Irbtools version [travis]

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Improvements for Ruby's IRB console, like syntax highlighted output and a lot of debugging and introspection methods. Unlike with PRY, you are still in your normal IRB. It is designed to work out-of-the-box, so there is no reason to not use it!

Compatible with Ruby 2.7's new IRB


$ gem install irbtools

IRB executes code in ~/.irbrc on start-up. If the file does not exist, yet, just create a new one. Add the following content:

require 'irbtools'

You also need to add irbtools to your project's Gemfile:

gem 'irbtools', require: 'irbtools/binding'

Then start IRB (with Irbtools loaded) from the terminal or directly from your code with:


Enable More Gems

Some suggested gems will not be installed to ensure wider general support. For the full feature set, you can install irbtools-more. To do so, change your .irbrc to:

require 'irbtools/more'

and edit your Gemfile to read like this:

gem 'irbtools-more', require: 'irbtools/binding'


Irbtools' IRB Improvements

  • Syntax highlighting (wirb / fancy_irb)
  • Loads included third party libraries effeciently
  • Customizable views for specfic options using hirb
    • ActiveRecord results get displayed as a table
  • (irbtools-more) Improved tab-completion

Irbtools' Included Methods for IRB


  • Lookup and manipulate instance variables / methods with ease using object_shadow
  • (irbtools-more) Go even further with looksee, the best lookup path inspection tool out there
  • Display a method's source code using code
  • Inline access to ri docs by ori
    • If you have deactivated ri, you can re-generate the docs with something like: rvm docs generate-ri
  • Find methods that turn one value into another value with methodfinder
  • Use VIM from inside IRB

Ruby Introspection

Method / Constant Arguments Description Provided By
code object = self, method_name Display the method source with syntax highlighting. Will also look up C methods if the core_docs gem (which is included in irbtools-more) is available. code
howtocall object = self, method_or_proc Display parameter names and types you will need to call a method debugging/howtocall
mf object1, object2 Find methods which turn one value into another value methodfinder
mof object, depth = 0, grep = // Print a method list, ordered by modules (looksee lite) debugging
Object#lp (irbtools-more) Supercharged method introspection in IRB looksee
Object#ri *args Show ri documentation for this object or method ori
Object#shadow Manipulate instance variables and learn about callable methods object_shadow

Platform Info

Method / Constant Arguments Description Provided By
OS Query operating system information os
RubyVersion Show the Ruby version ruby_version
RubyEngine Show the Ruby engine ruby_engine
RubyInfo List general information about the Ruby environment ruby_info

General Utils

Method / Constant Arguments Description Provided By
beep Ring terminal bell debugging/beep
copy string Copy something to the clipboard clipboard
colorize string Syntax-highlight a string of Ruby code coderay, irbtools
ed / emacs / mate / mvim / nano / vi / vim filename = nil Start an editor in the session context interactive_editor
ld file Shortcut for load lib.to_s + '.rb' every_day_irb
pa string, color Print a string in the specified color paint
page what, options = {} Use pager to improve viewing longer content hirb, irbtools
paste Paste clipboard content clipboard
q *args Like Kernel#p, but prints results on one line, with different colors debugging/q
re string, regexg, groups = nil Regex debugging helper debugging/re
rq lib Shortcut for require lib.to_s. Use it like this: rq:prime every_day_irb
rr lib Shortcut for require_relative lib.to_s every_day_irb
rrq / rerequire lib Hack to remove a library from $LOADED_FEATURES and require it again every_day_irb
wp inspect_string Syntax-highlight a Ruby return value wirb

IRB Support

Method / Constant Arguments Description Provided By
clear Clear the terminal every_day_irb
copy_input Copy session history to the clipboard clipboard, irbtools
copy_output Copy session output history to the clipboard clipboard, irbtools
reset! Restart the current IRB session every_day_irb
session_history number_of_lines = nil Return a string of all commands issued in the current session every_day_irb

Files and Navigation

Method / Constant Arguments Description Provided By
cat path Read file contents every_day_irb
cd path = nil Change the directory. Can also be used in these forms: ~cd (change to home directory), -cd (change to previous directory) cd
chmod mode, path Set file mode for file fileutils
chmod_R mode, path Set file mode for directory fileutils
chown user, group, path Set file owner for file fileutils
chown_R user, group, path Set file owner for directory fileutils
cp source, destination Copy file fileutils
cp_r source, destination Copy directory fileutils
ls path = "." List directory content fileutils
ln target, link Create symlink (ln) fileutils
ln_s target, link Create symlink (ln -s) fileutils
ln_sf target, link Create symlink (ln -sf) fileutils
mkdir path Create a new directory fileutils
mkdir_p path Create a new directory (with -p option) fileutils
cp source, destination Move file or directory fileutils
pwd Return current directory fileutils
ray path Syntax highlight a Ruby file coderay, irbtools
rm path Delete a file (rm) fileutils
rm_r path Delete a file or directory (rm -r) fileutils
rm_rf path Delete a file or directory, with force (rm -rf) fileutils
rmdir path Delete an empty directory fileutils

Advanced Tweaking


Troubleshooting: ANSI colors on Windows

Windows: ANSI support can be enabled via ansicon or ConEmu or WSL.

Troubleshooting: Clipboard not working on Linux

Clipboard support requires xsel or xclip. On ubuntu, do:

sudo apt-get install xsel

Hint: Debundle

If you do not want to add Irbtools to your project's Gemfile, you will need a debundle hack. Put it at the beginning of your ~/.irbrc file and you are fine.

Hint: No ANSI / IRB extension

You can use Irbtools without colors/IRB extensions. To do so, put this into ~/.irbrc:

require 'irbtools/non_fancy'

Hint: Web Console and Other Approaches

Irbtools works well together with the amazing web-console!, and also with the ripl IRB alternative.


Copyright (c) 2010-2019 Jan Lelis released under the MIT license.