang.org/repos/ruby/branches/ruby_1_9_3

This will check out the Ruby 1.9.3 development tree into a ruby_1_9_3 directory. Developers working on Ruby 1.9.3 are expected to migrate their changes to Ruby’s trunk, so often the two branches are very similar, with the exception of improvements made by Matz and Nobu to the language itself.

If you prefer, you may browse Ruby’s Subversion repository via the web.

For information about Subversion, please see the Subversion FAQ and the Subversion book. Alternatively, you may find Pragmatic Version Control with Subversion to be a useful introductory book.

How to Use Git With the Main Ruby Repository

Those who prefer to use Git over Subversion can find instructions with the mirror on GitHub, both for those with commit access and everybody else.

Improving Ruby, Patch by Patch

The core team maintains an issue tracker for submitting patches and bug reports to Matz and the gang. These reports also get submitted to the Ruby-Core mailing list for discussion, so you can be sure your request won’t go unnoticed. You can also send your patches straight to the mailing list. Either way, you are encouraged to take part in the discussion that ensues.

Please look over the Patch Writer’s Guide for some tips, straight from Matz, on how to get your patches considered.

To summarize, the steps for building a patch are:

  1. Check out a copy of the Ruby source code from Subversion. Usually patches for bugfixes or new features should be submitted for the trunk of Ruby’s source. Even if you wish to add a feature to Ruby 1.9.3, it has to be proven in the trunk first.

    $ svn co http://svn.ruby-lang.org/repos/ruby/trunk ruby
    

    If you are fixing a bug that is specific to only one maintenance branch, check out a copy of the respective branch, e.g. ruby_1_9.3.

    $ svn co http://svn.ruby-lang.org/repos/ruby/branches/ruby_1_9_3
    
  2. Add your improvements to the code.

  3. Create a patch.

    $ svn diff > ruby-changes.patch
    
  4. Create a ticket in the issue tracker or email your patch to the Ruby-Core mailing list with a ChangeLog entry describing the patch.

  5. If there are no issues raised about the patch, committers will be given the approval to apply it.

Please note: patches should be submitted as a unified diff. For more on how patches are merged, see the diffutils reference.

Discussion of Ruby’s development converges on the Ruby-Core mailing list. So, if you are curious about whether your patch is worthwhile or you want to spark a discussion about Ruby’s future, don’t hesitate to come aboard. Be warned that off-topic discussions are not tolerated on this list, the noise level should be very low, topics should be pointed, well-conceived and well-written. Since we’re addressing Ruby’s creator, let’s have some reverence.

Keep in mind that Ruby’s core developers live in Japan and, while many speak very good English, there is a significant timezone difference. They also have an entire body of Japanese development lists happening alongside the English counterparts. Be patient, if your claim isn’t resolved, be persistent—give it another shot a few days later.

Rules for Core Developers

Generally, the developers of Ruby should be familiar with the source code and the style of development used by the team. To be clear, the following guidelines should be honored when checking into Subversion:

  • All check-ins should be described in the ChangeLog, following the GNU conventions. (Many Ruby core developers use Emacs add-log mode, which can be accessed with the command C-x 4 a.)
  • Check-in dates should be given in Japan Standard Time (UTC+9).
  • The bulleted points from your ChangeLog should also be placed in the Subversion commit message. This message will be automatically mailed to the Ruby-CVS list after you commit.
  • Function prototypes are used throughout Ruby’s source code and its packaged extensions.
  • Please, do not use C++-style comments (//), Ruby’s maintainers instead prefer the standard C multi-line comment (/* .. */).

See also the information in Ruby’s issue tracker.