Netbeans 6 vs 3rd Rail

Ok, I have to admit that I have been waiting for the new Ruby/Rails development environment from CodeGear (they are the development tools division of Borland), and finally it is released.

At the moment my primary rails development environment is Netbeans 6 beta 1, and being an Eclipse fan, I really wanted to see some action in Eclipse front. My expectations got higher while I was downloading the trial version of 3rd Rails, since the feature matrix had some very nice remarks. First of all, please to all other teams building developer tools for rails: a better console would be nice! Just pressing the up arrow can repeat the last command, can’t it???

3rd Rail has many well thought little gems like this, for example you get a nice console with autocomplete and when you press the up arrow, you get the last command. It might not be important for you, but it matters to me. Jruby also seems to be supported, and that’s nice. Ok, the rest of the feature set seemed impressive too, so I started to test them. The first thing I noticed is that the rails browser view does not have “views” of a Rail app, but has models and controllers. That looked kinda weird, but later I’ve realized that the connection to views is handled through dependencies view, which requires a little bit getting used to. Now I can get used to this, though I’d still like an option to see views in the rails browser view. However there are things that makes it hard to use this feature. First, there is known issue which causes the dependencies view to be updated only when a piece of text is selected. So when I select index method in my controller, dependencies get updated, but when I move around using the keyboard, they stay the same. When this is fixed, it’ll be more usable. I could not manage to get the navigation between controllers and views as claimed in help. When I’m browsing code in a controller, I was supposed to be able to switch to view by holding ctrl+alt and clicking method name, but this does not work. It works the other way though. Still, I’d like to be able to do this using the keyboard, like in Netbeans

As I worked on it more, I realized that 3rd rails has still got some issues. For example, importing an existing project did not work, when I checked the checkbox that makes to project copied to my workspace. When I left the project where it is, I could open it. The real show stopper for me was that I could not find any support for fast debug in 3rd Rail. Sorry CodeGear, but I use it, and all other major competitors provide it. Finally, I wanted to see who else is working on 3rd rails, and checked out CodeGear’s community pages. Guess what, I could not find any forums, or community, maybe that’s my fault but I’d like to be able to get in touch with other users.

So for the moment I’ll stay with Netbeans. I think that 3rd Rails will be a nice product, and I’ll keep checking for the updates. I guess CodeGear hurried a little bit on this one, but I’m sure they’ll make it better. I won’t lie to you, I really like Borland, for a very long time, they produced great tools and technologies, and I want them to continue doing so. I have developed plugins for Eclipse and I still continue to do so, so I can guess that it is not always very easy to use a framework, and when your work depends on an infrastructure that’s provided by others things become complicated no matter how good that infrastructure is. Let’s wait and see, and I hope we’ll have a new ruby ide.

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