Ruby and Ruby on Rails IDE

Ruby: “Say hello world to my little friend

Java has Eclipse, .Net has Visual Studio (with ReSharper) and now Ruby has NetBeans! The NetBeans IDE is fast becoming the IDE of choice when it comes to Ruby development. It supports auto-completion, smart navigation and refactoring. In addition to this, NetBeans supports Ruby on Rails!

NetBeans IDE

There are numerous ways to get up and running. In a previous post I suggested Instant Rails as a quick start. You can use NetBeans and Instant Rails together; Brian Leonard’s Blog explains how to do this. If you download the Ruby bundle of NetBeans you can skip some of the steps in Brian Leonard’s tutorial.

8 thoughts on “Ruby and Ruby on Rails IDE

  1. Yes, Eclipse is more than just an IDE – so is NetBeans. You can also develop plug-ins and RCP applications within the NetBeans environment.

    The Eclipse Java IDE plug-in is extremely good, but this does not mean that the rest of the Eclipse plug-ins will be equally as good. In fact many plug-ins are no good at all, this is a consequence of the sheer amount of plug-ins. Some Eclipse plug-in developers should rather make Facebook applications, as that seems to be the level of quality they aim for.

    There are many other Ruby IDE implementations e.g. RadRails (there is also a RADRails Eclipse plug-in), UltraEdit, gVim, ArachnoRuby, SciTE, TextMate (for Mac users) and of course Emacs.

    If I were you, I would give NetBeans a chance, especially if you are doing Rails work. You have to hand it to the NetBeans guys, they are doing a great job on this one.

  2. Hate to dog NetBeans because it is probably great for full time developers that know what it is doing behind the scenes. For a beginner like myself it takes a long time to figure out what NetBeans is doing & how to configure it. I’ve yet to create anything I can use with it & I’ve been trying since version 4.

    I’ve been trying desperately to get NetBeans to work for something beyond tutorials for years. Currently the tutorials are not up to date with Rails 2.0. Also, it is very very very very very very very sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow! By the time it completes a task I’ve forgotten what it was I was supposed to be learning. It slows my machine down so much I finally had to give up and go back to jEdit. Thanks to Daryn’s tutorials about routing I’ve finally made progress on understanding rails. Currently it is impossible for me to do so with NetBeans.

    If someone asked me what I’d like NetBeans to do for me I could answer:
    1) I have an SQL script to create the database app that I need
    2) let me run it in NetBeans
    3) let me use NetBeans to have Ruby & Rails Automatically make my CRUD app based on the database app.

    This seems to be doable yet I cannot figure it out. Hopefully things will get easier once the Tutorials catch up.

    Just my 2 pennies worth eh?

  3. I agree with most of your comments. Specifically with regards to beginners. When learning Rails it is best to stick to a basic text editor and then move onto an IDE, if necessary.

    NetBeans may not be the right fit for you, you should explore the different ones. I also recommend that you test RadRails.

    – Daryn

  4. I’ve been a full time (and then some) Rails developer for a couple years now (using Eclipse and RadRails) and just gave NetBeans a test drive. I quickly found two deal killers that will prevent me from ever using NetBeans or recommending it to anyone else.

    1) It overrides the standard Rails directory structure within the IDE with it’s own. So, my controllers aren’t in /app/controllers anymore and my unit tests aren’t in /test/unit, and instead of /vendor/plugins, my plugins are now in… uh… uh… (see #2). So, now depending on if i’m in the IDE or on the command line (or temporarily working on a co-workers Mac with TextMate), I need to think differently about where my files are. Why? Eclipse/RadRails and TextMate both use the same directory structure that the files are actually stored in on the hard drive. NetBeans, apparently wants to be different, simply to be different. STRIKE 1!

    2) I and my coworkers work on a lot of projects that are very similar and therefore share a lot of common code in the form on plugins. Some of these plugins are generic enough to release to the broader community, but many are strictly for our own uses. We’ve also been known to take plugins created by others and make significant changes to them to work for us. NetBeans treats plugins like some sort of taboo code, that all you can do is install, take updates, or uninstall. I couldn’t find any simple way to browse the source code of any plugins from within the IDE, much less make changes to the plugin. We do this ALL THE TIME! That earns NetBeans STRIKE 2!

    Normally it takes three strikes to strike out, but each of these issues were worth three strikes alone, in my score book. Considering how quickly these two strikes came to my attention, I can only assume there are many more strikes in there somewhere, if I took the time to look for them. I don’t mind learning new ways of doing things, if the new ways might actually be better. But NetBeans struck me as a RailsIDE that was created by people who haven’t developed in Rails much or for long and don’t know what real Rails developers want or need in an IDE.

  5. This might be moot now that you’ve switched to RadRails.

    I’ll have to clarify some of the points Joe made. Netbeans doesn’t actually modify the directory structure, it just tries to organize the files within the project in a way that minimizes having to dig down through extra layers to get what you need (such as putting /app/models on the top level. This isn’t how the underlying file structure is however.

    I don’t have Netbeans readily available, so I might not be completely accurate on the UI, but if you hit the “Files” tab next to the project tab, you can browse the files in the hierarchy of the filesystem. Within this tab, you can get to the /vendor directory that has all the plugins. I’ve browsed and edited plugins this way. It’s fairly simple to use actually. If the “Files” tab isn’t available, you might be able to bring it up from the Windows menu. Because of confusion for new users though, I would suggest that this should be the default starting tab for accessing files.

    Netbeans has been a pretty good IDE for me to get a Rails app up and running. I’ve been exploring using some other development tools though such as Textmate. I tried using Eclipse/RadRails before but it was just too sluggish for me. I might have to give it another shot.

  6. I used Radrails for 1 year, and i gave Netbeans a try…. now I moved from RadRails to NetBeans :
    no tons of useless functions, only the essential ones, some good shortcuts as in RadRails (
    a simple and fast database client inside
    + Subversion functions and stuff…
    I will stick with netbeans… it simplicity simply rocks :), i would recommand it for all people who do not work on a very powerfull computer (cpu and memory)

    @jon garvin : yes there is 2 different view to browse ur projects… the projects view (trying to make the browsing easier) and the file view (real directory structure) … choose the one u prefer…

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