Java IDE shines on Ruby

Ruby on Rails creator applauds IntelliJ Idea backing

JetBrains is now accommodating Ruby developers with the company's IntelliJ Idea Java IDE.

A beta plug-in released Feb. 1 enables the product to serve as an IDE for developing Ruby and Ruby on Rails applications, the company said. Ruby is a popular dynamic scripting language; Ruby on Rails is an open source Web framework that leverages Ruby.

JetBrains' free, open source plug-in can be used with Version 6.0 of the company's IDE. A completed version of the plug-in for Ruby is planned for a fall upgrade to IntelliJ, which will be Version 7.0.

"What we released is a plug-in for IntelliJ Idea, which provides rich support for Ruby development," said Alex Tkachman, chief operations manager for JetBrains, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Although it is not a completed product, the plug-in can be used in production environments now, Tkachman said.

JetBrains is hopping on the Ruby bandwagon because there are a lot of people in the Java community who are also very interested in Ruby, he said.

"I can say that their interest is very high," said Tkachman.

The plug-in provides functions such as syntax highlighting and editing of Ruby source code. Code completion for keywords and automatic completion of Ruby statements also is featured.

David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails, greeted with enthusiasm Ruby's backing in IntelliJ.

"I think that's great news," Hansson said in an e-mail. "While I was doing Java, IntelliJ was the only thing that kept me from killing myself in frustration over the language. It still wasn't exactly happy programming, but IntelliJ helped mitigate some of the worst deficiencies of working in Java."

Other focuses of IntelliJ Idea 7.0 include further accommodations for the Spring Web framework, the Hibernate object persistence technology, and the IBM Rational ClearCase version control product. Other technologies being accommodated in the upcoming release include the TestNG testing framework and the Maven build manager.

A preview, or Milestone, release of Version 7.0, also known as Selena, is planned for March.

Hansson noted that JetBrains is one of a growing list of companies endorsing Ruby on Rails.

"There's a flurry of activity in the Rails ecosystem. For example, we have big companies like IBM stepping up to officially support the platform by developing their own database adapter for connecting DB2 and Rails. And smaller companies, like FiveRuns, are doing systems monitoring for Rails," Hansson said.

The Ruby on Rails community welcomes commercial support, he said.

"Rails has always been a community that supported commercial support. Just because we're big believers in open source infrastructure doesn't mean we have to be high-strung opponents of commercial developments as well. Quite the contrary," Hansson said.

Paul Krill is editor at large at InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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