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Ruby On Rails IDE - Different from ’Ruby IDE’?

Moving towards the Visual Rails Edition...
by Huw Collingbourne
Thursday 28 June 2007.

What makes a great ‘Ruby On Rails’ IDE? This is a question that we’ve been debating for many months now. Ruby In Steel has always had built-in support for Rails - everything from RHTML syntax colouring and code folding to dedicated Rake and Generate dialogs, not to mention Rails IntelliSense and debugging.

But, frankly, that still isn’t good enough. What we have today compares well with other Rails IDEs but, even so, there are still plenty more things that would be nice to have.

Version 1.0 through to 1.1 of Ruby In Steel has concentrated principally on providing good support for ‘pure’ Ruby development. To that end, we have the fast ‘Cylon’ debugger, analytical IntelliSense, a broad range of Ruby editing and project management tools and so on. Rails is a different ballgame, however. Even Rails IntelliSense is a challenge; this is due to the fact that Ruby programs in Rails are not ‘complete’ - they are not runnable in the Ruby interpreter and so, equally, they are not runnable by the IntelliSense engine (which is itself a special type of Ruby interpreter). We do OK for Rails IntelliSense in Ruby In Steel 1.1 - but we’ll do a great deal better in 1.2.

Ruby In Steel 1.2 is what we call our ‘Rails Edition’. As I said earlier, we already offer pretty good support for Rails. But in 1.2, our Rails support will move up a few gears. For example, the RHTML editor will have more editing features including RHTML snippets and navigational extras to help you move quickly between related parts of a Rails application (controllers and views etc.).

Visual Rails

The really big new feature in version 1.2, however, will be the Visual Rails Workbench. We committed ourselves to this long ago, as you will see in our published Roadmap, and I’m pleased to say that the development is coming along well. It has always been a frustration to us that full-page web design has been difficult or impossible when using embedded Ruby (RHTML) pages. The Visual Rails Workbench will address this deficiency, taking the guesswork out of creating good-looking Rails web sites.

Not that we are forgetting Ruby itself, of course. If you read this Blog regularly, you will have noticed one new tool that will probably be of interest to most Ruby programmers using Visual Studio. The Ruby Connector will let you create visual front-ends to your Ruby programs using one of the standard Visual Studio languages such as C# or VB. This will let you create form-based input screens for Ruby applications, run Ruby programs in a console or just ‘call out’ to Ruby from C# when you suddenly get an urge to do some metaprogramming.

Ruby In Steel 1.2 (the ‘Visual Rails’ Edition) will be available later in the year. However, our registered users will have early access to beta versions within a matter of weeks.

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