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Shoes 4 : the next version of Shoes

Preview Version

Hi there, thanks for checking by! Shoes 4 is in the preview stage. It currently supports almost all of the shoes DSL, but there are still some unsupported spots and known issues. We are now regularly releasing updated preview versions to rubygems, for easy installation. If you're not too adventurous just yet you can still use the old shoes!

Installing Shoes 4

There are two ways to get your hands on Shoes 4 - the preview gem release and installing it straight from github. For both you need a current JRuby installation.

Get a JDK and JRuby

So your first step is to install a JDK (shoes also works with OpenJDK) and JRuby. Make sure to grab the appropriate JRuby version for your operating system. On Linux/Mac you can also use ruby installation tools to install JRuby. For instance rvm:

$ rvm install jruby

JDK version note: While Shoes 4 should generally work with JDK version 6 and up we recommend to use newer version. Also within the JDK major version make sure to have the latest updates installed, we had cases where newer versions resolved bugs.

SWT requirement: Be aware that Shoes 4 builds on SWT for its default backend. That is usually no concern (other than the need for JRuby/JDK, described above) as you do not have to install SWT yourself. However, that means we have the same basic system requirements SWT does. For Linux that means you need GTK+ >= 2.10 or >= 3.0 if you like. Moreover, as of now there is no ARM support (as the Raspberry Pi would need).

Installing Shoes 4 as a gem

*nix (Mac OSX/Linux)

$ gem install shoes --pre


C:\tmp> jruby -S gem install shoes --pre

Installing Shoes 4 from github

If you want to be on the bleeding edge or want to contribute code you need to install it straight from the github repository.

*nix (Mac OSX/Linux)

  1. Fork the repository and clone your fork, or

    $ git clone git://
  2. Set up your local environment

    $ cd shoes4
    $ gem install bundler && bundle install

    Note: If you got rvm, rbenv or something like that installed it might complain that you should use jruby version xx. That's because we keep our .ruby-version files up to date. You should be able to run it with a JRuby version >= 1.7.0. We recommend up to date versions though.

  3. You're ready to go!


  1. Fork the repository and clone your fork, or

    C:\tmp> git clone git://
  2. Set up your local environment

    C:\tmp>cd shoes4
    C:\tmp\shoes4>jruby -S gem install bundler
    C:\tmp\shoes4>jruby -S bundle install
  3. You're ready to go!

Running a Shoes App

Shoes 4 comes with a command-line app runner. Just pass it the filename of your Shoes app.

$ bin/shoes samples/simple-sound.rb

Note: For Windows, C:\tmp\shoes4>bin\shoes samples\simple-sound.rb If you installed Shoes 4 as a gem, just do C:\tmp> shoes path\to\file.rb

There is also a simple ruby starter script when using the SWT backend which you may use as follows:

$ bin/shoes-swt samples/simple-sound.rb

This does not work yet on Mac as JRuby (the JVM) needs some additional parameters. Here you can just do the following (which basically is what bin/shoes does):

$ jruby -J-XstartOnFirstThread bin/shoes-swt samples/simple-sound.rb

Another alternative yet is to put require 'shoes' at the top of your applications, then you can simply do

$ jruby path/to/file.rb

On OS X you still need to supply the additional parameters to JRuby

$ jruby -J-XstartOnFirstThread path/to/file.rb

Want to see what shoes can do?

You can run rake samples and random samples we believe are working will be run until you quit with Ctr + C. Some of them are really simple, while others are more complex or even games! If you notice any issue with those samples please let us know!

By setting the SHOES_USE_INSTALLED environment variable to true, you can also use your installed version of shoes (shoes command) to run the samples instead of the local bin/shoes.

Packaging a Shoes App

Packaging is just a baby, so be gentle.

In order to package an app, you need to have the Shoes gem installed in your environment. If you didn't do the gem installation you can always generate a gem and install it from the current source:

$ rake install:all

Now, you can package an app. But first, look here:

  • The packager will include everything in the directory of your shoes script and below, unless you tell it not to.
  • The packager will probably not work properly if it detects a .gemspec or a Gemfile. It uses Warbler, which always looks for those files. If you run the specs, you may notice some warnings like this:

warning: Bundler `path' components are not currently supported. The `shoes-4.0.0.pre1' component was not bundled. Your application may fail to boot!

That's Warbler talking. Actually, we sneak the Shoes gem in anyway, but don't tell.

Okay, now for real. The simplest thing is to put your script in a directory by itself and then:

$ bin/shoes -p swt:app path/to/directory-of/your-shoes-app.rb

This will produce a Mac app, which you can then find at path/to/directory-of/pkg/Shoes

You can also package a shoes app up as a jar through:

$ bin/shoes -p swt:jar path/to/directory-of/your-shoes-app.rb

You can find the jar in the same directory as above, i.e. path/to/directory-of/pkg/your-shoes-app.jar

If you want more control (like you want to name your app something besides "Shoes App", or you don't want to include all of those files we talked about before), make an app.yaml file. See the example for more details.

