CodeGear offers IDE for Ruby on Rails

Developers get tool for building apps with open source Web framework

CodeGear is today releasing CodeGear 3rdRail, an IDE for building applications with the popular Ruby on Rails open source Web framework.

The product gives Rails developers, who have been mostly relying on text editors, their own IDE, Borland said. Developers have flocked to Ruby on Rails for its speed and ease of use in building rich Web 2.0 applications, CodeGear said.

"We've been watching the Rails framework grow in popularity for the last year, and we worked with it ourselves, and we're really excited about the capabilities of the Rails framework. We recognize that there's an opportunity for somebody to provide a really solid tool for Rails and one that is built just for doing that," said Joe McGlynn, director of product management at CodeGear.

"Everything in the tool is focused on just building Rails applications," McGlynn said.

3rdRail includes a feature called Commanders, which provides a variety of capabilities intended to ease the development process, including the ability to run scripts. Command completion and option completion functions are offered that are similar to code completion capabilities for writing code. "It's a keystroke that gives you a pop-up list of what you can do," said McGlynn.

A hyperlinking-of-output function offered as part of Commanders can link to files and directories in different areas of a project, making it easier to navigate files.

Intelligent code completion and refactoring also are featured. Code completion is particularly useful for building Rails applications because a lot of the methods developers will want to call do not exist until runtime. Developers can write code against methods that are generated dynamically, McGlynn said.

Developers with 3rdRail can more efficiently traverse application structures, CodeGear said. A dependency view uses a combination of syntactic and semantic analysis to view project interdependencies.

A turnkey Ruby on Rails runtime environment is packaged with 3rdRail. It includes databases; Gems, a component packaging and distribution mechanism for Ruby; the Gem manager; and tools. 3rdRail is plug-in-compatible with the Eclipse platform.

Web development tools bundled with the product include the Mozilla browser, JavaScript debugging, and DOM inspection.

The creator of Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson, could not be reached for comment on 3rdRail late last week. But CodeGear supplied this prepared statement from him: "CodeGear's new 3rdRail IDE represents an important step in tooling for Ruby on Rails," Hansson said. "They've gone beyond macros and generators and dealt with Rails code on a logical rather than merely textual level. This opens up a whole new world for things like advanced re-factorings and, in general, provides an environment that's familiar to anyone coming from IDE-heavy environments like .Net or J2EE."

3rdRail is available at an introductory price of US$299, including a one-year subscription featuring quarterly product updates. The planned fourth-quarter update adds code validation, for scanning of code and looking for potential bugs. The first update for 2008 focuses on test management, for automatic building and running of unit tests and functional tests for an application.

CodeGear had pre-announced the product this past spring. The announcement of Monday's release of 3rdRail is being made at the RailsConf Europe conference in Berlin.

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