I am a Microsoft Windows developer by day, writing C# .NET Windows client and web application to make a living. I use Visual Studio 2005 for my day-to-day work and I have to say, I am spoiled by many of the features Microsoft has baked into the application.
I am also infatuated by Ruby and Ruby on Rails and the developer productivity I can realize with using the language and it’s primary framework, Rails. Although Ruby runs on so many different operating systems, Rails developers seem to be either Apple Macintosh users and therefore Unix developers or they use some flavor of Linux.
Being the Windows developer that I am, I have to admit it has been difficult for me to feel productive at all trying to learn Linux, MySQL, Ruby and a new text editor, be it TextMate or even Emacs. The learning curve for all of these technologies is quite steep to be productive. All of the commands in Linux alone is overwhelming, combined with setting up and configured Apache for the web server is crazy. Yes, I am a Windows developer and probably spoiled a bit but I like my tools.
So, the point of my post…a great development environment in Windows is Visual Studio .NET 2005 and combine that with a great add-in for Ruby development from Sapphire in Steel Software called Ruby in Steel and you have a great Ruby and Ruby on Rails development environment. I am learning Ruby and Ruby on Rails and I am not familiar enough with the libraries to be productive and Ruby in Steel gives me a great tool known as Intellisense. Yes, Intellisense for Ruby, imagine the concept. It’s one key piece missing from all those Mac and Linux Ruby developers out there. Visual Studio developers are spoiled by Intellisense but I think it’s a necessary tool for productive development on any platform. It just doesn’t make sense to me to not use it or look for a tool which has it.
Ruby in Steel is a wonderful tool, in version 1.0 even. The price tag of $199 right now is also a steal. Sure, I can develop for free but the time saved by not having to look up methods of an object is worth the $199 price.
Here is an shot of the development environment from the Sapphire in Steel site:
and here is another image showing Rails development:
As you can see this is native development for a Microsoft Windows Visual Studio .NET developer.
Ruby in Steel also integrates with many of the Rails tools, such as:
The nice thing about using this tool is all of the integration under-the-hood manages the Ruby and Gem environment just like I typed it in from the command line. This makes it nice so I can learn Ruby and Rails and not have to worry about some of the support functions up front, I can learn as I go.
I am not alone as a Rails-wannabe-developer stuck in a Microsoft world. There is a great web site called Softies on Rails which I read often. These guys have lived in the Microsoft world and transitioned over successfully, so they understand both sides.
I have a project I am developing in Rails which I will make into a commercially available product for a monthly fee along with a free version, the same model 37Signals uses. I will document my real-world use of Ruby in Steel and how well it works for me to manage deployment and such.