Another Way to Write Ruby Code

Disclaimer: I am not suggesting to change the Ruby style guide.

At a workshop I was giving a few years ago, someone not used to writing Ruby code found an interesting way, that you can write Ruby code.

First let’s assume a class Thingy, that doesn’t do anything useful. It’s just needed to demonstrate the way to write Ruby.

Assume this is in file ‘thingy.rb’:

# frozen_string_literal: true

# Thingy is only used to demonstrate
# a way of writing Ruby code
class Thingy
  def initialize(*args)
    @args = args

  def this(other)
    @args << other

  def that(*other)
    @args << other

  def content

Now, let’s use this class in another script, that’s showing the alternative way to write Ruby code (in file use_thingy.rb):

# frozen_string_literal: true

(require_relative 'thingy')

part = ( 'String', :symbol, Math::PI)

(p ((part.this 'Wahoodie?!').that :huh, Math::E).content)

Notice that rather LISP-like way to parenthesise, in line 7 in particular. I still am surprised that this is possible in Ruby and actually behaves the way I’d expect.

Running that script yields the following output:

> ruby use_thingy.rb
["String", :symbol, 3.141592653589793, "Wahoodie?!", [:huh, 2.718281828459045]]

It’s also entertaining that Rubocop does not complain about this code:

> ls
thingy.rb     use_thingy.rb
> rubocop .
Inspecting 2 files

2 files inspected, no offenses detected

This is one of the reasons I like programming in Ruby so much: One can discover new ways (even if probably not very useful ones, sometimes) even after years of using it.

In case you’d like to experiment with this code: It’s on GitHub:

Getting Started with Ruby and rbenv on a Raspberry Pi

In preparation of a workshop at Agile Testing Days 2022, I’m setting up a Raspberry Pi as a backup system for participants, to be prepared if things go wrong. Especially one of the first steps “Installing Ruby – If Necessary” has the potential to fail or take too long.

With the keyboard configured (see the previous post “Setting Up a Raspberry PI with a German Mac Keyboard“), the next step is installing a recent Ruby version. I’ll use rbenv , a widespread tool to manage Ruby versions on a machine.

Installing rbenv

The rbenv page suggests to install the tool using a basic git checkout.

~ $ git clone ~/.rbenv
Cloning into '/home/guest/.rbenv'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 3138, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (288/288), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (147/147), done.
remote: Total 3138 (delta 165), reused 231 (delta 131), pack-reused 2850
Receiving objects: 100% (3138/3138), 626.69 KiB | 3.12 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (1955/1955), done.

Following the next step in the docs, .bashrc is updated to initialise rbenv:

~ $ echo 'eval "$(~/.rbenv/bin/rbenv init - bash)"' >> ~/.bashrc

Restarting the terminal app actually loads the updated .bashrc, and then rbenv is installed and configured.

Another step is to also install the ruby-build plugin, which rbenv uses to compile and install new Ruby versions. I’ll use git to clone this plugin and upgrade it (as documented in

~ $ git clone "$(rbenv root)"/plugins/ruby-build

Now, rbenv can be used to install Rubyies:

~ $ time rbenv install 3.1.2
To follow progress, use 'tail -f /tmp/ruby-build.20221110172124.19039.log' or pass --verbose
No system openssl version was found, ensure openssl headers are installed (
Downloading openssl-3.0.7.tar.gz...

As a last step set this new Ruby version to be used globally:

rbenv global 3.1.2

That’s it. Ruby 3.1.2 is now available for the user an the Raspberry Pi.

Setting Up a Raspberry PI with a German Mac Keyboard

This is another “Note to self” post.

For a workshop I will present at the Agile Testing Days 2022, I’ve set up a backup computer, in case folks don’t have Ruby installed on their machine already, or don’t get it installed within the available time slot.

The Raspberry itself had already worked … with some keyboard back in 2017 (when I used it in a ½ days tutorial at the same conference). But now, I connected a Mac keyboard to it, one with a German layout – including the umlauts. Getting the configuration to work well enough was surprisingly hard.

The existing keyboard configuration didn’t work very well, since it expected an international layout, meaning that the key cap labels weren’t always correct. Or the printed key wasn’t, depending on your perspective.

Setting it up using the GUI application that comes with RaspbianOS didn’t work so well either: for some configuration settings the keyboard stopped reacting completely. Yay! I learned another way how not do do it. 🤣

In the end I used the terminal raspi-config:

sudo raspi-config
A screenshot of the 'raspi-config' tool as displayed in a terminal window

to try all variations of (non-japanese) Apple keyboards with the corresponding German layouts and variants.

In the end I settled with this configuration, as it is stored in /etc/default/keyboard on the Raspi:


# Consult the keyboard(5) manual page.



Colourful Code with Pygments

This is another entry in the ‘Note to Self’ category. 🙂 I’m sure I will need this information at some later point in time again.

The other day I wanted to have some code syntax-highlighted and be able to select the colour theme and well as use the highlighted listing in a number of ways.

Since Pygments is a library made for this task and it also provides a command line tool: pygmentize. It took me some time to use the tool the right way and produce the result I was looking for.

To show how I ended up using it, I’ll use fd as an example, a Ruby utility I wrote that dumps file contents as hex codes and utf-8 characters.

The command below is run inside a directory that contains a sub-folder ‘bin’, and inside that a (Ruby) file fd. To achieve this you can do the following (preferably when in a folder where you keep your cloned Git repositories):

> git clone
Cloning into 'fd'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 532, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (57/57), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (9/9), done.
remote: Total 532 (delta 48), reused 53 (delta 47), pack-reused 475
Receiving objects: 100% (532/532), 105.97 KiB | 526.00 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (261/261), done.
> cd fd

Here’s the command to create an HTML file using the given theme:

> pygmentize -l ruby -O full,style=monokai,linenos=1 -o fd.html -f html bin/fd

Here’s what the Parameters mean:

-l ruby
Set Ruby as the language to ge highlighted.
-O full,style=monokai,linenos=1
full generates output that includes everything to display the colourised code.
style=monokai sets the theme to ‘Monokai’.
linenos=1 displays the line numbers in the output.
-o fd.html
Set the output file name.
-f html
Set the output format to HTML.

When generating HTML, the full seems to be particularly important, as otherwise the HTML won’t contain the CSS used to colour the code.
The resulting highlighted code looks like this:

The colourised code of the file 'fd', including line numbers in front of each line.
The pygmentized source code

In case you’d like to experiment with pygmentize, here’s some zsh code that prints a sorted list of the styles it knows about:

> pygmentize -L styles | grep "* \(\w\+\):" | sed "s/* \([a-z_]*\):/\1/" | sort


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