CodeGear unveils Ruby on Rails IDE

| by Werner Schuster Follow 9 Followers on May 14, 2007. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |
CodeGear from Borland, is the organization behind Borland's development tool business and now  provides well known IDEs such as Delphi or JBuilder. A new tool will join this group in the 2nd half of 2007: an IDE for Ruby on Rails development. Like CodeGear's JBuilder product, this will also be based on Eclipse, and is now available for beta testing.

The feature list:
  • Complete IDE with full support for Ruby and Rails, enabling advanced development features such as Code Completion, Refactoring, type browsing and navigation

  • Innovative new “Commanders” that uniquely merge the power of the command line with the ease of use and productivity of the IDE, Wizards and Code Insights

  • Dependency visualization and navigation to seamlessly work with all resources regardless of their relationship, location or format

  • A full set of development and deployment modules including Ruby, Rails, Gems and Database

The Ruby tools space is bustling with competitors many of them free products. IDEs such as Aptana, which recently incorporated the popular RadRails IDE, is just one example. Michael Swindell, CodeGear vice president of products and strategy, explains how CodeGear's Ruby IDE will distinguish itself in this market:
Our new Ruby on Rails technology addresses these challenges by going beyond just editing and debugging Ruby scripts.  It provides a comprehensive Rails-centric development environment which both initiates beginners and streamlines experts. Also, based on new CodeGear IDE innovations, it is the first tool we’ve developed that will likely appeal equally to command line, IDE, and visual developers.
David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails, also chimed in:
It’s encouraging to see the Rails ecosystem extend itself to include commercial tool vendors. I heartily welcome CodeGear to the arena and I’m excited to see what they come up with. It’s a wonderful time for users and vendors alike in the world of Rails.
Behind the scenes, the CodeGear Ruby IDE functionality is built on a new project under the Eclipse umbrella: Dynamic Languages Tool Kit (DLTK). The plural in the name has a reason: DLTK provides basic systems for dynamic language support in Eclipse. This includes general models that represent source code. DLTK provides infrastructure, such as source code indexing services which allow to quickly query types and other structures in a project. It also includes extensible algorithms for type inference, that permit to figure out the types of variables and functions. This is  necessary for many IDE editor features, such as Auto Complete on types (showing the methods of an object) and others.
Also included are common GUI components, such as outlines, interpreter configuration dialogs, and many others, that use the data stored maintained by DLTK. In general, DLTK speeds up the process of adding support for a (dynamic) language to Eclipse considerably.

Currently, DLTK has support for Tcl, Javascript and Ruby. CodeGear is contributing patches and code to DLTK Ruby.

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Good luck...they're going to need it by Dan Tines

I don't doubt that CodeGear will come up with something that is "better" than say Aptana. But the question is will it be that much better to be able to make money off of it. Of course CodeGear seems to be a spinoff of Borland, without a lot of baggage behind it. So it has that going for it. But despite the incredible hype that RoR has, it's still a niche market. Maybe they know something about future usage of RoR that I don't, but I have my doubts.

Re: Good luck...they're going to need it by Werner Schuster

Yes, CodeGear needs to come up with some new and well polished features to go against its free competitors. But I'd say the Ruby and Ruby on Rails market is sure to grow, especially now that JRuby on Rails is a reality (see ThoughtWorks Mingle app running on it) and IronRuby seems to bring Ruby to .NET too.

Re: Good luck...they're going to need it by Dan Tines

Yeah, it's not really a question of whether RoR will grow. But you already have pretty good Ruby/RoR support in Eclipse and Netbeans. Mac users tend to use TextMate. IronRuby users will probably get something in VS. So can a commercial(non-free) IDE make it? It's all good for RoR developers though, because they'll have to come up with something really spectacular to make it.

Re: Good luck...they're going to need it by Sebastien Auvray

Yeah, Borland arriving a bit after the battle. I remember old days where they were on the front!
But well we will wait to evaluate the result.

Re: Good luck...they're going to need it by Werner Schuster

Yeah, the IDE market is tough, with all the free competition. But keep in mind that IntelliJ and CodeGear's JBuilder also seem to sell, despite free, innovative IDEs like Eclipse. Maybe a mix of brand recognition and some more polished features helps in that.
Also: there's a commercial Ruby IDE for Visual Studio, which has some nice features (fast native Ruby debugger, slick debugging GUI)... I guess they'll be on the receiving end of the IronRuby rush (I haven't heard anything about MS offering Ruby support for VS). Their benefit: VS users are used to paying for their software.

It'll be fun to watch in any case...

Repeating Java IDE story? by Alex Popescu

It feels like Ruby/RoR is starting to repeat the Java IDE history. At the beginning there were none, then after a while there were plenty, then later there remained only a few. And what is more important the remaining few started to gather together pieces from all those many. I am wondering why the Ruby/RoR world is going this exact same path, instead of focusing on getting a solid platform for IDEs.

.w( the_mindstorm )p.
Alexandru Popescu
Senior Software Eng.
InfoQ TechLead&CoFounder

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