Sunday, February 21, 2010

The hunt for a Ruby and Ruby on Rails environment

I have been on a quest for a good setup for having some fun with Ruby and Ruby on Rails. The problem is that I'm an IDE-o-holic, so I need an environment that is both fast and where I feel home.

I am developing on Linux, so I will only consider applications available to me on this platform.

My research has resulted in three alternatives:
  • RadRails from Aptana
  • Eclispe with Dynamic Languages Toolkit
  • Vim/gVim

You might ask yourself "Why vim? Isn't that a text editor?" and you'd be right. But with the right combination of plugins, and the time to learn the shortcuts, it's really powerful.

The plugins you'll want are these:
With this combo you will navigate between models, helpers, controllers and other files of interest with ease, as long as you bother to learn the shortcuts.

Eclipse with Dynamic Languages Toolkit: 

This is the pure IDE I've been looking for. It's fast, it's lightweight and it's familliar to me. To get this setup up and running you'll want these:
This setup gave me ALMOST everything I needed. I am on familiar grounds, and it is fast as hell. One problem though, there is no *.erb syntax highlighting (or coloring as Eclipse calls it). This is pretty frustrating, and I haven't been able to work around it completely.

Last but not least:

Aptana RadRails

To get this up and running, you fetch it here:
This is really a complete package, so if you want to get up and running fast, this is it. The webpage can tell you more about its features than I will bother to write here.

Personally I think RadRails is too bloated with features and it feels sluggish for my tastes. It's been a while since I tested Aptana RadRails, so things might've improved, but I feel like it needs to be mentioned in this list.

Read below why I have striked through this.


I ended up with a combination. I am using Eclipse with Dynamic Languages Toolkit for editing pure Ruby files, and through Eclipse I open ERB files in gVim.

This works pretty well for me. I have an environment that is lightning fast and where I get all the features from an IDE I care about.

Update 25.02.2010:
I have now tried RadRails for the past couple of days and I must really say it has improved since last time I used it. It now feels both fast and responsive, and it really does package everything I need into one neat package. I am going to try RadRails for a while now, it really does offer a lot for being free!


  1. Once I started using RubyMine, I've not been able to touch anything else for Rails development.