Alex Payne is a writer based in Portland, Oregon.

since 2001, al3x.net has served as his online home.

Yet More on Cocoa Development with Ruby

Just after the Mac development love fest that was C4-[1], my interest in writing a Cocoa application was piqued. Not being an Objective-C developer (nor having any real incentive to become one), I looked around at the alternatives and saw two different options for Cocoa development with Ruby: RubyCocoa and RubyObjC. After picking the brain of Tim Burks, documenter of RubyCocoa and author of RubyObjC, I was more confused than ever about how to proceed.

Tim has since released a language called Nu, designed exclusively to build on and bridge with Objective-C. As part of his rationale for the new language Tim outlined the problems inherent in bridging Ruby and Objective-C. Phrases like “overlapping”, “inconsistent”, and “incompatible” litter the document. ’Nuff said.

Nu looks neat. I built it up from source, ran the demos, and poked at the shell. It’s got a good vibe to it. But the problem for me arises in the FAQ, in response to the hypothetical, ‘Can I use Nu without knowing Objective-C?’:

“No, at least not if you intend to use it to write Cocoa applications. In my experience, it is a mistake to think that you can use Cocoa from any higher-level language if you dont understand whats happening at the Objective-C level.”

So in order to really use Nu I need to learn Objective-C, Lisp, and Nu itself. All things I’d like to know… except, uh, Objective-C, which I was looking for an alternative to in the first place.

I understand the challenges in using a language bridge without understanding the languages on each side of that bridge. I suppose that redefines what I’m looking for: not a bridge that lets me interact with a toolkit like Cocoa, but a toolkit that supports multiple languages without having to build them from the ground up.

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Living In The Past