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From Noah Tilton <>
Subject Re: ODF Command Line Tools -- Request for community feedback
Date Sat, 18 Aug 2012 13:25:19 GMT
On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 8:20 PM, Rob Weir <> wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 2:01 PM, Noah Tilton <> wrote:
>> Rob,
>> Quick update:  I renamed the project to something shorter and catchier:
> Hey, I like that!   Was that a lucky accident?

Yes indeed.  The name occurred to me earlier this Summer and I was
waiting to think if anything else would come into my head ... but
nothing did.

>> Also, here is the documentation, which describes in detail how to use
>> the (cross-platform) executable jar:
>> Please check out the docs and let me know if anything doesn't work as expected.
> I've downloaded and am playing with the examples on Ubuntu.  So far so
> good.  The one thing I noticed is not example for creating a
> spreadsheet.  A spreadsheet is just a table, so nothing conceptually
> different, in the basic case.

Great!  I have added code to the library which will allow you to do
spreadsheet generation and read/write access using ruby's array
syntax.  See examples/spreadsheet.rb

> -Rob
>> Thanks!
>> -Noah
>> On Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 8:39 PM, Noah Tilton <> wrote:
>>> Hi Rob,
>>> New code is up at github.  This update brings a more ruby-esque
>>> (idiomatic) syntax to the DSL, as well as better coverage of Text
>>> documents, Presentations, Lists, and Tables.  I have also added
>>> documentation to about 80% of the code.
>>> Remaining todos:  1) work out additional docs and any needed function
>>> stubs 2) cross-platform installer.  I think you will agree that the
>>> code is easily extendable as it stands.
>>> Paradoxically, bundling jruby/java jar codes together has proven to be
>>> the hard part, so I will focus on making it cross-platform in the next
>>> week.
>>> Please take a look and let me know your thoughts.
>>> Thanks!
>>> -Noah
>>> On Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Noah Tilton <> wrote:
>>>> Hi Rob,
>>>> On Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 8:17 AM, Rob Weir <> wrote:
>>>>> On Sun, Jul 1, 2012 at 5:30 PM, Noah Tilton <>
>>>>>> Hi Rob,
>>>>>> I just pushed to Github, please see below for an explanation of the
>>>>>> changes and some questions regarding next steps.
>>>>> Great.  I downloaded and gave it a try.  Looks good.
>>>>>> On Sun, Jun 3, 2012 at 12:47 PM, Rob Weir <>
>>>>>>> OK.  Thanks for trying.  Maven is great for managing Java project
>>>>>>> dependencies.  Well, at least for pure Java projects targeting
>>>>>>> standard Java outputs like JAR's, WAR's, EAR's, etc.  But the
>>>>>>> Java/JRuby combination may be more complicated.
>>>>>>> I'm using Ubuntu 11.04 with bash.  It isn't liking parts of that
>>>>>>> script.   But I was able to modify it as follows and it worked
>>>>>>> #!/bin/sh
>>>>>>> if [ ! -d ./jars ]; then
>>>>>>>   echo "Downloading jars"
>>>>>>>   mkdir -p ./jars
>>>>>>>   cd jars
>>>>>>>   wget\
>>>>>>>   for targz in *.tar.gz; do
>>>>>>>     echo "Extracting $targz"
>>>>>>>     tar zxf $targz
>>>>>>>   done
>>>>>>>   cd ..
>>>>>>> fi
>>>>>>> echo "Running test"
>>>>>>> JAVA_HOME="$(dirname $(dirname $(readlink -f $(which java))))"
>>>>>>> echo "set JAVA_HOME to $JAVA_HOME"
>>>>>>> CLASSPATH=./jars/xerces-2_11_0/xercesImpl.jar:./jars/xerces-2_11_0/xml-apis.jar:./jars/odftoolkit-0.5-incubating/simple-odf-0.7-incubating.jar:./jars/odftoolkit-0.5-incubating/odfdom-java-0.8.8-incubating.jar
>>>>>>> export CLASSPATH
>>>>>>> jruby lib/oclt.rb
>>>>>> I incorporated your portability changes to, and renamed it
>>>>>>, to reflect the fact that it doesn't actually run the code
>>>>>> it merely downloads jars and sets environment variables.  To run
>>>>>> code from the odf-command-line-tools directory, type:
>>>>>>   source ./setup && jruby main.rb
>>>>>> "source" is necessary because the script needs to export shell
>>>>>> variables in the parent shell (i.e., not a subshell).
