Category Archives: Ruby

Ruby’s variable variables

Hello everyone,

This is a quick post that should help developers new to Ruby. It may also help out those that have been away from the language for a while. Its just a quick reference to Ruby’s variables and their respective scopes. I know I had a chart to keep it all straight when I first encountered the language.

  1. @ An instance variable
  2. [a-z] or _ A local variable
  3. [A-Z] A constant
  4. @@ A class variable
  5. $ A global variable

This information is easily found on the net if you know what you are looking for. I just posted it to help make it even easier to find for those that are new to Ruby, or new to code writing 🙂 .

Mergesort and Quicksort with Dynamic Languages

The other day I was flipping through an algorithms book and came across a section on sorting. I remembered that I had a blast writing them c++ during my undergrad and thought it would be fun to write them in a couple of different languages. I settled on writing a quicksort, and mergesort.
Interesting notes:
1) Python(2.5) returns a None type when appending a value to an empty list which forced me to use ‘+’
>>> ex= [].append()
>>> print ex

2) Groovy gave me a java.util.ConcurrentModificationException when I transcribed my Ruby code to Groovy. Because of the fact that I was deleting items from a list that I would read in later(while loop which checks size of left and right), I got this error. Accounting for that, the groovy code is pretty nasty.(anyone that would like to provide a better example without relying on the built in Collections.sort(list) would be welcome)

Here is my code… enjoy!

==========MERGE SORT========


def merge_sort(ary)
  return ary if (ary.length <= 1)
  half = ary.length/2
  left = merge_sort(ary[0...half])
  right = merge_sort(ary[half..ary.length-1])
  result =[]
#compare first left and first right
  while left.length > 0 and right.length > 0
    result << (left[0] < right[0] ? left.shift : right.shift)
  result.concat((left.length > 0 ? left : right))
  return result

p merge_sort(ary)

-----------Python Mergesort-------------

def merg_sort(lst):
    if(len(lst) <= 1):  return lst
    left = merg_sort(lst[:len(lst)/2])
    right = merg_sort(lst[len(lst)/2:len(lst)])
    result = []
    while len(left) > 0 and len(right)> 0:
        if( left[0] > right[0]):

    if(len(left)>0): result.extend(merg_sort(left))
    else: result.extend(merg_sort(right))

    return result

print merg_sort([8,7,43,2,5])

--------Erlang Mergesort-------------

break([]) -> [];
break([L]) -> [L];
break(List) ->
    {Left, Right} = lists:split(length(List) div 2, List),

merge(L, []) -> L;
merge([], R) -> R;
	 Lh < Rh -> [Lh | merge(Ltail,[Rh|Rtail])];
	 Lh >= Rh -> [Rh | merge(Rtail,[Lh|Ltail])]

%to test, run mergesort:msTestSuite(run).

mstest1(run)-> ms([3,2,1]).
mstest2(run)-> ms([3,3,3,1]).
mstest3(run)-> ms([]).
mstest4(run)-> ms([1]).
mstest5(run)-> ms([123,0,-1,23,2,34,5,678,7,5,8]).	 

-------------GROOVY MERGESORT--------
def ms(lst){
    if(lst.size() <= 1){return lst}
    def sz=lst.size()
    int half = (int)(sz/2)
    def l = lst [ 0 .. < half]
    def r = lst [ half.. < sz]
    def lft = ms(l)
    def rht  = ms(r)
    def result = []  
    def rcnt = 0
    def lcnt = 0
   while( lcnt < lft.size() && rcnt < rht.size()){
        if(lft[lcnt] < rht[rcnt]){
        	result += lft[lcnt++]
			result += rht[rcnt++]
    if(lcnt < lft.size()){ 
		result +=  ms(lft[lcnt..< lft.size()]) 
		result += ms(rht[rcnt..< rht.size()])
    return result

println ms(sl)


def quick_sort(ary)
  return ary if(ary.length <= 1)
  greater,less = [],[]
  pos = rand(ary.length)
  pivot = ary[pos]
       (item < pivot) ? less << item :greater << item}
  return (quick_sort(less) << pivot).concat(quick_sort(greater))

p quick_sort(ary)

----------Python Quicksort--------------

import random
def quickSort(lst):
	if(len(lst) <= 1):return lst
	greater = []
	less = []
	pivot = lst.pop(random.randint(0,len(lst)-1))
	for item in lst:
		if(item < pivot): less.append(item)
		else: greater.append(item)
	return quickSort(less)+[pivot]+quickSort(greater)


----------Erlang Quicksort--------------

qsort([]) ->[];
qsort([Pivot|T]) ->
		lists:append( [qsort([X || X <- T, X < Pivot]),
		[Pivot], qsort([X || X <- T, X >= Pivot]) ).

