Aptana Takes Over Development of RadRails

| by Obie Fernandez on Mar 12, 2007. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Last Wednesday at EclipseCon, Kyle Shank, one of the main developers behind the largely-successful RadRails project officially announced a significant change to his project:

Yesterday at EclipseCon I announced that Aptana would be taking over the RadRails project and integrating it into their existing suites of editors, debugging tools and community features. Rails tooling on Eclipse needs a full-time effort and Aptana has the team and resources to do just that.

Aptana also annouced the takeover on their official blog:

The Aptana IDE and RadRails are both EPL open-source products, and that will continue in the future. Initially, you’ll see some immediate bundling of the products, and then we’ll work on making a tighter integration as time goes on. We’ve set up a forum for questions, and if anyone is interested in contributing, please let us know and we’ll be happy to set something up. We hope to have everything transitioned by mid-May.

The Aptana IDE is a free, open-source, cross-platform, JavaScript-focused development environment for building Ajax applications. It features code assist on JavaScript, HTML, and CSS languages, FTP/SFTP support and a JavaScript debugger. The Aptana company was was founded in 2005 by Paul Colton, a real heavyweight-player in the Java web development world. Prior to starting Aptana, Paul Colton founded several technology companies, helped define the Servlet API specification and was behind JRun, which was at its peake the leading commercial Servlet and JSP engine in the world.

At the moment, it's really difficult to gauge how popular RadRails is in a world dominated by hackers wielding TextMate, Vim, and Emacs. The community consensus seems to be that RadRails is the tool of choice for the legions of Java programmers migrating to Rails development, probably due to their familiarity with Eclipse. (More often than not, this observation is made with a snicker.)

A quick poll on the #rubyonrails IRC channel (averaging over 400 members) generated little in the way of support for RadRails, but as to be expected, triggered a massive argument over the relative superiority of the aformentioned text editors.

Nevertheless, some of the IRC chatters chimed in with insightful comments, such as Fryguy: "My only problem with radrails (and eclipse in general) is that since it's plugin-based, everything seems so disconnected at times. It's nice when I'm editing a javascript file in visual studio, and switch over to an aspx file, and things feel the same, not always true in eclipse."

Others contrasted RadRails with its competitors, such as Jeremy Durham's advocacy of NetBeans: "seriously. it does everything radrails does, the interface is nicer, the support is better and it does context sensitive method completion and help.. it's very slow tho."

It remains to be seen whether RadRails can be rescued from the doldrums of open-source abandonment, but for the sake of the community we hope that Aptana can do it. What do you, InfoQ reader, think about RadRails?

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I'm a happy RadRailer by Donald Parish

As you mentioned in the article, I'm a recovering Java programmer used to Eclipse, so RadRails is a nice way to transition. Only thing it really needs is integrated debugger. Glad to see Aptana is picking up the ball and running with it.

RadRails and the others by Sebastien Auvray

I think FryGuy from IRC raises the right issue about RadRails and the Ruby/Rails Integration with an IDE (namely Eclipse) : it doesn't look like a real monolithic environment as I stated in my blog. And this is why this news of RadRails joining Aptana arrives at the right moment to give some more impulsion to the development and integration. It will also be interesting to see how the merge with RDT team happens.

RDT Refactoring by Clinton Begin

IIRC, RDT will soon include refactoring capabilities. Since RadRails is based on Eclipse/RDT, I expect it will be the refactoring tool of choice for Ruby developers.

Emacs, Vim and TextMate are as good as they've always been and the people that use them will always like them. The fact is though, they also rely heavily on scripting and command line utilities to do what is basically the same job as the IDE. But nobody should pretend that they're "31337" and only require a text buffer, file open and file save to write code. That's simply not the case -- or at least I've never seen it.

The key word is "integrated" -- you either like it or you don't. Whether it's in an IDE or a text editor with 1000 little disparate utilities is a matter of style. It's not like either is going away.

Many of the Java/.NET converts do appreciate RadRails, NetBeans(?) and soon IDEA for Ruby development and refactoring. However, I will warn IDE vendors not to make them too heavy. I have been an IDEA user for 5 years and was happy with the performance until version 6....I'm seriously considering moving to Eclipse because IDEA is simply too slow now.

But yes. RadRails is excellent for Ruby. It's light, fast and has the right level of integration while leaving your command line uninterrupted. (use both?! gawd! who's mad now!?) Based on the screencasts I've seen, NetBeans looks good, but it turned the command line into wizards...which looks annoying at best.


Waiting for something better by Marius Popescu

I am mainly a Delphi developer, but I use RadRails for some Rails projects. It feels good as a tool for Rails, I don't like though the IDE shortcuts (Eclipse's I guess).

And CodeGear (makers of Delphi and JBuilder) seem to be cooking some Ruby IDE of their own ...

But I never used Aptana's IDE and will give it a kick after they deliver the integrated version.

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