Categories: Comment, Ruby, Web Development

Netbeans 6.0 M9 – now with Ruby + Rails support!

Oh boy, it seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon! I’ve just been over to Netbeans, where I saw that there is a preview release (M9) of Netbeans 6.0, and lo and behold – Ruby and Rails support! Mind you, I never bothered to check whether someone had created Ruby/Rails plugins for Netbeans, so I’m not sure whether this is the culmination of long-term work from another project. It sure comes as a surprise to me!

It was only in my fairly recent hunt for a Ruby/Rails IDE that I came across Radrails, which has subsequently been merged with Aptana, which I must say, makes for a killer combination, and which I’m hoping will evolve into a really great IDE. And now this! I will have no choice but to check it out!

For me, this brings an old problem to the fore. When it came to choosing between Netbeans and Eclipse, I’ve always been incredibly torn between the two. Netbeans’ GUI building support has always been far superior, especially in more recent times with the advent of Matisse. Eclipse, on the other hand, has (for me at least) always had the better code editing and debugging features and more flexible workspace layout, which made it my Java IDE of choice (as I never really did much Java client UI development).

I must say, the screenshots and demos look very spiffy (as they always do). Netbeans’ site just kicks the Eclipse website’s butt all the way to the farthest regions of the galaxy. I could never understand why the Eclipse consortium don’t put more effort into their site. If, like me, you’re fooled by flashy and cool-looking websites, then on that measure alone Netbeans is the coollest and best. The Eclipse site is all about the processes and community (boring!), with very little focus on the actual products – but do you think anyone listens?

What’s really ironic about this whole thing, is how, if you read about how Java developers are supposedly leaving J2EE in droves in favour of Rails (I mentioned something about this in a previous post – this goes back a few years), is that the (arguably) two leading Java IDEs are providing a platform for Ruby and Rails tools. I guess this will introduce even more Java developers to the astounding language that is Ruby, and the astonishing web framework that is Rails.

So, what’s Eclipse going to do now? It seems that they are starting to play catch-up to Netbeans, where a few years ago, they were making big strides in terms of innovation (although that might have been riding on the legacy left by IBM). I’m starting to wonder if the backing by a single company (like Sun in the case of Netbeans) is not perhaps better than a consortium, where things may be a little over-engineered. (Mind you, Sun is Java, for all intensive purposes). For one, Eclipse is trailing as far as its support for J2EE goes (think JSF and visual construction of websites here). And now, with Aptana providing the leading (open source) support for Ruby and Rails on the Eclipse platform, what next steps will the Eclipse consortium take?

Back to Ruby/Rails on Netbeans: This flash demo of the now allegoric Blogging application, featuring the smooth, accented narrative of Roman Strobl, gives some really nice insight into Netbeans’ Rails tooling. You have my vote, Roman! One thing I would really like to see (maybe the commercial Rails IDEs have this), is better support for migrations, perhaps in the form of auto-generated migrations scripts. Now that would be something!

Off to explore further…

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