Published on May 7, 2014
How to get started building Mac OS X apps with RubyMotion fast
A little about me • My name is Elliott Draper • 10 years of experience working on the web • I’ve been using Ruby for 8 years • I’ve been working for myself for 5 years • I’ve been working with RubyMotion for 2 years
A little about me • I run my own company, KickCode • Mainly building apps for clients • I also have a few apps of my own
except.io error tracking and notiﬁcations for Rails, and now RubyMotion ! https://except.io/
AlbumAlert A simple iPhone app built with RubyMotion to let you know when new albums are coming out from your favourite artists ! http://kickcode.com/case- studies/album-alert/
WordTarget A productivity application to track word count across applications, and to help you work towards a daily writing goal
Wonderment An open-source example application, using the fantastic Marvel Comics API, updating your desktop wallpaper with comic book covers, based on your favourite character selections!
I’m also writing a book • Building Mac OS X applications with RubyMotion • Available for early access very soon • Will be ﬁnished in a couple of months • This probably won’t be the last plug for the book
This talk is all about RubyMotion
What is RubyMotion? • It was released in May 2012, and was for iOS only to begin with • It was based on work already done on MacRuby, for OS X • It’s not a platform, or a framework, but a toolchain
What does this mean? • It’s not a platform like iOS itself • It’s not a framework like Ruby on Rails is for building web apps • It's a toolchain allowing you to use the Ruby language to create apps that compile into native executable applications for iOS (and now OS X)
But what does this mean? • The resulting applications are the same as if they’d been built with Objective-C in Xcode • They are native apps, and they don’t have any additional performance or security concerns as a result of being built with RubyMotion
Cool… I guess? • Your apps can interop nicely with the standard Cocoa libraries, and the vast majority of user written Objective-C code in Xcode projects • Everything gets compiled together - so long as the compile order is correct, code written in Ruby and compiled by RubyMotion can access classes and methods deﬁned in Objective-C libs • This includes CocoaPods, the Objective-C equivalent of RubyGems
• OS X support was added midway through last year • You can abstract away some code so that it works on both platforms in certain cases • This means being able to ship a library or gem that can provide utility through Ruby code to both iOS and OS X apps written in RubyMotion
Joybox • One gem • Works with both iOS and OS X • Has speciﬁc platform related features • Core code works on both • https://github.com/rubymotion/ joybox
motion-kit • Just released, still has that brand new gem smell • Looks like a much better way to layout your UI • Designed to work with iOS and OS X • https://github.com/rubymotion/motion-kit
Cocoa and Cocoa Touch • Diﬀerent standard libs • On iOS, you have UI* • On OS X, you have NS* • Core concepts are very similar, but the platforms are also very diﬀerent
Similarities • NSApplication.sharedApplication.delegate (OS X) • UIApplication.sharedApplication.delegate (iOS) • If you know how to do something on iOS, simply changing UI for NS in the class names will quite often point you in the right direction
Similarities • The overarching delegate pattern used when responding to events for objects and controls is much the same on OS X • objectDidDoSomething(object, withOption: option, andAnother: another)
Differences • Laying out a user interface can be done programmatically in a similar way, and yet the x and y position co-ordinates work entirely diﬀerently • [0,0] is top left on iOS • [0,0] is bottom left on OS X
Frameworks • If it's not a framework, then is there a Rails-like equivalent for building RubyMotion apps? • For iOS there is ProMotion • There are a lot of libs too to help with speciﬁc areas of app building, such as models and data storage • http://rubymotion-wrappers.com/ is incredibly useful
Landscape • The landscape is similar to when Ruby on Rails ﬁrst came about, in as much as there were then a lot of plugins and extensions for Ruby on Rails, and in the beginning there wasn't always a clear front runner as to which was the best one to use, but each one had beneﬁts and drawbacks • Often even when there was a “favourite” plugin or gem for a common feature, it’d change a few weeks or months later • The key as always with any OSS code is that when choosing what to use in your app, look for code that is regularly maintained, and where the project owner(s) are responsive to issues
Landscape • In some cases a library, gem or framework that is regularly maintained, even if it doesn't yet do everything you need, might be a better choice than something that appears to have everything you need, but hasn't been updated in years • You'll almost certainly not build any apps of any real complexity without requiring something on top of what the lib oﬀers, and a framework or library that is constantly growing and maturing, not to mention accepting of contributions, is a better bet for the future of your app
Stability • RubyMotion is now very mature and stable • It had some teething issues, but less than you might think for something as complex as a toolchain for compiling Ruby into native code for iOS devices • Nowadays it's very stable, on iOS and OS X, and the pace of development seems to have increased, making it a very well maintained toolchain to use, with any issues that do crop up ﬁxed in short order • The team behind it are also very active in ﬁne tuning the toolchain, and responding to critical issues in very quick hotﬁx releases
Community • RubyMotion has a very active community, and again it has the “early days of Rails” feel to it • RubyMotion Dispatch newsletter for keeping up to date with the latest happenings: http:// rubymotiondispatch.com/ • MotionMeetup online monthly meetups: http:// meetup.rubymotion.com/ • RubyMotion #inspect conference: http:// www.rubymotion.com/conference/2014/
A note on syntax • When interacting with Cocoa/Cocoa Touch, and other Objective-C written libs, you’ll ﬁnd you’ll need to use camelCase syntax for method names • As Rubyists, we generally use snake_case • You can continue to use snake_case for your Ruby code, and camelCase for calling into Obj-C libs • Or you can use camelCase across the board for consistency
Usage • So, what can we do with it? • The bottom line is, anything we can do in Objective-C - there are no limits • But this talk is focusing on OS X, and speciﬁcally, how we can delve into building an app quickly
Building Mac OS X apps
Getting started • I found the easiest way to get started was to start with menu bar apps • They require minimal UI • They can provide very useful functionality or controls, or expose some information or data to the user in a prime spot • They are quite straightforward to get started with!