-------GROOVY QUICKSORT--------------
def quickSort(lst){
	if(lst.size() <= 1){return lst}
	def greater = []
	def less = []
	def pivot = lst.remove(new  Random().nextInt(lst.size()))
		if(item < pivot){ less.add(item)}
	return quickSort(less)+[pivot]+quickSort(greater)
print quickSort([1,5,14,3,2,45,2,0,01,-1])

Ruby to Python Primer

If your like me, you bounce around between languages a lot. Lately, I have been writing python code. It’s not Ruby 😀 , but it can get the job done. Here is a quick list of similarities between the two languages. I hope it helps… don’t forget to this list in the comments section 😉

#-----find object methods-----
s="hello, I am a string"

puts s.methods

print dir(s)

#find out more about a method using python

#-----view object's class-----


#------Iterate hashes-------

h.each{|key,value| puts "#{key}, #{value}"}

for key,value in h.iteritems():
print key, value

#---ternary operators

condition ? var = x : var = y

#python.. not exactly an operator, but you get the meaning
#---- var = y if condition is false
var = x if condition else y

s="hello, I am a string"
puts "Length of string is #{s.length} or #{s.size}"

puts "Length of hash is same as string, #{h.length} or #{h.size} "

print("This is the length of a string %s" % len("string"))
print("number of key/value pair= %d" % len({'one':1,'two':2}))

#---slicing lists/arrays

l[1..3] #=>[2,3]

l[1:3] #=>[2,3]

#--print string multiple times-----

4.times{print "hello"} #=> hellohellohellohello

print("hello" * 4) #=> hellohellohellohello


So for my own geeky pleasure, I decided to try writing cgi scripts with Ruby, Python, PHP, and Perl.  All had readily accessible documentation on how to POST to a https URL but ruby. My first thought was to look at the Net:HTTP documentation found HERE.

The one example I wanted was not listed. I did some searching around and pieced together the following code. I hope this is as big a help to you as it was to me. Looking at it, It seems pretty intuitive….but if your like me, sometimes you need it spelled out 😀

As a side note, setting path to path = ‘/../’ is my work-around for a script that is mapped to rather than ‘/some_POST_handling_script.rb’

#Juan Vazquez ->
require 'net/http'
require 'net/https'
http ='', 443)
http.use_ssl = true
#path(a.k.a) ->'
path = '/some_POST_handling_script.rb'
data = 'badguy=Gargamel'

headers = {'Content-Type'=> 'application/x-www-form-urlencoded'}

resp, data =, data, headers)

puts 'Code = ' + resp.code
puts 'Message = ' + resp.message
resp.each {|key, val| puts key + ' = ' + val}
puts data

Recursive Directory Search with Ruby and Groovy

A while back I was bored and decided I need to brush up on my Ruby chops. I had been wanting to play with threads for quite some time and couldn’t think of anything that would be a fun project to do…until this crazy idea hit me.  Wouldn’t it be cool if could generate multiple threads to search different servers for any file of my choosing?” The code I wrote doesn’t directly do this, but with some minor tweaks it could be done.

I took that idea and ran with it using Ruby. After I finished coding, I thought I would try writing it from scratch using my second favorite language, Groovy (Ruby is my first).  I have to admit, writing the Groovy code was more intuitive because of the baked in file/directory iterators. I refactored my Ruby code a few times and ended up using the find module to maximize performance. Below is the code, and as always, I am open to suggestions on other ways of doing it 😀

Ruby code

#  Juan Vazquez
require 'find'
class DirectoryWizard
  attr_accessor :root_dir,:exts, :thread_cnt, :thread_tracker, :count
  #initialize with a root , and file extensions
  def initialize(root, t_count,*extensions)
    @root_dir, @exts, @thread_cnt , @thread_tracker, @count = root, extensions, t_count, [], 0

  def start_looking
      puts Dir.entries(@root_dir).select{|dir_item| is_in_ext(dir_item) }
      list_dirs(@root_dir).each do|di|
        @thread_tracker <<{|directory| 
                                             recursive_file_search(directory) }
        wait_for_running_threads  if(@thread_tracker.size > @thread_cnt)
    rescue Exception => e; puts e;
  def recursive_file_search(directory)
       puts dir_item

    #return array of immediate subdirectories excluding . and ..
  def list_dirs(directory)
   Dir.entries(directory).select{|fh|(!is_p_c_directory?(fh) && 

  #return an array of all file/directories excluding '.' and '..'
  def list_contents(directory)
    Dir.entries(directory).delete_if{|x| is_p_c_directory?(x)}

  #is Parent or Current Directory
  def is_p_c_directory?(filename);(filename =="." || filename == "..");end
#return an array of files that match ext
  def is_in_ext(dir_item); @exts.detect{|ext| dir_item.match(ext)}; end
 def wait_for_running_threads
end #end class



puts "Done with Program count is #{t.count}"

