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Visual Rails, The Sapphire Language and More - The Year So Far

News Digest
by Huw Collingbourne
Sunday 25 May 2008.

This has been an exceptionally busy year for us. As we are now almost half way through it, I thought this might be a good time to bring you up to date with our major developments (just in case you missed them!) - plus a taster of developments that are yet to come...

Visual Rails, plus Visual Studio for Free!

We’ve released two major new editions of Ruby In Steel this year:

- Ruby In Steel Developer 1.2 with the Visual Rails Workbench

This is our biggest ever update since Ruby In Steel 1.0 was launched over a year ago. Ruby In Steel 1.2 features a unique drag-and-drop visual designer for Ruby On Rails plus a significantly enhanced release of the fast ‘Cylon’ debugger with tracepoints, conditional breakpoints and dynamic debugging. What’s more, if you haven’t got a copy of Visual Studio, we’ll even throw that in at no extra cost! Our All-in-one Installer includes an optional Ruby-language copy of Visual Studio 2008.

- Ruby In Steel Text Edition - $49 including Visual Studio

If you don’t need all the visual design tools or our super-fast ‘Cylon’ debugger, you may be attracted to our low-cost Text Edition. This includes a Ruby and Rails colour-coded and syntax-folding editors, integrated debugging (but not as fast as the Developer Edition debugger). Once again, a free copy of Visual Studio is provided as an option.

- 60-Day Free Trial

We have also extended the Trial Period. You can now evaluate the Developer or Text Editions for 60 days.

More info: Guide To The Visual Rails Workbench - part one | Guide To The Visual Rails Workbench - part two | Import/Export from the Visual Rails Workbench | Debugger Enhancements | Developer and Text Editions - Feature Lists | Learn Ruby In Steel With Movies (screencasts) | Overview of Text Edition | Download page for Ruby In Steel Developer and Text Editions

IronRuby and JRuby

Ruby In Steel is the only fully integrated development environment for Microsoft’s IronRuby for .NET. Our IronRuby edition (which is free) includes a visual form designer plus a full suite of editing features. IronRuby itself is still in the early stages of development and our IDE is in ‘alpha’. IronRuby support is also built into Ruby In Steel Developer 1.2 - and that product features support for the Java-based JRuby too, including a dedicated JRuby debugger, ‘JCylon’.

More info: IronRuby Visual Form designer - part one | IronRuby Visual Form designer - part two | IronRuby Editor | JRuby Debugging | IronRuby Download page

Ruby In Steel 1.3

We already have the next version of Ruby In Steel available in beta (to registered users). The major new feature of this is the IntelliSense Librarian. Ruby In Steel’s IntelliSense inference engine produces completion lists of methods, classes and variables based on its analysis of all the source files loaded or required by your project. But there are some cases when this just isn’t possible. In Rails, for example, the relationships between files are not explicit since files that depend on other files do not, in fact, ‘require’ them - instead, Rails ‘wires them together’ at runtime.

The Librarian provides a way of dealing with this problem. It allows you to pre-compile IntelliSense information from selected groups of files. Not only does this give you enhanced IntelliSense for Rails; in some cases, it also adds a speed boost to IntelliSense. I should say that in most cases, our IntelliSense is close to instantaneous and speed is not an issue. However, in a few cases - notably when there are many levels of ‘requires’ which may demand the analysis of code in numerous large source files - a precompiled IntelliSense database means that you can avoid the potential delays involved when the IntelliSense inference engine loads and analyses those files. If the files have been pre-compiled into a library, the inference engine will use that instead of re-analyzing the source code.

More info: Using The Ruby Librarian

The Sapphire Programming Language

Regular readers of this blog will have heard us talk a good deal about Sapphire. In fact, we first mentioned the Sapphire and Amethyst projects way back in the days when Ruby In Steel itself was still in alpha. In March this year we formally announced the development of the new Sapphire Programming Language. This language:

- has a Ruby-like syntax
- will run on Microsoft’s Dynamic Language Runtime (for .NET)
- will be fast, unambiguous and highly encapsulated/modular

Sapphire is a major future project for SapphireSteel Software. The name of the company demonstrates our commitment to developing a product which will, one day, be called Sapphire In Steel. This does not mean that we will ‘move away from’ Ruby. We are now, as always, committed to providing the most powerful Ruby IDE available on any platform. It is important to understand that Ruby and Sapphire are not competitors - Ruby is a cross-platform scripting language which is, moreover, at the heart of important development frameworks such as Rails; Sapphire, by contrast, will be a fast, highly visual .NET language for robust general-purpose application development.

More info: The Sapphire Programming Language | Sapphire - Defining The Grammar | The Sapphire Language - The Problem of Modules

Learning Ruby - Free Tutorials

If you are learning Ruby, you might be interested in downloading a free copy of The Little Book Of Ruby. Since the release of the first edition in June 2006, this has been downloaded about 40,000 times (in English) from this site alone and an unknown number of times in its Brazilian Portuguese translation. In March 2008, we released an updated edition of the book including all the source code of its example programs. While The Little Book Of Ruby covers the basics of Ruby programming, it doesn’t explore all the highways and byways of the language. If you really want to get to know Ruby in detail, you might be interested in a new project which we announced this month: The Book Of Ruby will go into Ruby in real depth. It will eventually comprise 20 chapters running to more than 400 pages and it will come complete with hundreds of small, ready-to-run sample programs. The Book Of Ruby will be released one chapter at a time. The first chapter is available now with more to follow soon.

More info: Little Book Of Ruby Download Page | The Book Of Ruby Download Page | Introduction To The Book Of Ruby.

As I said, 2008 has been an exceptionally busy year for us so far. Looking at our schedule for the months ahead, it doesn’t seem to me that the pace is slowing up any either. For more information on developments relating to Ruby In Steel, our IronRuby IDE, The Book Of Ruby, Sapphire and Amethyst, be sure to keep an eye on this blog. When we have any news, this is where you’ll hear it first...

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  • Visual Rails, The Sapphire Language and More - The Year So Far
    3 July 2008, by WorldMaker

    Greetings! I was reading through some of your Sapphire posts (following from and it seems to me like you are building what Boo is to Python, Sapphire is to Ruby. I don’t think there’s a competition, but I’m curious if you’ve met Boo ( before?

    • Visual Rails, The Sapphire Language and More - The Year So Far
      3 July 2008, by Huw Collingbourne

      I’ve heard of Boo but haven’t used it. I am always interested to learn from other languages so I’ll be glad to find out more. I’ve just had a quick read through the ’Boo Manifesto’ and I can see there there are one or two things that the language’s author says with which I feel some sympathy. However, I can also see that what he is doing with Boo is significantly different from our aims for Sapphire. I’m not clear on how far Boo strays away from Python. Sapphire will definitely be very unlike Ruby in many important respects. I plan to write a few articles on some of the details of Sapphire here on the Blog soon. I hope these will clear up a few things and I’ll also give some examples of actual Sapphire code. You won’t be able to compile this yet of course. We’ll give more details of the expected release date of the Sapphire compiler later... ;-)

      best wishes


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