>>>>>> If you want to use rdoc to build the documentation you may need to
>>>>>>   % jruby -S gem install rdoc
>>>>>> before running
>>>>>>   % rdoc --main *
>>>>>> from the top level directory (odf-command-line-tools).
>>>>>>> Two things: build env and runtime env.  For runtime env we should
>>>>>>> cross platform, right?  For bulld env, cross platform is ideal,
but I
>>>>>>> would not get bogged down on that.  Linux is fine.
>>>>>> Yes, Linux for build only; runtime will be cross-platform.  Added
>>>>>>> I'm looking forward to seeing more on the DSL.
>>>>>> The initial version of the DSL has support for generating new Text
>>>>>> documents;  loading modifying existing Text documents, iterating
>>>>>> Paragraphs, changing mode and font attributes of new Paragraphs ...
>>>>>> This first version should give you a flavor of what the DSL might
>>>>>> eventually look like, and I hope it is general enough that we can
>>>>>> easily add other document types (e.g., Presentation).
>>>>>> It's made up of 2 parts:  the DSL proper (lib/oclt.rb) and a client
>>>>>> script (main.rb).
>>>>>> Assuming you're okay with what I've done so far, I'd like the
>>>>>> discussion to focus on how the mapping of DSL methods => SimpleAPI
>>>>>> methods should look.  A 1-1 mapping works "out of the box" with the
>>>>>> way the DSL is currently written.  I.e., any SimpleAPI TextDocument
>>>>>> method can now be called from the DSL, and will work.
>>>>> I noticed that. I had not taken a close look at Ruby before, but I'm
>>>>> impressed by how that kind of dispatch can be set up with only a
>>>>> little code.
>>>> I like it too!
>>>>>> So if we don't want to change the interface/API, all that's left
to do
>>>>>> is write documentation and more examples.  But that won't provide
>>>>>> of an improvement over the original Java API, only those benefits
>>>>>> which Ruby provides at the most basic level before any "sugar" is
>>>>>> applied.  In other words, while a 1-1 mapping works, it leads to
>>>>>> unnecessary initialization, overall verbosity, and (IMHO) is exactly
>>>>>> what a good DSL should seek to avoid!
>>>>> Right.  So is your goal to make this me more "idiomatic" Ruby?  Or to
>>>>> create a DSL that is either Ruby nor Simple API, but something more
>>>>> oriented to text processing?
>>>> Yes, idiomatic Ruby is the way to go.  I'd go one step further and say
>>>> "idiomatic Ruby DSL-esque".  There are many good examples, Rake and
>>>> Buildr come to mind.  This still leaves us a lot of freedom to tweak.
>>>>> When we were designing the Simply API we tried to make it as easy and
>>>>> intuitive as possible, within the constraints of Java, and using an
>>>>> imperative programming style.
>>>>> One idea I had last night -- what if we inverted the problem?  Instead
>>>>> of a command line script running against the document, what if we put
>>>>> the script *inside* the document?   Does that help with any kinds of
>>>>> repetitive tasks, document automation, etc.?  Now the mere location of
>>>>> the script doesn't matter.  But a side benefit is that a script inside
>>>>> the document, inline in the text of a document, has a context that the
>>>>> user defines naturally via their word processor:
>>>>> "This confirms your order for %widget_count% widget(s)."
>>>>> This is then processed by a command line took that evaluates
>>>>> widget-count as a Ruby routine.  Or we want to avoid the user writing
>>>>> code, what if we ultra-simplified it?  For example, a document
>>>>> template that had some named styles that expressed both
>>>>> appearance/presentation as well as behaviour.  Trivial example:  a
>>>>> list style called "Sorted List".  No word process has this, to my
>>>>> knowledge.  But we could have that defined as a style.  When the user
>>>>> applies it, nothing magic occurs.  But later, on the command line, the
>>>>> document is processed by an app that applies the behaviours implied by
>>>>> the styles, and writes out a new document.   One could do very simple,
>>>>> single-step operations that way.  But is there a way to build up more
>>>>> complicated scenarios like this?   In other words, what helps enable