Groovy Code

import java.util.regex.*;
class DirWiz{
   def root_dir, exts, thread_max_cnt, thread_tracker, count

   public DirWiz(String basedir, int t_count, List extensions){
        this.root_dir = basedir
        this.exts = compile_regex(extensions)
        this.thread_max_cnt = t_count
        this.thread_tracker = []
    def start_looking(){
          def dir = new File(this.root_dir)
          //recursively search directories
           dir.eachDir{ subDir->
            //thread it off
           if(this.thread_tracker.size() > this.thread_max_cnt){
           this.thread_tracker << Thread.start{
                 subDir.eachFileRecurse{ fh -> 
      }catch(Exception e){
        println("error ${e}")
   def print_if_match(String file){this.exts.each{ext->
   def check_using_compiled_regex(String file){
	def var = this.exts.find{it.matcher(file).matches()}
    }catch(Exception e){println("Not a Directory ${dir}\n$e")}
   def check_for_files(String dir){
      try{ new File(dir).eachFile{ file ->
      }catch(Exception e){println("Not a Directory ${dir}\n$e")}
   def compile_regex(List list){
    List ret_list=[]
    list.each{ ret_list <<    Pattern.compile(it,Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE)}
    return ret_list

def t = new DirWiz('c:\\',16,[".*\\.jpg.*"])//look for jpegs
//def t = new DirWiz('\\\\server\\dir\\',16,["filname"])

println("Done with the program total number of files is ${t.count}")



File I/O Part 1

I love to learn and try new languages. Not only is learning a new language fun, many times it teaches me something new about a language that I am already familiar with. The only problem that I have with learning so many languages, is keeping them straight. I decided that I would take a few of the dynamic languages I use most often and compile a list of how to handle File I/O with each of them. If you have a Dynamic language(part 2 of this post will be on static languages) not represented below or have another method of File I/O with the represented languages, please add to the list with its respective File I/O code:D
Without further ado…

//Groovy open file for writing
def target ="filename"
File wf= new File(target)
wf.write( "I am in your file eating your space" )

//Groovy one liner
new File('filename.txt').text = 'First line of text!'

//Groovy open file for appending
def target ="filename"
File af= new File(target)
af.append("I have all of your base")

//Groovy read each line in file
new File("filename").eachLine{line-> println line}

//Groovy read whole document and put into List

List lines = new File("filename").readLines()
//lines contains two lines that we need
println "first line  $lines[0]"
println "second line $lines[1]"

//Groovy reading one line
File rf= new File("filename") //open for reading
//read first line, trim, assign to tmp
rf.withReader { line ->tmp = line.readLine().trim()}

//Groovy test if file exists
File src = new File(srcFile)
if (src.exists() ){ println "I exist"}
else{println "I don't exist"}

#Ruby openfile for reading
fh =, "r")  # open file "path" for reading only

#Ruby open file for writing
fout   =, "w")  # open file "path" for writing only
fout.puts "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Select, Start"

#Ruby open file for apending
fa.puts "I am at the end of file"

#Ruby read eachline in a file"file").each { |line| p line}

#Ruby read entire file to string
fh =
str =

#Ruby read entire file into array(each line is an element in the array)
fh =
str = fh.readlines

#Python Write a file
fout = open("DeletMe.txt", "w")
fout.write("Writing to fout\nCheck it out!")

#Python Read an entire file
fin = open("ReadingTest.txt", "r")
fin_text =
print fin_text

#Python read entire file into list
fin = open("ReadingTest.txt", "r")
txt= fin.readlines()
print txt[0]

#Python append to a file
fh= open ( 'DeleteMe.txt', 'a' )
fh.write ( '\n\n\nBottom line.' )

#Perl reading a file
open(FILE,  '<', $file) or die "Can't read $file: $!\n";
print ;

#Perl append to a file
open(FILE, '>>', $file) or    die "Can't append to $file: $!\n";
print FILE "text";

#Perl read and write to a file
#+< allows reading and writing, and keeps the data that was
#already in the file.  open() will fail if file doesn't exist.
open(FILE, "+<$file" ) or die ("Can't  read|write: $file\n");

#Perl read and write to a file
#+>allows writing and reading, but replaces/overwrites the
#data in the file if the file exists. Creates it if it doesn't exist.
open(FILE, "+>$file" ) or die ("Can't write or read:$file \n");


PHP code doesn’t display properly within WordPress, so here is an image of the code

PHP File I/O

Handling Ruby’s String.each_char Iterator

Ahh the joys of iterators. I can’t say enough about how much they make my life easier. They are just so darn handy. Life was good in my Ruby world until I needed to iterate through the characters in a string. Thinking to myself, “there has got to be a method that does this,” I looked up Ruby’s String class and saw just what the doctor ordered… each_char.

Feeling pretty proud that my favorite language had this baked right in, I was only to happy to inject it into my code and test it out. That is until I recieved the dreaded NoMethodError: undefined method `each_char’ . Eeek, what did I do wrong? Did I mispell the method…..Nope, did I call it correctly…..Yep. Well, what the heck is going on?

After multiple attempts to find the answer on Google, I finally posted my problem to the ruby-talk group. I was told that the Ruby 1.8 String implementation that I was using only understood bytes and that I could use require ‘jcode’ to get the iterator to work the way I wanted. I did some looking around and I am not sure this is a great solution, after all, I could have easily used the each_byte{|f| f.chr} to iterate through and convert accordingly. I don’t understand why something that is documented as part of the class, does not work.

It would really help if there was an easy to search area on the net dedicated to language quirks for people trying to get a better grasp of their programming language of choice. Maybe that will be my next ROR project.

As it turns out, my Ruby 1.8.7 installation on my Fedora core 9 works as advertised.