Updated on 12/11/07
Here’s a breakdown of Ruby on Rails IDEs for Windows. Please feel free to add to this by adding a comment to this blog entry. I currently switch between RoRED (writing and navigating code) and Netbeans (GUI debugging)
I broke it down in 2 types. Free vs. Commercial
RoRED is a low-frills alternative to Netbeans and Aptana. I’m using it exclusively at the moment because Netbeans is too clunky and I love the MVC tabs. It doesn’t have as many features, but is a nice quick and easy IDE. My favorite things about RoRED (in priority order):
- Very lightweight (only 7MB in RAM on my Vista tablet)
- Special tabs for Model-Views-Controller grouping! This is very nice because you can psychologically group code by functionality as opposed to folder. I use RoRED instead of Netbeans on many occasions just for this feature alone!!!
- How it generally uses tabs/panes insead of hierarchal trees (eg. methods within controllers, MVC tabs).
- Ability to load existing RoR projects without a “New Project” process or wizard. You can analyze someone else’s project or tutorial quickly.
- Global search (search across files) is pretty cool. Searching is quick and the search results windows goes transparent when you click on one of the search result rows.
- Ability to quickly switch between the controller and view of a particular method (which is probably available in most IDEs)
The things I don’t like are
- Can only load one RoR application at a time (takes too long to re-open all open files when switching projects)
- Autocomplete is very slow (and not that impressive). Very annoying when you type an open parentheses and it waits for autocomplete
Since I have 4GB RAM on my Lenovo tablet, I can take advantage of all its rich features. When I launched Netbeans 6.0 M10 with three RoR projects loaded, the Windows process (java.exe) ended up being a whopping 150MB (as opposed to 7MB with RoRED)! Not for the faint hearted.
I’ve seen 2 blog entries claiming that it’s now better than Aptana. I put the dates because obviously opinions change fast.
What I like about Netbeans
- GUI debugger!
- Shut down your existing web server!
Run -> Attach Debugger
Run -> Debug Main Project
- Veify that debugger is running (
Window -> Output -> Output)
- Warning: sometimes the breakpoint won’t hit
- Integration with Subversion, so I can do a quick diff in the editor
- Ability to easily create project from an existing Ruby On Rails application
- Local history and the ability to label and delete each entry in the local history (
Versioning -> Local History)
What I don’t like about Netbeans
- Launches very slowly! And is a memory hog!
- Seems to index every Rails project every time you launch Netbeans, which is very slow
- Autocomplete can be slow (2 to 5 seconds)
- Creates a directory called “
nbproject” in your Rails root directory. I have Subversion ignore it.
Used to be RadRails, but recently bought by Aptana. It was a little clunky and flaky when I used it as Radrails a few months ago. See Aptana vs Netbeans articles above.
Supposed to include some re-factoring, but haven’t tried it. Seems pretty primitive.
Ride-ME (Rails IE – Minus Eclipse)
A few months ago, it was buggy and not very impressive
Released a version in July 2007. Haven’t tried it but screenshots look good. Hopefully it would be lighterweight than Netbeans
Ruby in Steel $200 + price of Visual Studio
Runs on top of Visual Studio, which very nice but obviously a resource hog
Nothing stood out about it when I tried the trial version
IntelliJ IDEA $500
One of the best IDEs ever made, but I hear it’s so big and clunky nowadays, that it’s almost impossible to use. See ruby-rails-ide-comparison-idea-netbeans-radrails