Lab test: Climb aboard Ruby on Rails
The InfoWorld Test Center sifts through nine Rails IDEs and editors to help you choose the tools to suit your development needs
For example, RadRails provides simple GUI front ends for Rails generators and rake tasks; 3rdRail goes one better and provides higher-level wizards that collect the necessary information in a GUI and then run a sequence of generators and/or rake tasks in an enhanced command shell.
CodeGear calls this enhanced shell "commanders" and describes it this way: Commanders "merge the power of the command line with the ease of use and productivity of the IDE. This provides the ability to dynamically switch between typing on command lines and the IDE's tools, which are all integrated into the command line. For example, output from commands adding a model or view is immediately reflected throughout the IDE. Command output is hyperlinked, so that clicking on any generated file or folder will open that in the IDE."
That hyperlinking is surprisingly useful for such a simple feature. It can be very confusing to figure out why a test failed or a Rails page threw an error. With 3rdRail, once you pick out the root cause from the command output, one click takes you to the correct line of code. In similar fashion, the 3rdRail dependencies view lets you quickly navigate to the right code from a graphical representation of the application's functionality.
3rdRail offers numerous helpers in the edit window. For example, right-clicking in an edit window brings up a context menu with more than a dozen items, many of which bring up submenus.
Because 3rdRail is more expensive than any other tool reviewed in this suite, and because some of the free tools are more than adequate for Rails development, I would suggest 3rdRail only for developers who spend most of their time building Rails and could justify the increased cost in terms of productivity gains.
[Jump to the review of the Ruby on Rails IDE of your choice from the list below:
SapphireSteel Ruby in Steel Developer Edition 1.2 and Text Edition 1.1.5
Aptana RadRails 1.0
ActiveState Komodo IDE 4.3 and Edit 4.3
CodeGear 3rdRail 1.1
NetBeans IDE 6.1
MacroMates TextMate 1.5.7
JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA 7.0.3 with Ruby plug-in 1.0
E Text Editor 1.0.20 Beta
Intype 0.3.1 Alpha]
NetBeans IDE 6.1
NetBeans has long been a strong Java development environment. It gained Ruby and Rails support in the last year. With Version 6.1, NetBeans is a seriously good Rails IDE.