Announcing ScreenRuler

See the project page for details.

ScreenRuler was written some time ago as my first application for the GNOME desktop. Although I chose to make a ruler just to fill the gap (a screenruler existed for Windows, OSX and KDE), I’ve actually found it to be extremely useful, using it almost daily for GUI and website design.

It was recently rewritten in Ruby, reducing code size by 65% while also improving ruler rotation behavior, switching to Cairo for the rendering, and moving metric selection (inches, picas, etc.) from the preferences menu to the popup menu.

I’ve been really happy with my C -> Ruby rewrites so far. They are consistently smaller, easier to maintain, more fun to work on, and an end to compilation and packaging nightmares.


12 Responses to Announcing ScreenRuler

  1. Hey, just wanted to say thanks for this program, its just what I needed.

    I don’t know if you’re interested in hearing about future enhancements, but here’s one to consider. Probably is possible since you’re using cairo.

    It would be cool to be able to change the alpha transparency. That way you can see through the ruler to see what you’re measuring.

    ScreenRuler now uses some full-window alpha transparency on platforms that support it.

  2. Ian McIntosh says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Matthew.

    I’ve had several requests for alpha transparency and I think it’s a great idea.

    It will be added when the back-end technology reaches the necessary maturity.

  3. Ben2 says:

    Yet another thanks for a very useful program, its nice to have something so simple on linux without all those KDE libraries (KRuler).

    One request: The cursor becomes a cross hair around the ruler, and the value then displayed. This is useful when you set the end of the ruler at the beginning of the object you are measuring and then use the cursor to accurately measure the other end. JRuler might give you a better Idea of what I am talking about.

    Once again thanks for a very very useful little app.

    ScreenRuler now has mouse tracking for precise measurements.

  4. Jake T says:

    here’s a second for displaying the value of the length at the cursor feature. I can squint and do the fractions in my head, but having the value displayed automatically saves a lot of work.


  5. Ian McIntosh says:

    Ben2 and Jake T:

    Thanks for the feedback.

    The version before the rewrite showed the value on the ruler whereever the cursor was, anywhere on the screen. It was really useful, and I also miss this feature, and I’ll add it some time.

    For anyone with reyna’s problem: we chatted via email, and the problem was solved just by using the latest version.

  6. aking says:

    Thanks for producing the nice utility. Would you care to include a minimal doc with this package, I mean sth like a ‘README’, ‘INSTALL’, and ‘COPYING’ files. That would aid packaging it in distros.
    And if I may ask, which exactly is the name for this program, screenruler or gruler?

  7. Ian McIntosh says:


    Sure I’ll add those files.

    And the official name is just “Screen Ruler”.

  8. Torsten says:

    Hey Ian,

    ruby seems a little difficult for me: I tried dragging a link to your script onto the desktop (tyring to creating a starter), but then it won’t execute. Any ideas how to create a starter for the ruler?

  9. angel says:

    I am a Ubuntu user, also your Gruler.
    I am a cardiologist veterinarian and I working on a distance ECG interpretation service.
    to make a diagnosis I have to measure all waves on electrocardiogram and use your fabulouse screen ruler.
    I have a petition to you.
    can I change the image of ruler. for example this one:

    or another one.
    this ruler link probably is not on 100% proportion (I probably make it smaller)

    is easy to change?
    I am not programing expert, and also english expert (sorry for my english)

    thank you in advance.

    ANGEL (airsoto AT

  10. Wolfgang says:

    thanks for your work. I’m using JRuler under XP and now chanching more to Ubuntu, so your tool is the right choice. But there is a problem on your project page. The download link shows to a page with different article links, is that ok? I found a package at debian, so I can work. But you should correct the link for other.


  11. Ian says:

    The download link is working again. Sorry for the delay. (I was traveling without a computer.)

  12. Ashok Babu says:


    thanks for the great work. Is it possible to add feature to turn the ruler in angles other than vertical and horizontal?


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