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Compiling Ruby .NET and Fun With SQL Server

Getting Ruby In Steel To Work With Other Tools...
by Huw Collingbourne
Friday 16 February 2007.

I’ve been busy testing out other people’s tools lately - ranging from Microsoft’s SQL Server to the Gardens Point Ruby .NET compiler.

The Gardens Point compiler is an interesting and ambitious project which is being developed at the Queensland University of Technology. It aims to provide a .NET (IL) compiler “to statically compile a Ruby source file into a verifiable .NET v2.0 assembly”. The latest version, which was released this month, is claimed to pass all 871 tests in the samples/test.rb test suite of Ruby 1.8.2. The team is now working on the (significant) challenge of getting it to work with Ruby On Rails applications.

I decided to see how easy it would be to integrate the Gardens Point compiler with Ruby In Steel. the answer is: fairly easy. I would prefer it to be extremely easy and we may need to see if we can do something to support better integration at a later stage. Still, integration is OK for the time being and, due to the fact that the compiler is still in beta (0.6), I’m reluctant to build in any tight links between it and Ruby In Steel just at the moment. We shall certainly be keeping an eye on it as it matures, however. I’ll be writing a more detailed blog entry about the Gardens Point compiler in a week or so.

I must admit that while I find the idea of a .NET Ruby compiler essentially interesting, the same cannot be said for SQL databases. In my view, they are a necessary evil. But, as databases form an essential part of Rails development, there really is no getting away from them.

Usually, when I develop for Rails, I use MySQL. On the whole, I find MySQL pretty easy to use. The same cannot be said for Microsoft’s SQL Server. In spite of all its “easy to use” slogans, I’ve had a hard time getting as far as the starting line with SQL Server Express (the free edition). And on the basis of queries we’ve had from some Ruby In Steel users, I’m not the only one…

It’s worth keeping at it, though. Once you’ve got over the initial hurdles, SQL Server works very nicely and integrates well with Visual Studio: you can create databases and tables, work on your Rails code and view the resulting application in a browser window without having to move outside Visual Studio itself. To help you get up and running, therefore, I’ve written a (hopefully) simple step-by-step tutorial to creating a very basic Rails application with SQL Server. You’ll find it HERE.

Now, time to get back to work on the Gardens Point compiler…. :-)

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