$Id: README,v 1.14 2006/06/19 09:43:58 t-peters Exp $


This directory contains a ruby module for accessing the FSF's ncurses library. (C) 2002, 2003, 2004 Tobias Peters <t-peters@users.berlios.de> (C) 2004 Simon Kaczor <skaczor@cox.net> (C) 2005 2006 Tobias Herzke <t-peters@users.berlios.de>

This module is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This module is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Lesser General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Lesser General Public License along with this module; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA


Overview

This README file explains how to use the ncurses ruby interface. It is assumed that the reader has a rough understanding of what the ncurses library is and how to use it from the C language. It then goes into detail, explaining what is covered by the ruby interface, and the rules that were followed in translating the C interface into a ruby interface.

This ncurses interface provides access to the functions, macros, global variables and constants of the ncurses library. These are mapped to a Ruby Module named “Ncurses”: Functions and external variables are implemented as singleton functions of the Module Ncurses.

This README is organized into the following parts:

  • Overview

  • Installation and Usage

  • External Variables

  • Constants

  • Functions (and their Interfaces)

  • Module / Class Hierarchie

  • The WINDOW class

  • The panel Library

  • The form Library

  • The menu Library

  • Ncurses and Ruby Threads

  • Example programs

  • Applications using ncurses-ruby

General Ncurses Literature


If you don't know how to use ncurses from C, then please read an introduction to ncurses before continuing with this README. Eric Raymond has written an introduction that should be part of the ncurses development package installed on your computer. If you'd like a gentler introduction, then you have two options: (1) there is a part of a chapter in “The Linux Programmer's Guide” dealing

with ncurses, available from www.tldp.org.  It is quite old by now,
but the ncurses interface has not changed since then, regarding the
scope of covered functions, so it is still a very good read.

(2) There is also an up-to-date “NCURSES-Programming-HOWTO” in the HOWTO

collection of the Linux Documentation Project, also available at
www.tldp.org, which is worth a read.

You will also appreciate the extensive man-pages of ncurses, a useful reference while coding.

Installation and Usage

ruby extconf.rb make make install

In your programs: require “ncurses.rb”

If your programs use the scanw functions (most unlikely) you will have to install the scanf library for ruby (www.rubyhacker.com/code/scanf).

Most ncurses functions are only available after either Ncurses.initscr or Ncurses.newterm has returned successfully.

External Variables

External variables are accessed read-only, by module functions taking no arguments. They are spelled exactly like their C counterparts. Sometimes, this leads to module functions beginning with an uppercase letter (e.g. Ncurses.LINES).

One of these external variables, ESCDELAY, is also settable with a ruby method (Ncurses.ESCDELAY=).

Another external variable, Ncurses.RESIZEDELAY is introduced by this wrapper. It contains the maximum milliseconds delay with which terminal resizesings are recognized.

Constants

(static C Preprocessor macros)

Constants are implemented as module constants in the Ncurses module, if possible. Ruby constants can not start with an underscore, so these constants have been renamed (they lost the leading underscore). There are,however, module functions with the same name as these constants, that also return the constant's value, when invoked (e.g. “Ncurses._ENDLINE” returns the value of the constant “Ncurses::ENDLINE”, which has the same value as the C constant “_ENDLINE”).

Note: The ncurses macros starting with ACS_ are not constants, their value depends on the terminal in use. Nevertheless, they are implemented as constants of the Ncurses module, but since they depend on the terminal, they are not initialized before initscr() has been called. If you need more than one terminal in a single program, you can access the ACS_ values through member functions of class SCREEN.

Functions (and their Interfaces)

Functions (also those only implemented by macros in C) can be accessed as module functions of the Module Ncurses. They take exactly the same arguments as their C counterparts. Some of the C functions return additional arguments through pointer arguments. These are implemented as follows:

Functions expecting pointers to integer types


When the C-function expects a pointer to int, short, chtype, or attr_type, You should use a variable containing an empty array as the argument to the ruby function. This is because ruby passes these types (ints) “by value” instead of “by reference”; but arrays are passed by reference, so that you can see the changes to them. Attention: some macro-only functions like getsyx accept variables of type int, but, being macros, they write values to their arguments. Thus, they also need empty array arguments when called from ruby. Example: color_pair_number = 4 foreground_color = [] background_color = [] if (Ncurses.pair_content(color_pair_number, foreground_color, background_color) != Ncurses::ERR) “color pair number #color_pair_number contains color number ” + “#http://0 as the foreground color, and color ” + “number #http://0 as the background color”) end

There are 2 functions that read a value from the location pointed to by a pointer to int, and store another value at those locations. These functions are mouse_trafo and wmouse_trafo. When calling these functions, you have to provide 2 arrays, each filled with exacly one Integer. The values contained in these arrays will then be changed by the ruby module function.

