ruby-vips : A fast image processing extension for Ruby.

note: this fork aims to track the latest stable vips. There are no plans to add more features, just to keep it working.

ruby-vips is a ruby extension for vips. It is extremely fast and it can process huge images without requiring the entire image to be loaded into memory.

ruby-vips allows you to set up pipelines that don't get executed until you output the image to disk or to a string. This means you can create, manipulate, and pass around Image objects without incurring any memory or CPU costs. The image is not actually processed until you write the image to memory or to disk.


  • OS X or Linux
  • MRI 1.8.6, 1.8.7, 1.9.2 or Rubinius 1.0.1
  • libvips 7.12.x, 7.20.x, 7.22.x, or 7.23.x


Ubuntu Prerequisites.

$ apt-get install libvips-dev

The above installs libvips 7.20.x in Ubuntu 10.04 and 7.12.x in Ubuntu 8.04. Though ruby-vips will work with libvips 7.12.x, many features are disabled, and there are a few caveats.

OS X Prerequisites.

$ brew install vips -HEAD

The above installs libvips 7.22.x

TODO: Describe & test with macports.

Installing the gem.

$ gem install ruby-vips

or include it in Gemfile:

gem 'ruby-vips'


ruby-vips has rdoc documentation.


require 'rubygems'
require 'vips'
include VIPS

# Create an image object. It will not actually load the image until needed.
im = Image.jpeg('mypic.jpg')

# Shrink the jpeg by a factor of four when loading -- huge speed and CPU
# improvements on large images.
im = Image.jpeg('mypic.jpg', :shrink_factor => 4)

# Add a shrink by a factor of two to the pipeline. This will not actually be
# executed yet.
im_shrink_by_two = im.shrink(2)

# Write out the shrunk image to a PNG file. This is where the image is
# actually loaded and resized. With images that allow for random access from
# the hard drive (VIPS native format, tiled OpenEXR, ppm/pbm/pgm/pfm, tiled
# tiff, and RAW images), the entire image is never read into memory.
im_shrink_by_two.png('out.png', :interlace => true)

# All ruby-vips image commands can be chained, so the above sequence could
# be written as:
Image.jpeg('mypic.jpg', :shrink_factor => 4).shrink(2).png('out.png')

# The statement above will load the jpeg (pre-shrunk by a factor of four),
# shrink the image again by a factor of two, and then save as a png image.

# If you want to let vips determine file formats, you can use the generic
# reader and writer:'mypic.jpg').shrink(2).write('out.png')

Why use ruby-vips?

  • It supports over 250 low-level image and color manipulation operations.
  • Operations are chainable, and do not get executed until the image is sent to an output.
  • Fastest ruby library for resizing large images. See benchmarks at the official libvips website.