osx-status-bar-app-template • RubyMotion now supports templates, for spinning up apps with similar structure and skeletons quickly • My gem provides a barebones for a status bar app ! • Voila, a status bar app!
Let’s make it more interesting • We can conﬁgure what we show in the status bar itself, as well as the menu shown underneath it • We can hook it up to a system service, to show some stats • Or hook it up to a web API to keep connected with a third party • Our menu can provide controls for doing diﬀerent things • Or we can even lose the menu, and show a custom window pane underneath the status bar, for maximum customisability
motion-popup • Used to provide custom window panes to show under menus • Now supports free ﬂoating custom windows too • Can customise how it looks • Looks nicer than a basic menu underneath the status bar item
Project time • A great way to get started building apps with RubyMotion is to write a little utility • Utility and productivity apps are generally a good ﬁt for status bar apps
Simple note tracking • Let’s break down a simple RubyMotion app to track notes • Think of these as post-it notes, little tiny bits of info you want to remember for a short period of time • We’ll have a status bar item to show how many notes you have currently, and to allow you to view them • We’ll have a hotkey-enabled ﬂoating custom window for note entry
Skeleton • We’ll start with our app skeleton generated from using the template gem for status bar apps • http://kck.io/1f2w2u1L0V46
Incrementing note counter • We’re going to add a menu item that simply increments a counter, which updates the status item in our status bar with the latest total • http://kck.io/021j3a381v0T
Custom entry window • We’re going to use the motion-popup gem to make building our popup window a lot easier • It should look like this, a very basic, custom ﬂoating window to enter a note in • http://kck.io/101w213n3e2s
Hotkey for hiding and showing • Next up, instead of the window just showing when we run the app, let’s make it so we can hide and show it with a global key combination • http://kck.io/3v1W0D142G0k
Storing notes in memory when entered • When we hit return on our note editing window, we want it to be automatically stashed in memory • It should also update the note count in the status bar • http://kck.io/3n1s1g0z1L3w
Listing notes in menu • We should add the notes to the status bar drop down menu • When we click them, they should be removed (reducing the note count in the status bar) • http://kck.io/1O2T422n2A0V
Custom window pane for status bar item • Let’s switch to something more fancy, using a custom popup pane below the status bar item • It should list out the notes in a scrolling view • http://kck.io/053x3J2d362t
Button besides each note for removal • Let’s add a nice button for removing the notes • http://kck.io/031I3I3H300U
Editing notes • And then when we click on the note, we should be able to edit it using the same entry window as we use to create the notes • http://kck.io/0E0f3U2a0F1H
Showing context menu • We don’t have any way to access the about or quit menu options now though, so let’s add a new button to access a context menu for those • This keeps them accessible, but out of the way • http://kck.io/3b0h2B3K2y0n
What happens when we quit the app? • All our notes are lost! • Not very good for an app that is supposedly helping us to remember things
Local storage, to a ﬁle • For very simple data storage, you can write ﬁles to the application support directory for your app • This works even on sandboxed applications delivered through the Mac App Store • http://kck.io/1E211c2H2s0P
Other storage options • Local storage, to a database • Remote storage, using a ﬁle in iCloud (could then allow syncing between devices) • Remote storage, using an API, or a PaaS providing a data storage API such as Parse
Let’s review • We’ve built an OS X application • It has a menu bar item, with a custom popup pane • It uses hotkeys to hide and show a customised ﬂoating window • We’ve looked at how to implement multiple data storage options
That’s enough of me… • …for now • That’s how to get started building Mac OS X apps, but my forthcoming book goes beyond that…
Building Mac OS X apps with RubyMotion • Goes into depth on more advanced functionality • Diﬀerent types of app windows and UI elements • Integrating with system services • Logging and error tracking • App submission and distribution options, sandboxing your app for the Mac App Store
Building Mac OS X apps with RubyMotion • Early access will be out this month • Will be about 1/3rd of the book or so • Full thing should be ﬁnished July/August • http://kickcode.com/building-mac-os-x-apps-with- rubymotion/
Q & A • Send questions or feedback to @ejdraper or @kickcode!
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