Note: If you use an app.yaml, you will have to customize or comment out each option. The example is just an example ;)

When you have an app.yaml file right next to your script, you have three options:

$ bin/shoes -p swt:app path/to/directory-of/your-shoes-app.rb
$ bin/shoes -p swt:app path/to/directory-of/app.yaml
$ bin/shoes -p swt:app path/to/directory-of

The packager will find your instructions using any of those commands. Again, you'll find your app in the pkg directory inside your project's directory. Find out more at bin/shoes --help.

Oh, and you can also just run your Shoes apps with bin/shoes.

Want to contribute?

That's awesome, thank you!

You can go ahead an try to fix one of our issues. We have introduced a new tag 'Newcomer Friendly' for issues we believe are suitable to get started with shoes contributing. These issues either are relatively easy to accomplish or don't depend on a lot of other shoes code (e.g. completely new features) so that it's easier to get started. Please feel free to tackle any issue - we will help you if needed. The tag is just a suggestion! =)

Also there is a list of samples that already work at samples/README, along with all the other samples. You can try to get a new sample to run. In order to do so you can run rake non_samples to run a random sample we think does not work. If you just want to list the non working samples you can also run rake list_non_samples.

With all you do, please make sure to write specs as Shoes 4 is developed TDD-style (see the Running Specs section below). So make sure that you don't break any tests :-)

If you feel unsure about testing or your implementation just open an issue or a pull request. Pull requests don't need to be done - they are great discussion starters! We're happy to help you get your contribution ready to be merged in order to help build Shoes 4!

In fact we greatly appreciate early pull requests to review code and help you find your way around Shoes 4! =)

If you have questions, also feel free to drop by on the #shoes channel on FreeNode irc. People might not respond instantly, but after some time someone will respond :-)

It sometimes is also a good way to refactor some code or write some specs in order to get familiar with a project. If you want to try this approach you can have a look at our Code Climate to find candidates for refactoring or after running the specs locally take a peak into the coverage directory and open index.html - it shows you our current coverage data. See something that isn't covered and maybe you can write a spec for it?

Refer to the following section for information on how to run the specs, that were mentioned before :-)

Running Specs

Shoes 4 is developed in a TDD style. You should be writing and running the specs :)

There are two kinds of Shoes 4 specs:

  1. Integration specs: These specify the functionality of the Shoes DSL. They can be run with any compatible Shoes backend. Shoes 4 comes with a mock backend and an Swt backend that can run the integration specs.

  2. Isolation specs: These specify the internal behavior of a Shoes backend, in isolation from the DSL. Shoes 4 comes with an isolation spec suite for the Swt backend.

There are rake tasks for running specs. Some examples (run rake --tasks to see a more complete list):

$ rake spec                      # Run the whole spec suite
$ rake spec:shoes                # Run integration specs using the mock backend
$ rake spec:swt                  # Run integration specs using the Swt backend, plus isolation specs for the Swt backend
$ rake spec:swt:isolation        # Run isolation specs for the Swt backend
$ rake spec:swt:integration      # Run integration specs using the Swt backend
$ rake spec[Shape]               # Run the whole spec suite, but only for Shape
$ rake spec:shoes[Shape]         # Run integration specs for Shape using the mock backend
$ rake spec:swt[Shape]           # Run integration and isolation specs for Shape, using the Swt backend
$ rake spec:swt:isolation[Shape] # Run isolation specs for Shape using the Swt backend

Note: For Windows, C:\tmp\shoes4>jruby -S rake spec

Sometimes you only want to run specs from individual files rather than entire suites. You can run individual specs from the project root directory like this:

$ rspec shoes-swt/spec/shoes/swt/app_spec.rb

If you're on OS X and you are running specs that require SWT, you will have to set the JRUBY_OPTS environment variable first:

$ export JRUBY_OPTS=-J-XstartOnFirstThread
$ rspec shoes-swt/spec/shoes/swt/app_spec.rb

or set JRUBY_OPTS directly on the command line:

$ JRUBY_OPTS=-J-XstartOnFirstThread rspec shoes-swt/spec/shoes/swt/app_spec.rb


Want to get in touch with the shoes community? That's great! You can get in touch here:

  • You can join the mailing list, simply send an email to - you can also check out the archives
  • We also have an irc channel #shoes on freenode - a lot of people are idling there so it might take some time to react

However we try to keep most discussions about the development in this repository/its issues so everyone can see them and look them up.