RubyGems Guides

Specification Reference

The Specification class contains the information for a Gem. Typically defined in a .gemspec file or a Rakefile, and looks like this: do |s|        = 'example'
  s.version     = '0.1.0'
  s.licenses    = ['MIT']
  s.summary     = "This is an example!"
  s.description = "Much longer explanation of the example!"
  s.authors     = ["Ruby Coder"]       = ''
  s.files       = ["lib/example.rb"]
  s.homepage    = ''

Starting in RubyGems 2.0, a Specification can hold arbitrary metadata. See metadata for restrictions on the format and size of metadata items you may add to a specification.

Required gemspec attributes

Optional gemspec attributes

Required gemspec attributes

## author=(o)

Singular writer for authors

Usage: = 'John Jones'

## authors=(value)

Sets the list of authors, ensuring it is an array.


spec.authors = ['John Jones', 'Mary Smith']

## files

Files included in this gem. You cannot append to this accessor, you must assign to it.

Only add files you can require to this list, not directories, etc.

Directories are automatically stripped from this list when building a gem, other non-files cause an error.


require 'rake'
spec.files = FileList['lib     .rb',
                      'test/   *'].to_a

# or without Rake...
spec.files = Dir['lib/   *.rb'] + Dir['bin/*']
spec.files += Dir['[A-Z]*'] + Dir['test/**/*']
spec.files.reject! { |fn| fn.include? "CVS" }

## name

This gem's name.

Usage: = 'rake'

## platform=(platform)

The platform this gem runs on.

This is usually Gem::Platform::RUBY or Gem::Platform::CURRENT.

Most gems contain pure Ruby code; they should simply leave the default value in place. Some gems contain C (or other) code to be compiled into a Ruby “extension”. The should leave the default value in place unless their code will only compile on a certain type of system. Some gems consist of pre-compiled code (“binary gems”). It's especially important that they set the platform attribute appropriately. A shortcut is to set the platform to Gem::Platform::CURRENT, which will cause the gem builder to set the platform to the appropriate value for the system on which the build is being performed.

If this attribute is set to a non-default value, it will be included in the filename of the gem when it is built such as: nokogiri-1.6.0-x86-mingw32.gem


spec.platform = Gem::Platform.local

## require_paths=(val)

Paths in the gem to add to $LOAD_PATH when this gem is activated.

See also require_paths

If you have an extension you do not need to add "ext" to the require path, the extension build process will copy the extension files into “lib” for you.

The default value is "lib"


# If all library files are in the root directory...
spec.require_paths = ['.']

## rubygems_version

The version of RubyGems used to create this gem.

Do not set this, it is set automatically when the gem is packaged.

## summary

A short summary of this gem's description. Displayed in `gem list -d`.

The description should be more detailed than the summary.


spec.summary = "This is a small summary of my gem"

## version

This gem's version.

The version string can contain numbers and periods, such as 1.0.0. A gem is a 'prerelease' gem if the version has a letter in it, such as 1.0.0.pre.


spec.version = '0.4.1'

Recommended gemspec attributes

## license=(o)

The license for this gem.

The license must be no more than 64 characters.

This should just be the name of your license. The full text of the license should be inside of the gem (at the top level) when you build it.

The simplest way, is to specify the standard SPDX ID for the license. Ideally you should pick one that is OSI (Open Source Initiative) approved.

The most commonly used OSI approved licenses are BSD-3-Clause and MIT. GitHub also provides a license picker at

You should specify a license for your gem so that people know how they are permitted to use it, and any restrictions you're placing on it. Not specifying a license means all rights are reserved; others have no rights to use the code for any purpose.

You can set multiple licenses with licenses=


spec.license = 'MIT'

## licenses=(licenses)

The license(s) for the library.

Each license must be a short name, no more than 64 characters.

This should just be the name of your license. The full text of the license should be inside of the gem when you build it.

See license= for more discussion


spec.licenses = ['MIT', 'GPL-2']

Optional gemspec attributes

## add_development_dependency(gem, *requirements)

Adds a development dependency named gem with requirements to this gem.


spec.add_development_dependency 'example', '~> 1.1', '>= 1.1.4'

Development dependencies aren't installed by default and aren't activated when a gem is required.

## add_runtime_dependency(gem, *requirements)

Adds a runtime dependency named gem with requirements to this gem.


spec.add_runtime_dependency 'example', '~> 1.1', '>= 1.1.4'

## bindir

The path in the gem for executable scripts. Usually 'bin'


spec.bindir = 'bin'

## cert_chain

The certificate chain used to sign this gem. See Gem::Security for details.

## description

A long description of this gem

The description should be more detailed than the summary but not excessively long. A few paragraphs is a recommended length with no examples or formatting.


spec.description = <<-EOF
  Rake is a Make-like program implemented in Ruby. Tasks and
  dependencies are specified in standard Ruby syntax.

## email

A contact email address (or addresses) for this gem

Usage: = '' = ['', '']

## executables

Executables included in the gem.

For example, the rake gem has rake as an executable. You don’t specify the full path (as in bin/rake); all application-style files are expected to be found in bindir. These files must be executable Ruby files. Files that use bash or other interpreters will not work.

Executables included may only be ruby scripts, not scripts for other languages or compiled binaries.


spec.executables << 'rake'

## extensions

Extensions to build when installing the gem, specifically the paths to extconf.rb-style files used to compile extensions.

These files will be run when the gem is installed, causing the C (or whatever) code to be compiled on the user’s machine.


spec.extensions << 'ext/rmagic/extconf.rb'

See Gem::Ext::Builder for information about writing extensions for gems.

## extra_rdoc_files

Extra files to add to RDoc such as README or doc/examples.txt

When the user elects to generate the RDoc documentation for a gem (typically at install time), all the library files are sent to RDoc for processing. This option allows you to have some non-code files included for a more complete set of documentation.


spec.extra_rdoc_files = ['README', 'doc/user-guide.txt']

## homepage

The URL of this gem's home page


spec.homepage = ''

## metadata

:attr_accessor: metadata

The metadata holds extra data for this gem that may be useful to other consumers and is settable by gem authors without requiring an update to the rubygems software.

Metadata items have the following restrictions:

To add metadata for the location of a issue tracker:

s.metadata = { "issue_tracker" => "https://example/issues" }

## post_install_message

A message that gets displayed after the gem is installed.


spec.post_install_message = "Thanks for installing!"

## rdoc_options

Specifies the rdoc options to be used when generating API documentation.


spec.rdoc_options << '--title' << 'Rake -- Ruby Make' <<
  '--main' << 'README' <<

## required_ruby_version

The version of Ruby required by this gem

## required_ruby_version=(req)

The version of Ruby required by this gem. The ruby version can be specified to the patch-level:

$ ruby -v -e 'p Gem.ruby_version'
ruby 2.0.0p247 (2013-06-27 revision 41674) [x86_64-darwin12.4.0]
#<Gem::Version "">


# This gem will work with 1.8.6 or greater...
spec.required_ruby_version = '>= 1.8.6'

# Only with ruby 2.0.x
spec.required_ruby_version = '~> 2.0'

## required_rubygems_version

The RubyGems version required by this gem

## required_rubygems_version=(req)

The RubyGems version required by this gem

## requirements

Lists the external (to RubyGems) requirements that must be met for this gem to work. It's simply information for the user.


spec.requirements << 'libmagick, v6.0'
spec.requirements << 'A good graphics card'

## signing_key

The key used to sign this gem. See Gem::Security for details.