>>>>> the power-user, scripter type to get some benefit of document
>>>>> automation?
>>>> I think this idea could work.  And it's consistent with the codebase
>>>> we already have.  We could define some tags and a parser that would
>>>> call out to the jruby routines in the lib/oclt.rb file (that's just a
>>>> sketch, but I think it works).  I can see a couple of problems with
>>>> this approach, however.  First is tight coupling -- do we really want
>>>> the business logic inline with an XML document describing the
>>>> structure?  Second is, how does something like this jive with the ODF
>>>> standard?  It seems like embedding a bunch of tags into the document
>>>> might mess that up.
>>>>>> As a next step, I propose creating a more concise set of keywords
>>>>>> the TextDocument API, and working from there.  I'm hoping we can
>>>>>> iterate very fast now that there is a working version.  If we can
>>>>>> up with (or better yet, find) some conventions for how to map a
>>>>>> standard API to a DSL, I can use that and hit the list when I have
>>>>>> specific questions.
>>>>>> For an example of what I'm talking about, do we really need to say
>>>>>> "set_horizontal_alignment(HorizontalAlignmentType)" or will "center"
>>>>>> suffice?  Should that really be done instead as a parameter in
>>>>>> add_paragraph()?  (e.g., doc.add_paragraph(:alignment => :center)).
>>>>>> Should we let it work both ways for flexibility
>>>>> Right.
>>>>>> At the same time, we don't want to take the sugar too far -- the
>>>>>> interface should be logical to end users without being too "cute".
>>>>>> couple of examples of things I changed/added are:
>>>>>>   page_break instead of add_page_break; paragraphs as a new iterable
>>>>> Right.  All else being equal, it is best to be idiomatic Ruby.
>>>>> Another question: Are there any other Ruby libraries that it would
>>>>> make sense to bring in to the mix?  For example, any that are text or
>>>>> language related, or even NLP?  Google Translate interface?  Stuff
>>>>> like that that would radically extend the capabilities with little
>>>>> incremental coding on your part.
>>>> The code is an internal DSL whose host language is jRuby.  Therefore,
>>>> any C Ruby code can be used -- just require a Gem, external library,
>>>> or part of the standard library.  And because it's jRuby, Java
>>>> libraries and core are fair game, and really anything that can be
>>>> compiled into Java bytecode should work.  Very flexible.
>>>>>> The heavy lifting in the code is currently being done in the file
>>>>>> lib/oclt.rb, specifically the method_missing call.  Inside I have
>>>>>> logic that tests whether a certain method exists at runtime, and
if it
>>>>>> does, delegates appropriately.  If the method doesn't exist the
>>>>>> program bombs out, but there's no reason not to make it do something
>>>>>> more intelligent, like search the SimpleAPI for a method which is
>>>>>> similar to or begins with the given method name, and then perhaps
>>>>>> the user an informative error message.
>>>>>> More formally, I think the code as written is (loosely) an
>>>>>> implementation of the Adapter pattern
>>>>>> ( but using open classes
>>>>>> rather than an explicit adapter class.  In ruby this can be done
>>>>>> number of ways, I was going for brevity.
>>>>>> I invite your feedback, and the rest of the community too.  Thanks
>>>>>> enjoy the 4th!
>>>>>> --
>>>>>> Noah
>>>> I'm going to keep hacking on the DSL in the main branch, and work out
>>>> a more idiomatic syntax and more examples.  I'll aim for 100% Simple
>>>> API coverage (in terms of idiomatic functionality but with a more
>>>> idiomatic API; although the Simple API calls will still be available).
>>>>  In addition, I will create a separate branch for your "embedded tags"
>>>> idea and see how it looks.  I've got a dead laptop at home, but I'll
>>>> try to get you something by the end of the week.
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> --
>>>> Noah
>>> --
>>> Noah
>> --
>> Noah


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