I’ve been watching Tor Norbye grinding away on NetBeans 6, and couldn’t wait any more, so I went and downloaded a daily build, and it seems to kinda work. Up till now, all my Ruby work has been in Emacs, but the NB6 pre-pre-alpha trumps it.

NB 6 dev build Projects read-out

One thing that impresses me in the project read-out above is that it’s picked up the CVS check-in status of all the files in the Ape project.

Mind you, pre-alpha code does have some issues; I had to restart NetBeans a half-dozen times to get the Ruby modules out of the update center and into action. Also, if you go get NB6, particularly for Ruby work, here’s some advice: start it up, then go for a cup of coffee while it indexes the Java universe. Then, when you first open a Ruby project, go get another cup of coffee; pre-indexing Ruby takes longer than Java. [Update: Just to be clear, this is only the first time you run NB.]

I hit another bug; upon first start-up, it asked me if I wanted to import my NB5 settings and promptly crashed when I said “yes”. This actually led to a pleasant surprise: I noticed that NB was supporting the Emacs control-F/B/N/P/A/E keystrokes apparently out of the box.

The core editing window has a bunch of improvements; the one I liked was that when you’ve got a syntax error, there’s a little doohickey in the margin that you mouse over to get the details, as opposed to the whole line being “hot”.

Here’s a sample of the syntax highlighting. I’m not sure I agree 100% with all the choices, but it’s sure easy to read. This is the function for fishing links out of Atom entries.

Code for Ape::Entry#link

The NB toolbar is ridiculously cluttered and busy; who needs a button for “Open File” anyhow? I whacked it back to the minimum, and since I use the hide-and-reveal-on-mouse-over for the Projects, Files, Runtime, and Navigator windows, my NB is a lean, mean coding machine.

I’ve run across a few bugs in the more advanced features, haven’t got around to filing them yet. There was one indentation bug that seemed really moronic so I emailed the file to Tor and said “Guess I should file this, right?” and he wrote back “I did, and the fix is in the Update Center.” So if you’re interested in alternate editing environments for Ruby, right now seems like a good time to shake this one down and feed back on it.

NB6 seems awfully solid for something that’s not even advertised as an alpha yet. I don’t know when they’re thinking of shipping. Next time I do some Java tinkering I’ll give NB6 a try and report back. In the meantime, Emacs has lost its grip on my Ape and Blog-Commenting projects.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Matt Chaput (Feb 26 2007, at 20:39)

The misaligned pseudo-Mac-faux-Vista theme in that screenshot makes me very sad.


From: peter royal (Feb 26 2007, at 22:24)

if you're doing ruby hacking on the mac, seriously consider textmate: http://macromates.com/


From: Jason R Briggs (Feb 26 2007, at 23:06)

Annoyingly, while I've found PHP, Ruby, Javascript, and even shellscript support in the Netbeans 6 Update Center, I can't find any reference to Python (or Jython).

Which is disappointing.

And unfortunately, all the dailies I've tried in the past few months (including the one today) have been a bit too buggy to be useable.

Back to 5.5 for the moment...


From: Benjamin Ferrari (Feb 27 2007, at 02:22)

"One thing that impresses me in the project read-out above is that it’s picked up the CVS check-in status of all the files in the Ape project."

Emacs does this too if you have the ECB extension installed.

See: http://platypope.org/yada/emacs-demo/


From: Rick Moynihan (Feb 27 2007, at 03:44)

There is a good screencast showing the extent to which emacs can be customised to enhance operation with ruby/rails.


I must admit that Tor seems to be doing a great job with Netbeans 6 and Ruby support, though I haven't actually run it yet.


From: 1gor (Feb 27 2007, at 06:29)

A blow to Emacs? Well, Emacs is only getting stronger from blows :)

Have you seen the latest Emacs tool for Ruby/Rails development?

It has all the 'cool' features from other popular tools provide (Eclipse or TextMate) - such as code snippet expansion, project navigation etc.

