Ruby in Steel first experiences

I remember being curious about this project in the past, but it was in infancy and on the homepage they were saying that many things don’t work, so I decided to pass. This time it is much more mature project.

First one of the best IDE’s, Visual Studio, is customized to work with one of the best, if not the best, web frameworks ie. RubyOnRails. Having work with Visual Studio on projects, I know how much it means to have everything there and intellisense is really crucial, but other aspects, like database integration, debugging are also something no development should be without.

I am coming to this from Aptana, which is based on Eclipse, which since written in Java is sluggish and slow, tend to crash occasionally. Still Aptana is decent ide that helps a lot in development. VS is at least one class above, if not whole two classes above.

First you can debugging, in both ruby and in rails. This alone can be single reason to use this IDE. When I say debugging, I don’t mean some wimpy debugger where you have to type and explore by using command line and it just let you break on certain line. VS or Ruby in Steel is real thing, you get everything, you can click on objects and see all the properties, if there is deeper level, you click on the plus and explore it deeper. Based on first glance, you get everything you would get with, just with rails, which is awesome.

Code editor is great, it is real enjoyment to type, it is intelligent, it formats and indents your code, close open definitions, classes etc. In one work, very smart. First thing you notice is how responsive it is, there is no delay, everything is instant. Since I got text version to try, I didn’t get to see all the intellisense goodies, but what I saw was good enough for me. Also in text version you get command line to type generate and rake commands, in other full version you get to click and select. I think of this as nice to have, as by now I am used to typing them and it is not a big deal, in fact it is nice to type generate model mymodel and you see how it generates files etc.

Once nice thing I noticed is that it has for example right click and you can say go to definition, and it will find the file and open at definition of method. This is extremely useful feature.

Overall I can only praise this IDE, it brings the best of one world into another. I would love if I had a chance to test Borlands 3rd Rail as well, as they were King of IDE in the past. There is some glitch in the installation procedure that doesn’t allow me to active it and when I wrote support they didn’t really helped me much. Anyway, since 3rd Rail also have refactoring, which RiS doesn’t, it would be interesting to be able to compare.

Full version of Ruby in Steel is $200, while so called Text version, which is stripped of some features is $50. I think this is pretty great, I don’t think it would hurt much if Full version was $100, it would be better for developers and they most likely would make more money.

This is all great news for both Ruby and Rails developers as there are at least 3-4 solid choices for IDE’s.

Here is summary of choices:

There is Aptana with RadRails, which is excellent choice and while you can get community version for free, professional version is $99 for year of support. This looks like pretty good deal to me, having used RadRails and later Aptana for quite some time, I think they are very good choices.

Very interesting IDE, Komodo IDE from Active State. It is priced $295, you can do development in Rails, PHP, Python etc. I’ve been using it for some time for PHP work and it is very attractive choice, very responsive, smart editor, intellisense completion.

Borland a.k.a. CodeGear 3rd Rail is probably choice that might have most features of all, yet aside from impressive screencasts I was not able to try it out. Price $399.

And Ruby in Steel, now that I tried it, I must admit I like it a lot. Text version for $50 and $200 for Full version.


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