Ruby Development Environment, Part 2

After finishing my previous post in response to Stephen O’Grady’s ruby tools question it occurred to me that I might be able to shed some light onto the other options that available. While I use Emacs some of the other developers here do not. I will try to give my impression of the couple of other options we have used.


We tried radrails for a while. It was buggy, but you expect that from from product with a version number that is less than one. In the end we decided not to use it because it is not done and even if it where it has some serious limitations. The not doneness that cause the most problem was the inability to create a “server” (RadRails terminology for shortcut/script that starts the Rails application inside the IDE). RadRails creates one for you when you create the project (if you mutter just the right incantations). But if you need to create a new one you are out of luck. Unfortunately, if you import and existing Rails project (like, say, the one you just checked out of source control) RadRails does not create a “server” for you (or at least I did not figure out how to make it do so). This mean that you cannot start a Rails application inside RadRails if the project preexists the RadRails project.

Additionally, I dislike the idea of having an IDE that exclusive to just Rails. It seems far to limiting. We (will) have a non-trivial part of our system which is not a Rails application (it synchronizes data between the legacy system and the Rails application). It would be unfortunate to have two separate, but equal, IDEs for the two parts of this project.


We have settled on Arachno for our windows based developers who like graphical IDEs. It has less direct support for Ruby on Rails than RadRails, but it seems to actually work quite well. The developers who are using it were, most recently, doing C# in Visual Studio and Arachno is similar enough to that experience that they are quite comfortable in it. (I have not actually used it because the Linux version is ancient, by comparison to the windows version.)


My now ex-boss Donald Marino was a strong proponent of TextMate on Mac. I never really played with it or even watched him use it so I cannot comment on it directly but it is the choice of the Cool Kids.

9 thoughts on “Ruby Development Environment, Part 2

  1. Might I recommend Komodo? It not only has recently added Ruby on Rails debugging, has a good editor (with all the good stuff like regex, folding, etc), supports the Ruby Interactive Shell (as you said it’s a must), but it also does much the same for python, perl, php, xslt and tcl.

    I don’t normally pay for software, but I make an exception for Komodo. It’s built on open source (gecko), and Activestate plows a lot of patches back to a lot of projects.

  2. We did think about Komodo but it was considered too expensive to bother evaluating. I think that was probably the wrong choice because it is quite cheap by comparison to what developers are paid. On the other hand, Arachno is much cheaper and seem to work quite well, so maybe it was the right choice after all.

  3. One of the cons you mention regarding RadRails is that you don’t like an IDE just for Rails. RadRails is based on Eclipse, it actually can be installed as an Eclipse plugin. You get support for many languages in Eclipse.

  4. Marius, I was aware that RadRails was based on Eclipse. However, I was not aware that it could be easily installed as an Eclispe plugin. That would remove that particular downside.

  5. Matt, I am pretty sure the version we were using did not have that. The FAQ (or some similar piece of documentation we found) stated quite clearly, once we went and looked, that it was not possible to create a server. It sounds like that feature has been added since we looked at it, which is a very good thing. The more workable options we have as ruby developers, the better.

  6. As Matt said, you can add webrick or mongrel servers in the File/new menu (dont forget to set the mongrel path in the preferences beforehand)

    It is not exactly intuitive, should really be in the context menu or toolbar of the servers view.

    Generally RadRails works great for me, even with a 0.7 version number. Does not have a ton of features yet, but so far (been heavily using it for several weeks) it has been absolutely stable and bug-free on both Linux and Mac OS.

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