But it has none of the bloat associated with Java apps. Emacs is rock-stable and fast. And you have access to thousands lines of excellent code written for Emacs over the years. You can work with ruby debugger, access database, manage source control etc etc.

You can see an example of Rails programming on Emacs in action in this screencast: http://emacsonrails.drozdov.net/


From: Hox (Feb 27 2007, at 07:23)

peter - until textmate supports one frame/multiple tabs or buffers for non-projects, i'll pass. i can't stand having a million windows open around my screen for unrelated text editing.


From: murphee (Werner Schuster) (Feb 27 2007, at 07:50)

Of course, if you want stable Ruby IDE support, simply use Eclipse RDT:


Ignore the ancient website, the project is very much alive and is gearing up for another release, adding many editing and other features.

BTW: it also has a Debugger UI (the standard Eclipse GUI for debugging) which makes setting breaktpoints and debugging code as easy as it is for Java code (the new release also makes use of ruby-debug, a faster way of debugging Ruby code than the standard debug.rb).

There's also support for editing, running and debugging JRuby with the upcoming http://rubyforge.org/projects/rdt-jruby/ plugin that plugs into RDT.

So... make use of the best tools that are already around..


From: Kurt Christensen (Feb 27 2007, at 10:13)

Looks nice, although the Ruby plugin for IntelliJ looks like it's a little further along, including Rails support.


From: Chris Rijk (Feb 27 2007, at 13:39)

According to the NetBeans roadmap:


NB beta is scheduled for May, and final release in November.


From: Tor Norbye (Feb 27 2007, at 14:24)

Thanks Tim! I just posted a new screenshot which shows the highlighting in a bit more detail - on your ape.rb itself (although I edited it slightly to add some more interesting things into a single screen)



From: Trung Duc Tran (Feb 27 2007, at 15:03)

(I work for Sun and NetBeans.org)

Re comments on Emacs: (speaking as a recovered emacs addict, my ~/.emacs has a few thousands lines) I know any argument is futile :-) but for me the single biggest reason to switch to IDEs is smart code completion. I haven't seen anything even close in emacs

Re NetBeans/Ruby vs others: the Rails support is lacking, the debugger hasn't been integrated yet. It's work in progress. What Tor & Co concentrate on now is the editing part. This is the hardest part and we are aiming high. You know code completion for duck-typing languages....

Re bloat: we are considering creating a special "Ruby Edition" for NB which has only the modules Ruby developers care about, no Java, C/C++, etc. The download would be around 15MB or even smaller. Are you interested?

Re python/jython: besides Ruby NetBeans is building a multi-lang support framework. Good code completion for python/jython would still be hard but getting the support to the level that it could be useful (syntax coloring, indentation, projects, debugging,...) should not be too hard. We want to work on *good* support for Ruby first. Better to have one quality feature than a dozen so-so ones. Contributions are very welcome, as always. It's open source.


From: sa (Feb 28 2007, at 05:20)

I blogged lately about NetBeans and its competitors,

You can have a look here : http://tnlessone.wordpress.com/2007/02/28/ruby-rails-ide-comparison-idea-netbeans-radrails/

My Editor of choice for the moment with Ruby / Rails is NetBeans



From: Pat Eyler (Feb 28 2007, at 08:49)


Re: Re: Bloat: I'm a long time emacs user, but I'd love to see a Ruby specific NetBeans. It might not convince me to move over to NetBeans, but I know it would make a lot of Rubyists here at work happy.


From: robert (Mar 01 2007, at 17:46)

I'll be happy when eclipse/NB get around to doing vi. I know, modal editing doesn't fit. Carpal tunnel from all those three finger salutes is worse. The folks at SlickEdit managed to do it, so it can be done.


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights

February 26, 2007
· Technology (77 fragments)
· · Java (123 more)
· · Ruby (93 more)

By .

I am an employee
of Amazon.com, but
the opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.