Last Update: 2011-05-25 01:40:19 -0400

Rake 0.8.4 Released

Rake version 0.8.4 is a bug-fix release of rake.

NOTE: The version of Rake that comes with Ruby 1.9 has diverged

slightly from the core Rake code base.  Rake 0.8.4 will work
with Ruby 1.9, but is not a strict upgrade for the Rake that
comes with Ruby 1.9.  A (near) future release of Rake will unify
those two codebases.

Letter Writing Campaign

Thanks to Aaron Patterson (@tenderlove) and Eric Hodel (@drbrain) for their encouraging support in organizing a letter writing campaign to lobby for the “Warning Free” release of rake 0.8.4. A special callout goes to Jonathan D. Lord, Sr (Dr. Wingnut) whose postcard was the first to actually reach me. (see tenderlovemaking.com/2009/02/26/we-need-a-new-version-of-rake/ for details)


New Features / Enhancements in Version 0.8.4

  • Case is preserved on rakefile names. (patch from James

    1. Lawrence/quix)

  • Improved Rakefile case insensitivity testing (patch from Luis Lavena).

  • Windows system dir search order is now: HOME, HOMEDRIVE + HOMEPATH, APPDATA, USERPROFILE (patch from Luis Lavena)

  • MingGW is now recognized as a windows platform. (patch from Luis Lavena)

Bug Fixes in Version 0.8.4

  • Removed reference to manage_gem to fix the warning produced by the gem package task.

  • Fixed stray ARGV option problem that was interfering with Test::Unit::Runner. (patch from Pivotal Labs)

Infrastructure Improvements in Version 0.8.4

  • Numerous fixes to the windows test suite (patch from Luis Lavena).

  • Improved Rakefile case insensitivity testing (patch from Luis Lavena).

  • Better support for windows paths in the test task (patch from Simon Chiang/bahuvrihi)

What is Rake

Rake is a build tool similar to the make program in many ways. But instead of cryptic make recipes, Rake uses standard Ruby code to declare tasks and dependencies. You have the full power of a modern scripting language built right into your build tool.


The easiest way to get and install rake is via RubyGems …

gem install rake    (you may need root/admin privileges)

Otherwise, you can get it from the more traditional places:

Home Page






Task Argument Examples

Prior to version 0.8.0, rake was only able to handle command line arguments of the form NAME=VALUE that were passed into Rake via the ENV hash. Many folks had asked for some kind of simple command line arguments, perhaps using “—” to separate regular task names from argument values on the command line. The problem is that there was no easy way to associate positional arguments on the command line with different tasks. Suppose both tasks :a and :b expect a command line argument: does the first value go with :a? What if :b is run first? Should it then get the first command line argument.

Rake 0.8.0 solves this problem by explicitly passing values directly to the tasks that need them. For example, if I had a release task that required a version number, I could say:

rake release[0.8.4]

And the string “0.8.4“ will be passed to the :release task. Multiple arguments can be passed by separating them with a comma, for example:

rake name[john,doe]

Just a few words of caution. The rake task name and its arguments need to be a single command line argument to rake. This generally means no spaces. If spaces are needed, then the entire rake + argument string should be quoted. Something like this:

rake "name[billy bob, smith]"

(Quoting rules vary between operating systems and shells, so make sure you consult the proper docs for your OS/shell).

Tasks that Expect Parameters

Parameters are only given to tasks that are setup to expect them. In order to handle named parameters, the task declaration syntax for tasks has been extended slightly.

For example, a task that needs a first name and last name might be declared as:

task :name, :first_name, :last_name

The first argument is still the name of the task (:name in this case). The next to argumements are the names of the parameters expected by :name (:first_name and :last_name in the example).

To access the values of the paramters, the block defining the task behaviour can now accept a second parameter:

task :name, :first_name, :last_name do |t, args|
  puts "First name is #{args.first_name}"
  puts "Last  name is #{args.last_name}"

The first argument of the block “t” is always bound to the current task object. The second argument “args” is an open-struct like object that allows access to the task arguments. Extra command line arguments to a task are ignored. Missing command line arguments are given the nil value.


As usual, it was input from users that drove a alot of these changes. The following people either contributed patches, made suggestions or made otherwise helpful comments. Thanks to …

  • James M. Lawrence/quix

  • Luis Lavena

  • Pivotal Labs

  • Simon Chiang/bahuvrihi

— Jim Weirich