Traditional Ruby Programming

Before version 0.21 and the development IDE, Ruby scripts had to be prepared externally and KLayout had to be restarted to use them. In addition, binding a script to a menu entry required some coding. This method still is supported for version 0.22, hence it is described here. It is provided for backward compatibility and because KLayout can be used as a standalone engine for RBA scripts without a user interface.

Using RBA scripts

To use RBA, the script location must be passed to KLayout using the "-r" option (in this example "hello_world.rb"):

klayout -r hello_world.rb

If used this way, all RBA functionality must be put into one script. Usually, this script will provide all the classes and definitions required and register new menu items and handlers.

Basic RBA

The ruby script given with the "-r" option is executed before the actual application is started. In fact, the application execution is initiated by the script, if one is given. In order to make the application start, the ruby script must contain at least this statement:

RBA::Application.instance.exec

"RBA" is the module provided by KLayout. "Application" is the main controller class (a singleton) that refers to the application as a whole. It provides the "exec" method which runs the application and returns if the main window is closed.

In most cases, the script will perform initialization steps before calling "exec" and may do cleanup once the application returned. Initialization may involve loading of layouts, registering menu items, initializing other resources etc. However, the "exec" call can be omitted and then KLayout acts as a pure interpreter for the script.

In larger applications however, source code is usually organised into libraries and a main code part. Libraries and supplementary code can be loaded prior to the loading of the main source with the "-rm" option. Files loaded with this option do not need to (and in fact must not) contain the "RBA::Application.instance.exec" call. This allows providing independent libraries and initialisation code to a RBA script environment:

klayout -rm setup1.rb -rm setup2.rb -r hello_world.rb

RBA code can be installed globally by creating a file with suffix ".rbm" in the same directory than the KLayout binary. If such files are encountered, they will be executed automatically before all files specified with "-rm" and "-r" are read.

A simple example

This example script registers a new menu item in the toolbar, which displays a message box saying "Hello, world!" when selected, and runs the application:

  class MenuHandler < RBA::Action
    def triggered 
      RBA::MessageBox::info( "Info", "Hello, world!", RBA::MessageBox::b_ok )
    end
  end

  app = RBA::Application.instance

  $menu_handler = MenuHandler.new
  $menu_handler.title = "RBA test"

  menu = app.main_window.menu
  menu.insert_item("@toolbar.end", "rba_test", $menu_handler)
  menu.insert_item("tools_menu.end", "rba_test", $menu_handler)

  app.exec

This simple example already demonstrates some important concepts:

  • Reimplementation: the menu item's functionality is implemented by reimplementing the Action object's "triggered" method. This method is called when the menu item is selected.
  • Delegation: the menu item is not implemented directly but the implementation is delegated to an "Action" object. The action provides the "slot" that the menu item refers to. One action may be used for multiple menu items. The action does not only provide the implementation but the title, keyboard shortcut and other properties of the menu item. This way, the action may be used in multiple places (i.e. menu and toolbar) and still appear the same.
  • Menu item addressing: The menu item is addressed by a "path" expression. In this case, the path is used for specifying the place where to insert the item. The path "@toolbar.end" instructs the menu controller to insert the item at the end of the toolbar. The path "tools_menu.end" instructs it to insert the item at the end of the "Tools" menu. The second string passed to "insert" is the name of the new item. After inserting, the new item can be addressed with the path "@toolbar.rba_test" and "tools_menu.rba_test".
  • Ownership of objects: RBA is not able to guarantee a certain lifetime of an object, because Ruby and C++ implement different lifetime management models. Specifically, for the action object this means, that the menu controller, which is implemented in C++ cannot tell ruby that it keeps a reference to the action object. Without further measures, ruby will ignore this relationship and delete the action object - the menu item will disappear. To overcome this problem, an explicit reference to the action object must be held. In this case, a global variable is used ("$menu_handler"). This could as well be a member of an object or an array member.
    It is very important to keep this aspect in mind when designing RBA applications.

Documentation for the various classes involved can be found in Class Index.

Extending the example

To give the menu callback a more "ruby style" look, a wrapper can be created what allows to attach code to the menu in the style of a ruby iterator. Now the callback uses "yield" to execute the code attached to the menu. In addition, the menu item now uses a icon and a keyboard shortcut ("Shift+F7"):

  class MenuHandler < RBA::Action
    def initialize( t, k, i, &action ) 
      self.title = t
      self.shortcut = k
      self.icon = i
      @action = action
    end
    def triggered 
      @action.call( self ) 
    end
  private
    @action
  end

  app = RBA::Application.instance

  $menu_handler = MenuHandler.new( "RBA test", "Shift+F7", "icon.png" ) {
    RBA::MessageBox::info( "Info", "Hello, world!", RBA::MessageBox::b_ok )
  } 

  menu = app.main_window.menu
  menu.insert_item("@toolbar.end", "rba_test", $menu_handler)
  menu.insert_item("tools_menu.end", "rba_test", $menu_handler)

  app.exec

Events

Starting with version 0.21, RBA features "events". Events allow to specify a Ruby block which is called when a certain condition takes place. Using events eliminates the need for deriving a from an existing class. In particular, with version 0.21, RBA::Action features one event called "on_triggered". A block associated with this event is called, when the action is triggered.

With events the example looks like that:

  app = RBA::Application.instance

  $menu_handler = RBA::Action.new
  $menu_handler.title = "RBA test"
  $menu_handler.shortcut = "Shift+F7"
  $menu_handler.icon = "icon.png"

  # install the event
  $menu_handler.on_triggered {
    RBA::MessageBox::info( "Info", "Hello, world!", RBA::MessageBox::b_ok )
  } 

  menu = app.main_window.menu
  menu.insert_item("@toolbar.end", "rba_test", $menu_handler)
  menu.insert_item("tools_menu.end", "rba_test", $menu_handler)

  app.exec

Using KLayout as a pure interpreter

KLayout can be used as a RBA interpreter without user interface. That allows implementation of layout processing scripts using the provided RBA bindings to the layout database objects, namely RBA::Layout. You cannot use user interface objects in that mode and the RBA::MainWindow instance will be nil. You can pass parameters from the command line to the script by defining Ruby variables.

Here is an example which reads a layout and converts it to OASIS with some special settings:

  ly = RBA::Layout.new
  ly.read($input)

  gzip = false # or true to use gzip on the file

  # special settings for OASIS output
  opt = RBA::SaveLayoutOptions::new
  opt.format = "OASIS"
  opt.dbu = 0.0001
  opt.oasis_write_cblocks = true
  opt.oasis_strict_mode = false
  opt.oasis_compression_level = 10

  ly.write($output, gzip, opt)

Assume that script is saved to "write_oas.rb". To run that script, use the following KLayout call:

klayout -rx -r write_oas.rb -z -rd input=in.gds -rd output=out.oas

The two "-rd" options will instruct KLayout to define two Ruby variables for the input and output file name. They can be used as "$input" and "$output" in the script.

"-z" will disable the user interface. Therefore, this KLayout call can be used in scripts and on servers without X connection for example.

"-rx" will disable all implicitly loaded scripts such as autorun macros which speeds up application start and avoids undesired side effects.