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An everyday build tool that does the heavy lifting for you.
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Genius: the intelligent build tool

Genius is used to compile arbitrary code using a standardized command structure.


I could come up with a lot of contrived reasons for this, but mostly, I use the same build commands a lot, and I don't want to type those more than necessary. I could use a standardized makefile or something of the sort, but that's more work than just typing a single command.

Genius can also be built on top of other build tools, similar to make, so it has all the power, without most of the hassle.

Wait, what is this .rh file?

.rh is the standard extension for Rash, a command line scripting language built on top of Ruby. The source can be found here, along with the wiki describing how to use it.

Basically, it's Ruby, and it has all of the power that provides, but you can use it as a convenient interactive command shell and call executables like methods. There are also human-friendly forms of standard shell functionality, like I/O redirection and pipelining.


Genius looks for text files in the ~/.genius directory. These files can contain two different kinds of build specifications: groups and tools. Both kinds of build specs are Rash scripts using the Genius DSL.

Each build spec has a block of commands that provides a hash containing relevant files. Build groups give all relevant files, specified by the provided extensions, and build tools give all files with extensions.

Build Groups

Build groups generally execute the most basic kinds of compilation, where it only depends on file contents, and not strictly the filenames themselves, like C/C++ or Java compilation.

You can register a build group with Genius by calling Genius.register_group, and providing a name for the group, the extensions it should consider, and a block specifying the commands to run if that group is selected.

A build group is selected when it contains more files with its extensions than any other build group, and no build tool applies to the current directory. For example, take a project tree that contains C++ and markdown files, with build groups registered for both. Genius will count the number of files relevant to both, then choose the one that has a higher count, probably C++.

Build Tools

Build tools are generally useful for when there is a specific tool that is better at compiling the current project than a general build group can accomplish. The trivial example is make, but it can also be used for something like rubygems projects.

You can register a build group with Genius by calling Genius.register_build_tool, and providing a name for the group, the file patterns it should look for, and a block specifying the commands to run if that group is selected.

File patterns used in build tools use bash-like globbing. If any files in the current directory match any of the patterns of a build tool, that tool is selected, and no more are considered. If there is overlap between build tools, the first registered is used. This is probably resolved alphabetically by source file name, though that isn't guaranteed.


Note that each of these are implied to be in separate files, but that isn't strictly necessary. You can find versions of these and further examples in the examples folder above (these are not included in the gem).


Genius.register_group("Go", "go") do |files|
  go :build  # files not necessary here, since Go handles this automatically.


Genius.register_group("C++", "cpp", "hpp", "h") do |files|
  # `cmd` is how Rash calls commands with Ruby-identifier incompatible characters
  cmd("g++", files.values_at("cpp", "hpp"))


Looks for "makefile" or "Makefile". Note that a regexp will not work.

Genius.register_build_tool("make", "makefile", "Makefile") do |files|
  make  # It's that simple


Looks for any file with the gempsec extension. Builds the project, then locally installs the generated gem file.

# Note the globbing operator used for a filename
Genius.register_build_tool("gem", "*.gemspec") do |files|
  # You need to call system directly because `gem` is a pseudo-builtin, 
  # which messes with Rash.
  if system("gem", "build", files["gemspec"].first)
    system("gem", "install", Dir["*.gem"].sort.last) # sort to ensure most recent last, if multiple.