Many of us have had experience working with libraries that are clearly ported from another language. I usually talk about them as Ruby with a Java accent or Python with a Perl accent. Generally they work just fine but you can run into some low level friction — sometimes things just don’t feel right. Native gems written by members of the community solve this problem. In the case of gcloud-ruby there are some really concrete examples.
First, gcloud-ruby uses syntax that is similar to other popular Ruby libraries. For example, the syntax for specifying a table schema in BigQuery (Google Cloud Platform's very large scale data warehouse) looks like this:
table = dataset.create_table "baby_names" do |schema|
Creating the same table in popular Ruby on Rails looks like this:
create_table "baby_names" do |schema|
The two are nearly identical. That makes getting up to speed on BigQuery easier and quicker than it would be if the Ruby library didn't use patterns that are already known to the majority of Rubyists.
Another way the gcloud-ruby library meets the community where it is at is by embracing the community's fondness for doing things several different ways. In Ruby there are often several correct ways to do a given task.
The gcloud-ruby library is no exception. There are a few different ways to authenticate and create the objects you use to interact with the API. Ruby also has many common methods that have aliases. In the standard library Enumerable#map and Enumerable#collect actually run the same code path for example. In gcloud-ruby the vision API uses aliases. Google Cloud Vision provides a single endpoint: annotate. gcloud-ruby has an annotate method but also aliases this method as mark and detect if those make more sense to you (detect is the method that makes the most sense to my brain so that's the one I use). By providing a couple of different aliases it can mean the first thing you try is more likely to work. This speeds up development time and makes learning the library easier.
The last way the gcloud-ruby gem makes Rubyists feel at home is by having comprehensive tests, a common value and popular discussion topic for the Ruby community. gcloud-ruby uses minitest-spec for testing, a popular choice that most Rubyists can easily read. When I was learning the storage API I looked at the tests for storage to learn how to use the library. There is outstanding documentation as well for those who prefer learning that way but I'm so used to looking at tests that I really appreciated that gcloud-ruby has well written and easily accessible tests.
Above are three examples of how hand-coded libraries from within the community can improve the user experience when learning to use tools. Of course, doing all the development on GitHub in the open also helps. Users can easily see what bugs people have run into and what features are next up in the production queue. And if a user has a feature request (like the previously mentioned Cloud Vision support) they can create a GitHub issue.
If you’re a Rubyist, give gcloud-ruby a shot and let us know what you think!
By Aja Hammerly, Developer Advocate