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…
Sun is focused on developer market share…
…nothing else. Pouring money into Ruby support and acquiring MySQL for a cool billion play into this perfectly. While everyone has been moaning about the Death of Java for years, it remains the biggest draw on Safari, and the biggest book market. Ruby has the fastest growing community. My conspiracy theory is that the MySQL acquisition coupled with the HUGE Netbeans focus means that Sun is after you. Sun sees Ruby as having the energy, they want to channel your mojo. (JavaOne should really be renamed at this point, I predict they are going to talk about Ruby almost as much as Java this year.)
Which brings me to NetBeans…
Kovacs Pitches a Curveball
Sun relentlessly pushes NetBeans at every conference, to the point where every time I’m in a Sun presentation I expect someone to relate it back to The Great IDE: NetBeans. Almost every time I talk to some Sun PR operative they are talking to me about NetBeans. I’ve met some people that use NetBeans, but most tend to use either Eclipse or IntelliJ. Michael Kovacs writes about his past and present view of NetBeans over on his blog in “So long TextMate?… Hello NetBeans? Really? Yeah, really.”
Michael Kovacs: I’ll admit it, I’m one of many folks that used to treat NetBeans as a whipping boy. Questioning why Sun would bother dumping money into the horse that so obviously lost the race to Eclipse and IntelliJ to win the hearts and minds of Java developers around the world.
Michael Kovacs: I grabbed a nightly build of 6.1 and installed it. Right away I noticed that they made a special build for ruby where they’ve stripped it down to where it is focused on supporting ruby and rails apps. They added a theme that looks similar to textmate to make me feel more at home. Many keybindings are similar to Textmate (though not all but they are easily configurable). You can easily debug your rails apps with the graphical debugger. The generators work. Code completion works okay at times. API docs are easily visible inline during code completion. Navigating around the project is now easy where before that was the single biggest outage that kept me from even considering it. You can easily jump to type definitions. Simple refactoring is supported…..
Right, last time I installed Netbeans was just after last year’s JavaOne, and I came away with the idea that it was weighty, not very agile. I forget how big the download was, but it was more than Eclipse. I’m convinced there are some great things about the tool, and that it has come a long way, but I’m still somewhat incredulous. Although, Kovacs is no Sun fanboy, so his post got my attention.
So, let’s just assume that Kovacs is right and NetBeans is a real contender now… enter MySQL..
James Hints at NetBeans 6.5: MySQL Integration
You’ll probably warm up to NetBeans 6.5 once it becomes MySQL Administrator and MySQL Query Analyzer. James from Sun Discusses MySQL Support in NetBeans 6.5 and you can see list of planned database features for NetBeans 6.5. Maybe we’ll see the existing MySQL tools integrated in situ… from the wiki:
…MySQL WorkBench will solve this if we can integrate with it in some way…
Now that might give me a real reason to start using the tool. If Sun really wanted to be draconian about it they would absorb MySQL Administrator and MySQL Query Browser into NetBeans and make NetBeans the only way to run the tools. Now, if NetBeans became the supported way to manage MySQL, many Rails programmers would find themselves with an installation of NetBeans (with integrated MySQL Administrator, Query Browser, and Workbench). Then they can start attracting you to NetBeans Ruby support….. then after that they start to convince you to start deploying applications using JRuby…. then they dangle something like Glassfish integration in front of you and XA transactions (because everyone ends up needing them).
I’m still skeptical, but I’m going to RubyOne….. err… JavaOne with open eyes. If Kovacs is right, then NetBeans might just turn into the logical choice.
Netbeans Rails Support
If you are interested in seeing what Netbeans has to offer wrt Rails, take a look at Tor Norbye’s blog.
(Time to stop) Stubbornly Clinging to Emacs
I still use Emacs for Ruby programming, everytime I’ve tried to get into something like Aptana, I’ve been frustrated by this or that. Eclipse can become a bloated hog very quickly, and Aptana’s array of confusingly named products doesn’t help. I often wish that I could go back in time and dissuade the Aptana guys from contacting the RadRails project, Aptana tries to do too much IMO - All I want is a Ruby IDE, and I get some sort of crazy “Ajax server” called Jaxer.
Although I use Eclipse with success in other languages, I’ve never seen the need for an IDE in Ruby. I said the same thing about Java up until 2002 when it became abundantly clear that the language complexity was forcing me to adopt an IDE. That hasn’t happened to me yet with Ruby. Even with greater MySQL integration, I’m still not convinced I would make the jump to an IDE for Rails. It is likely time to revisit Netbeans.