Gigantron: Processor of Data

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→ ‘gigantron’


Gigantron is a simple framework for the creation and organization of data processing projects. Data-processing transforms are created as Rake tasks and data is handled through ActiveRecord models. (DataMapper was the original plan, but it has problems playing nicely with JRuby for now).

Ruby is great for exploratory data processing. Data processing projects tend to grow up and encompass large numbers of random scripts and input files. It is easy to get lost in coding and lose organization. Gigantron is an attempt to use code generation and random magic to make maintaining organized DP projects simple. Code is separated into data (models) and operations on the data (tasks). Code generators stub out these files and the associated tests for the user.

Gigantron was written for my own needs working with atmospheric data and will evolve through use to reduce the trivialities that can sometimes dominate the work of developers.


sudo gem install gigantron

This should handle the major dependencies automatically except for your database adapter. If you are on JRuby the gem is activerecord-jdbcsqlite3-adapter for sqlite3 and activerecord-jdbcmysql-adapter for mysql. On MRI be sure to install sqlite3-ruby if you are using sqlite.

Note: JDBCSqlite3 is still a work in progress and migrations are basically broken for it.

The basics

# Generate new project
shell> $ gigantron project
      create  tasks
      create  db
      create  models
      create  lib
      create  test
      create  Rakefile
      create  database.yml
      create  initialize.rb
      create  tasks/import.rake
      create  test/test_helper.rb
      create  test/models
      create  test/tasks
      create  test/tasks/test_import.rb
  dependency  install_rubigen_scripts
      create    script
      create    script/generate
      create    script/destroy
shell> $ cd project
# Create new model
shell> $ script/generate model modis
      exists  models/
      create  models/modis.rb
      exists  test/
      exists  test/models/
      create  test/models/test_modis.rb
shell> $ script/generate task modis_to_kml
      exists  tasks/
      create  tasks/modis_to_kml.rake
      exists  test/
      exists  test/tasks/
      create  test/tasks/test_modis_to_kml.rb

One can edit these files to add functionality. Gigantron by default includes ActiveSupport for convenience.


Gigantron is super minimal now, so modifying it is pretty easy. The gigantron application generator (that which is invoked by the gigantron command) lives in app_generators/gigantron/. The template files and the template dir structure are in app_generators/gigantron/templates/. When adding new templates, directories, or files, add the names first to the tests in test/test_gigantron_generator.rb, then the stubs to app_generators/gigantron/templates, and then finally describe them in the manifest section of app_generators/gigantron/gigantron_generator.rb. It should look something like

  def manifest
    record do |m|
      m.file "new_file", "new_file" #straight file copy "my_new_dir" #create directory
      m.template "new_thing", "new_thing" #runs file through ERB when copying

It might be handy to know that in gigantron_generator.rb the name provided to the generator can be referenced as @name. This can be used like

record do |m|
  m.file "renamed_file", "#{@name}_file"

The same value is available to your templates as just name. You can template a file like

class Test<%= name.camelcase %> < Test::Unit::TestCase

The same process applies to the model and task generator for gigantron projects. These generators live in gigantron_generators/. Modifying them is exactly the same as modifying the application generator.

All of this is pretty vanilla RubiGen, so if in doubt, check out the docos on that fine piece of work.

The only other place for code in Gigantron is is lib/gigantron/tasks/ where a few boilerplate test and db tasks live. I think I ripped the test tasks off of rails.

If you have any questions, do contact me. I am interested in anything that will make Gigantron suck less and be useful to people.

How to submit patches

git clone git://

Build and test instructions

cd gigantron
cp test/template_database.yml.example test/template_database.yml
vim test/template_database.yml
rake test
rake install_gem


This code is free to use under the terms of the MIT license.


Comments are welcome. Send an email to Ben Hughes

Ben Hughes, 24th June 2008
Theme extended from Paul Battley