Surprising Contender: NetBeans as a Ruby+MySQL IDE

by Tim O'Brien

I'm sure you don't believe it, doesn't seem like NetBeans is going to take the Ruby developer world by storm, but Sun seems to be pouring money into Ruby support. I'm skeptical that the Ruby community is going to embrace Netbeans, but in this entry, I present some hints that NetBeans may be well on its way to becoming the Ruby IDE of choice. The idea that an IDE traditionally associated with Java development is going to take the Ruby world by storm might seem insane at first glance, but read on...


2008-04-26 19:20:27
Netbeans' Ruby and Ruby on Rails support definitely looks very promising. I have started using it for some Ruby projects and am very impressed with the quality of auto completion for Ruby (including things like Ruby expressions inside strings inside Ruby code inside RHTML pages), debugger support, and other Ruby integration features. It definitely seems to be a bit ahead of Eclipse / Aptana right now. For simple stuff, I still resort to Textmate (at least on OSX).
2008-04-26 19:58:07
Perhaps if they make it so you can extend it in jRuby it will be a contender. Maybe they already have; I speak from ignorance.

But I do know that spending a lot of time in an environment that can't be extended in a language you know and enjoy writing in is ultimately a huge frustration unless you are OK with settling for the functionality the authors think you are going to want. But good developers are always experimenting, and this demands a tool that is as flexible as their own imaginations.

2008-04-26 23:38:54
I have tried many IDEs, eclipse, aptana, vim, but for Ruby and Rails Netbeans is the best for me.
2008-04-27 06:39:58
"I’m skeptical that the Ruby community is going to embrace Netbeans"
Yeah, maybe you be surprised, but actually I endorse such projects.

The reason is that we used vim and emacs for too long, both are a problem.

I am happy that GUI editors in general become more attention, i dont want to use either vim or emacs to write my ruby code.

Tim O'Brien
2008-04-27 06:49:25
@markus, I don't disagree, I've been using emacs since the mid-1990s. I use Eclipse for Java, but only because the Emacs equivalent (JDE) doesn't come close to the usability of Eclipse Java. Searching for a type or a resource, being able to quickly navigate. I don't see myself abandoning emacs, but based on some of the feedback from this post, maybe it is time to start taking Netbeans more seriously.
2008-04-27 07:15:17
I'm wondering why Codegear/Borland's Eclipse based 3rdRail Rails-IDE doesn't get more attention. IMHO it's much more mature than Aptana...
2008-04-27 11:03:44
I have been using NetBeans ruby IDE for a couple months now and it is the best IDE I have tried yet.
2008-04-27 16:25:54
I use NetBeans 6 on Windows.

I suppose I could use a text pad or something slim like Notepad2, but NB6 is really, really convenient. It's quite useful.

As for 3rdRail, well... it's not free. Right now it costs exactly $0 to get started with Rails development and some people will probably base their tool selection around that.

2008-04-27 17:14:54
I love me my NetBeans. Add vi editor plugin and git support (coming in 6.1) and it's the closest thing to a perfect integrated environment I've found for Ruby development work. Great job to everyone involved.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the allure of Textmate. And for simple hacking I'm perfectly comfortable in vim. But for large projects that need proper code introspection and quick documentation access, it's tough to beat Netbeans at this point.

2008-04-27 17:16:28
Sorry, meant to say that git support exists as a plugin, but that plugin is only supported in NetBeans 6.1+. That is all. :)
Alex Muntean
2008-04-28 04:53:08
Netbeans 6.0 (the "Ruby" edition) is the editor of choice for maybe a third of our team of 12. The other third (still) uses Aptana and the other third vim. One lonely Emacs guy and one or two Textmate chaps.
I'm with the Netbeans group :) (was using Eclipse w/ the RadRails plugin before) and I'm really looking forward for Netbeans 6.1 and its support for Rails 2.1
Tim O'Brien
2008-04-28 10:49:15
@Alex Muntean, interesting. I'm surprised at the positive feedback for NetBeans. glad to hear that you work in an environment which allows developers some choice about development tools. In the last few "real jobs" I had, the development teams always forced people to use a standard set of tools; I could understand this from a management and support perspective, but I always thought that it, in some way, limited the progression of the team. Freedom to choose development environment + the fact that most have standardized on Netbeans is more fuel for the idea that Netbeans really has released a compelling Ruby environment. (I'm surprised.)
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2008-04-30 08:02:24
@wbondarmunw: i totally agree.

thanks, tim, for the post. i played around w/ nb just after javaone last year too, and came to the same conclusions. i'm going to try 6.1 now to see what's up.

btw, does anyone know whether there's 1.9 support?