We want to drop the dependency of JRuby from our automated test suite, and move to native Ruby.

Ticket: #5731


We depend on JRuby only because of the sikuli-ruby gem. Since Debian's JRuby is too old this forces us to use RVM to install a more recent JRuby and all required Ruby gems from RVM's non-Debian sources, even though most of them are packaged for Debian. For all we know, all of this can break in the future, especially after the Wheezy release. Also, some parts of the RVM/gem mess have none or at best scetchy authentication. Clearly we want all dependencies for the automated test suite to be in Debian, and this mess is a big blocker for that.

Also, in JRuby 1.7 the C extension was deprecated, which means that two gems we depend on hsa become unusabe: ruby-libvirt, which is highly critical for us, and system_timer, which is not so critical.

A move to native Ruby would put us in a much better position, since all gems are packaged in Debian, and native Ruby still has a C extension. To be able to do this we need a replacement for the sikuli-ruby gem, though.

Ways to replace the sikuli-ruby gem


rjb seems maintained, if not actively developed. It is now in Debian Jessie and wheezy-backports.

Other projects using it or interesting stuff at:

The jruby sikuli gem is quite simple, implementing it in Rjb can be as lightweight, or not.

See #6399, test/rjb-migration branch.

Wrapping Sikuli commands via a stand-alone Sikuli server

If the Rjb solution doesn't work out, this fallback is a drop-in replacement for the Sikuli gem, and that we know will work no matter what, and that should be reasonably easy to implement.

In short, we create a pure Java program that controls a single Screen object, and listens for commands that that it translates into Sikuli API calls for that Screen object, and then responds appropriately to the calling client.


  1. We write a pure Java program using the Java API for Sikuli, that takes the $DISPLAY, image dir etc. as arguments and then sets up all required Sikuli objects: Mouse and Keyboard robots, and a single Screen object. Let's call this the "Sikuli server".

  2. The Sikuli server listens (on a UNIX socket, or whatever) for "Sikuli commands" that it translates to Sikuli calls on the single Screen object via the Sikuli API, and then translates the result and sends that as a response.

  3. We completely re-write sikuli_helper.rb, defining a Screen class (and possibly Region; see below). On initialize() it starts a Sikuli server instance (simply via Popen() or whatever). We implement simple wrappers for all methods we've used earlier (i.e. find(), wait(), type(), hover() and click()) that will send an appropriate command to the Sikuli server.


Say screen is an instance of sikuli_helper.rb's Screen. Then screen.wait("image.png", 100) will result in something like wait,image.png,100 being sent to the Sikuli server, which it translates into the call screenObject.wait("image.png", 100), and responds back with something easily parsable, like exception=ImageNotFound:Could not find image.png (or whatever the exact exception name and message are) on failure, otherwise it just sends an ACK so screen.wait() can stop blocking execution.

I'd rather not invent a new protocol entirely, and instead piggy-back e.g. on HTTP or something more appropriate. Also, I'd rather use a well-known, well-defined serialization format (YAML, JSON, you name it) instead of inventing a new one.


  • There may be some complexity to deal with Region objects (returned by e.g. find(), which we use in wait_and_click()) since we'd need some way (an identifier?) to know which Region object in sikuli_helper.rb corresponds to which Region (Java) object in the Sikuli server; we avoid this issue with Screen since each Sikuli server deals with a single Screen object, but we can potentially deal with any number of Region objects. A simple solution would be to only store the appropriate coordinates and dimensions in sikuli_helper.rb's Region object and then whenever it's used we create a new Region object in the Sikuli server using those coordinates and dimensions. We could then implement methods via the Screen object, like Region.click() could use those coordinates and dimensions to Screen.click() on the right place. We currently only use Region in our wait_and_click helper, so a ad-hoc solution would probably be enough.

  • Getting Sikuli's key constants (e.g. Sikuli::KEY_CTRL) into sikuli_helper.rb is not completely trivial. Perhaps we could make the Sikuli server send the values of all these so they can be stored into the appropriate constants upon Screen.initialize(), when the server is first contacted? Otherwise we can always statically define them with magic values.


Complete the move to Rjb in test/rjb-migration.