Functions expecting (non-const) pointers to char


When the C-function expects a pointer to char, you should use a variable containing an empty string as the argument to the ruby function. Example: line2 = “” if (Ncurses.mvwinnstr(Ncurses.stdscr, y=2, x=0, line2, Ncurses.getmaxx(Ncurses.stdscr)) == Ncurses::ERR) raise “could not scan 3rd line” else Ncurses.beep if line2.index(“|”) end The string that the C function would store at the pointer-to-char location will be appended to the given string.

Functions expecting const pointers to char do not modify the string they receive, you can pass any string to them.

Functions expecting pointers to structs


When the C-function expects a pointer to WINDOW, SCREEN, MEVENT, PANEL, FORM, FIELD or FIELDTYPE then simply pass it the corresponding, already existing ruby object.

scanf style functions expecting various pointers


namely scanw, mvscanw, wscanw, mvwscanw. Use an array after the format string. The scanned values will be placed there. Remember, you need scanf for ruby installed for these functions to work.

Module / Class Hierarchie

module Ncurses class WINDOW; end class SCREEN; end class MEVENT; end module Panel class PANEL; end end module Form class FORM; end class FIELD; end class FIELDTYPE; end end module Menu class MENU; end class ITEM; end end end

The WINDOW class

The class WINDOW implements method_missing and tries to map invoked methods to Ncurses module functions using a simple heuristic:

If the method name starts with “mv”, it looks for a Ncurses module function that starts with “mvw”, and if it exists, adds itself to the argument list and calls this function. If no such module function exists, or the name of the invoked method does not start with “mv”, it looks if there is a module function with the name “w” + methodname, and if it exists, adds itself again to the argument list and calls this function. If this module function did not exist either, then, as a last step, it invokes a module function with the same name as the method, adding itself to the argument list.

Example: If you invoke win.mvaddch(y,x,ch) on an Ncurses::WINDOW object, it will delegate the method call to Ncurses.mvwaddch(win,y,x,ch).

Other examples:

win.printw("hello") =>  Ncurses.wprintw(win, "hello")

win.getmaxyx(y=[],
             x=[])  =>  Ncurses.getmaxyx(win,y,x)

win.delwin()        =>  Ncurses.delwin(win)          # win cannot be used
                                                     # after this call

The panel Library

The panel library has also been wrapped. All panel functions are implemented as module functions of the module Ncurses::Panel.

Most of these functions are also implemented as methods of class Ncurses::Panel::PANEL, once with their original name and once with the subword “panel” and an adjacent underscore removed.

The form Library

The form library was wrapped inside the Ncurses:Form module. All form functions are implemented as module functions on the module Ncurses::Form. In addition, all function for which the first parameter is one of the objects are also implemented as an instance method of the respective class. For example, instead of calling post_form(form), you can use form.post_form().

Three objects are defined in the Ncurses:Form module: 1. FORM 2. FIELD 3. FIELDTYPE

They are wrapping actual ncurses pointers and should be use whenever a pointer to one of these types is expected in function calls.

All form constants are defined in the module as Ruby constants with the same name as the curses constants.

Constructors for FORM, FIELD and FIELDTYPE objects are also provided, and they expect the same parameters as new_form, new_field and new_fieldtype curses functions.

Field validation is implemented using Ruby Proc objects. You must provide a Ruby block whenever a function pointer is expected in curses function arguments. See the example form2.rb for more details.

The functions form_userptr and field_userptr are not supported. Use form.user_object and field.user_object to store Ruby objects instead.

The menu Library

The menu library was wrapped inside the Ncurses:Menu module. All menu functions are implemented as module functions in the module Ncurses::Menu. In addition, all functions for which the first parameter is one of the objects are also implemented as an instance method of the respective class. For example, instead of calling post_menu(menu), you can use menu.post_menu().

Two objects are defined in the Ncurses:Menu module: 1. MENU 2. ITEM

They are wrapping actual ncurses pointers and should be use whenever a pointer to one of these types is expected in function calls.

All menu constants are defined in the module as Ruby constants with the same name as the curses constants.

Constructors for MENU and ITEM objects are also provided, and they expect the same parameters as new_menu and new_item curses functions.

You must provide a Ruby block whenever a function pointer is expected in curses function arguments.

The functions menu_userptr and item_userptr are not supported. Use menu.user_object and item.user_object to store Ruby objects instead.

Ncurses and Ruby Threads

The ncurses library is not thread-safe. Your application must properly serialize calls into ncurses.

Prior to release 0.9.2, the getch and wgetch calls used to block the complete ruby interpreter, all threads. This is no longer so. Other threads should now continue to run during blocking calls to getch and wgetch.

Example programs

Directory “examples” contains a few example programs demonstrating how to use the ncurses library with ruby. Be sure to read the file “examples/LICENSES_for_examples”.

Applications using ncurses-ruby

aeditor (v. 0.x) - Pair programming editor, metaeditor.sourceforge.net/ raggle - RSS aggregator, www.raggle.org/about/ ruvi - Editor, ruvi.rubyforge.org/ tpp - text-based presentation program, synflood.at/tpp/ yapo - ports overview for CRUX linux distribution, jue.li/crux/yapo/