Developers looking for a programming language that is easy to master, need fewer lines of code, and has great frameworks will always fall in love with Ruby.
On top of coding skills, developers need an IDE to write, debug and compile their code. However, the modern world has hundreds of IDEs and code editors, and determining which one to use on Ruby can be challenging.
This article will define IDEs, explain why you need them, and review some of the best Ruby IDEs you can use today.
What is an IDE?
Integrated Development Environment, IDE, is a software application that combines a code editor, build automation tools, and a debugger.
Ruby IDEs are software applications that provide comprehensive software development for Ruby applications. Different Ruby IDEs have different features and customizations. However, all of them aim to provide a streamlined process of writing, testing, and debugging Ruby code.
These are the roles of Ruby IDEs;
- Automating code editing: Ruby follows certain rules on how statements should be written/ presented. A Ruby IDE knows these rules and will thus come with intelligent features that will write or even edit the source code.
- Highlighting syntax: When you look at Ruby code, you may note that some elements are in different colors, bold or even italics. Such a setting makes it easy to read the code.
- Compilation: Ruby code is designed to be readable by humans. However, your operating system needs code written in a language it can understand. IDEs convert Ruby human-readable code into machine-readable code.
- Debugging: Bugs are common when writing code. An IDE will highlight some of the errors in real time and suggest how to fix some.
- Testing: IDEs allow you to automate unit tests for your Ruby code before embarking on complex tests.
- Intelligent code completion: Some IDEs will give suggestions once you start typing your code. This approach reduces bugs and the time you spend writing your code.
How to select Ruby IDE
- Platform compatibility: The ideal IDE should work with your operating system irrespective of whether you are using Windows, Linux, or macOS.
- Cost: IDEs can either be free, freemium or paid. Compare what different IDEs offer against their pricing.
- Integration with other tools: You need an assortment of tools when building Ruby applications. The ideal IDE should integrate seamlessly with version control tools, among other tools.
- Usability: Ease of use is important if productivity matters to you. Such an IDE should allow you to switch from one feature to another seamlessly.
- Support and community: A good IDE should be well-documented. The ideal IDE should also have a community forum where users interact, ask questions, and get solutions.
These are the best Ruby IDEs you should try:
RubyMine, a product of JetBrains, presents itself as “The Most Intelligent Ruby and Rails IDE.” This IDE highlights syntax, offers code completion, and also comes with refactoring tools to streamline your development process.
- Smart Code Editor: The code editor is intelligent enough to note the language you are using. This code editor allows you to easily format your code, highlight errors, and create documentation.
- Embedded terminal: You can run all your commands within the built-in terminal on RubyMine.
- Version Control Integration: You can easily manage your code from the IDE as RubyMine integrates with version control such as Git, Mercurial, and SVN.
- Detects and eliminates code smells: RubyMine allows you to follow development best practices through code inspections to detect common errors and highlight how to fix them.
- Customizations: You can work around with RubyMine and customize the keyboard schemes and colors.
RubyMine is a paid IDE but has a 30-day free trial. The paid options start from US $229.00 per user for the first year.
Sublime Text is a versatile cross-platform editor supported on macOS, Windows, and Linux. The basic design of Sublime Text is plain, but you can transform it into a powerful IDE through plugins and extensions.
- Screen and panels: You can display text files in different ways. Such an approach makes it easy to refer to different files as you code.
- Simultaneous editing: Using this feature, you can make the same edit at different places in your Ruby project.
- Comes with a command palette: The command palette, accessible through Ctrl + Shift + P (Windows/Linux) or Cmd + Shift + P (Mac) displays various commands. Using the command palette, you can switch syntax or even open files.
- Auto-completion and syntax highlights: This code editor will highlight errors in your code and even provides autocomplete feature to ease the code-writing process.
- Plugins and extensions: You can unleash the beast in Sublime Text through various add-ons that allow you to inspect, run, debug, and test your code.
Sublime Text gives you unlimited time to try it before you buy. As you use this IDE, a pop-up reminding you to buy the license will often appear on your screen. License fees start from $80.
- Multiplatform: You can use Aptana Studio on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.
- Built-in terminal: You can run commands right from this IDE’s terminal and save time.
- Deployment wizard: Once you are done coding, you can use FTP, Capistrano, SFTP, and FTPS to deploy your app. This tool also has an automatic publishing feature for Ruby on Rails apps.
- Customizable environment: You can always customize Aptana Studio to suit your needs and preferences. You can play around with color themes and so much more.
- Integrated debugger: You can catch bugs early enough and reduce testing time.
Aptana Studio is open-source and free. This tool is maintained by a big community that also develops extensions and plugins.
Komodo IDE is a cross-platform integrated development environment for web and mobile developers.
- Intelligent code editor: Komodo IDE is your assistant, as it can detect syntax errors and do autocomplete as you write your code.
- Ruby console: You can execute Ruby commands from Komodo’s Ruby console, and test and debug your code.
- Extensible: You can customize and extend the features of your app using various add-ons. For instance, you can use Task Runner to automate tests.
- Version control integration: You can manage your code from this IDE as it supports Git, CVS, Mercurial, and Subversion.
- Live preview: You don’t have to leave your code editor to view what is rendered on the browser, as Komodo IDE gives a side-by-side preview as you edit your code.
Komodo IDE is a paid software whose pricing starts from $295/ user. However, this software has a free plan known as Komodo Edit, which comes with limited functionalities.
AWS Cloud9 is a cloud-based IDE where you can write, run and debug code from the browser. This IDE is among the top-rated IDEs for programmers and comes with the essential Ruby tools, meaning you don’t have to configure anything to start writing and running Ruby code.
- Browser-based IDE: No need to download heavy applications on your PC as AWS Cloud9 allows you to enjoy all the features of a powerful IDE from your browser. This IDE supports most modern browsers, such as Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome.
- Supports serverless applications. This IDE configures SDKs, libraries, and plug-ins with a development environment to help you build serverless apps.
- Real-time collaboration. AWS Cloud 9 allows team members to collaborate on a Ruby project with a few clicks.
- Integrated terminal. You do not have to switch between your browser and terminal, as this IDE comes with an integrated terminal.
- AWS integration. AWS Cloud9 links you to AWS resources such as AWS Lambda functions and Amazon EC2 instances.
AWS Cloud9 is a paid IDE. However, you can use it for free up to 750 hours/month for 1 Year. After exhausting those hours, you attract a fee based on the resources you consume.
Selenium IDE is an open-source tool for writing, running, and debugging test cases. This browser-based IDE is available as a plugin for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers.
- Web-ready: After installing the Selenium IDE extension, you don’t need extra configuration; start writing, debugging, and running tests immediately.
- Debugger: Take advantage of features such as pausing on exceptions and setting breakpoints to debug your code.
- Command-line Runner: Without writing any code, this tool allows you to run all your tests on any browser on a Grid and in parallel. You can launch this tool using the right commands in a few clicks.
- Control flow: Selenium IDE allows you to add looping and logic to your tests through various commands. This setting allows your Ruby app to execute commands only when certain conditions are met.
Selenium IDE is free and open-source. The project has a big global community that contributes to its maintenance.
You now have several options of IDEs that you can use irrespective of whether you are creating your app using vanilla Ruby or using various Ruby frameworks. The choice of an IDE will depend on the features you are looking for and pricing. Most of these tools will come with extensions/ plugins that you must set up for them to execute Ruby code.