Best Ruby on Rails IDE and Text Editors

10 Best Ruby on Rails IDE and Text Editors for Web Development

Ruby on rails is a well-established technology for developing web applications and even after many years, is still thriving in the market today. Developers broadly working on Ruby on Rails projects are very well aware of the overwhelming struggle of finding a good IDE or a text editor for their work. It’s highly cumbersome to choose one. That’s the sole reason why we tried to come up with a list of IDE’s and text editors for helping you out. But before starting, let’s discuss a few questions that might arise in your mind.

What is Ruby on Rails?

According to Wikipedia, Ruby on Rails, or Rails, is a server-side web application framework written in Ruby under the MIT License. It is a model–view–controller (MVC) framework, providing default structures for a database, a web service, and web pages.

It encourages and facilitates the utilization of web standards like JSON or XML for data transfer and HTML, CSS and JavaScript for user interfacing. In addition to MVC, Rails emphasizes the use of other well-known software engineering patterns and paradigms, including convention over configuration (CoC), don’t repeat yourself (DRY), and the active record pattern.

Many frameworks available today like Django in Python, Sails.js in Node.js, Catalyst in Perl and many others have borrowed their ideas from Rails.

What is an IDE?

IDE or Integrated Development Environment is a software application that offers innumerable full-scale facilities to programmers and developers for software development.

They are designed to optimize productivity by providing numerous features for debugging, modifying, verifying and deploying code. Although some IDE’s are dedicated to specific programming languages, many others provide multiple language support.

What is a text editor?

It is a type of computer program tailored for editing plain text. Text editors come along with operating systems and software development packages. They can be used to change files such as configuration files, documentation files and programming language source code. Many text editors are plain and simple whereas some offer broad and complex functions and can be customized for specific usage.

IDE v/s Text Editor. Which one to choose?

IDEs contain text editors but many text editors, for instance Notepad included within Windows, do not include IDE features. Many text editors such as Vim or Emacs already come with IDE features and can be further customized to add file trees, syntax highlighting, line numbers and syntax checking, a few of the features commonly available in fully-featured IDE’s today.

We’ve curated a list of 10 Best Ruby on Rails IDE and Text Editors for Web Development to make it a little easier for you to choose between them. So opt for an IDE or an editor based on your requirements and the features it provides for your Ruby on rails project development.

RubyMine IDE

RubyMine is a full-featured Integrated Development Environment that provides essential, out-of-the-box tools for Ruby and Ruby on Rails development. It offers smart coding assistance and analysis, easy code navigation, safe automated refactoring, an interactive debugger, Git workflow support, and many more tools all integrated into a highly customizable, productive, user-friendly environment.

If you’re into Ruby applications development, ROR to be precise, and don’t fret to spend a little extra bucks for the best premium tools, then no need to look any further. RubyMine is considered the top-tier IDE for Ruby on Rails development.

PROS:

  • Colour codes local variables separately from method calls.
  • Jumps to source code very accurately (CMD+Click on mac).
  • Highlights common code style issues.
  • Allows you to run ruby files from within RubyMine, minimizing windows / tabbing around different apps.

CONS:

  • Proprietary
  • Constantly Indexing on large projects (even after invalidating caches)
  • Pricey

PRICE: Click to view price plans

RELEASE DATE: 2008

DIFFICULTY: Easy

Aptana Studio

Aptana Studio is a flexible, open-source web application IDE especially designed to assist developers build web applications in a breeze with ease. It is developed based on a flexible IDE popularly known as Eclipse.

The software comes with a powerful set of features such as deployment wizard, code assist, built-in terminal, etc. The platform supports building, previewing as well as debugging of websites written in various languages including JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Developers in need of developing websites written in PHP, as well as Ruby on Rails, can also use Aptana Studio IDE by adding respective plug-ins.

PROS:

  • Allows extension of core capabilities of IDE by scripting own commands.
  • Good scripting support as it is based on Eclipse framework

CONS:

  • Paid software wherein you must buy the complete adobe suite, not sold separately.
  • The preference menus inherited from Eclipse can be quite cumbersome to navigate.

PRICE: Free

RELEASE DATE: 30 July 2018 (Version 3.7.2)      

DIFFICULTY: Easy

Vi/Vim

Initially released in 1991, Vim has got tremendously improved while undergoing major updates. The latest release Vim 8.2 was released on 19 December 2019 and is extremely command-centric. Vim or Vi IMproved is an open-source text editor program distributed along with most Unix systems.

Vim has an ample amount of plugins, which can be used for extending or adding a brand new functionality to it.

It has a relatively steep learning curve, nevertheless, once you get into it, you’ll fall in love with it.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and fast
  • Powerful plugin model 
  • Keyboard-based, mouse-free interface
  • Free and open source

CONS:

  • High effort required for customization
  • Poor support for external tooling 
  • Difficult learning curve
  •  By default it doesn’t have a lot of fancy features you would find in larger IDE programs like code completion and linking.

PRICE: Free

RELEASE DATE: 2 November 1991

DIFFICULTY: Relatively steep learning curve

Sublime

Sublime Text is one of the most powerful, cross-platform, lightweight source code editors available for programmers today. Even though it is a text editor, you can effortlessly expand its functionality and convert it into a full-featured IDE by using adequate plugins.

Sublime is a plain and simple text editor, with no debugging, no jump to source, nonetheless equipped with almost everything else to make it one of the most productive and efficient ruby text editors.

PROS:

  • Accurate code completion
  • Provides various keyboard shortcuts and multi selection options, thus saving time.
  • Cross platform therefore running scripts and opening large files on the Server is quite easy.

CONS:

  • Porting your license to a new machine isn’t easy.
  • Can be a bit of a pain to navigate the myriad settings.
  • Relatively less plug-ins

PRICE: Free

RELEASE DATE: 18 January 2018

DIFFICULTY: Easy

Atom

Atom is a highly productive free and open-source “hackable” text editor which implies that it can be customized. Like most other configurable text editors, Atom enables users to install third-party packages and themes to customize features of the editor and simplifies code development. It also includes a host of other features like Teletype, auto-completion, and search, and replace code characters. It is a really good, highly customizable rails editor.

PROS:

  • Integrated CLI and top notch Git integration
  • Atom’s multi-cursor plug-in functionality provides a powerful method for manipulating text in bulk.
  • Cross-platform support for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

CONS:

  • In terms of processing, if multiple packages are installed it tends to slow down the PC.
  • Lack of Sync
  • Loading and manipulating big files is an issue

PRICE: Free

RELEASE DATE: 26 February 2014

DIFFICULTY: Easy

Emacs

GNU Emacs can almost replace the ruby mine debugger, but it is not as intuitive compared to a GUI. It is self-documented, which means all plugins you install will have built-in searchable documentation, and all shortcut customization will auto-update the documentation. This proves a better learning curve than Vim.

Several Ruby developers are avid customers of Emacs, and that’s the reason, there exists a devoted Ruby plugin called enhanced Ruby mode, explicitly for supporting Ruby programming.  

Emacs is a great selection considering it is a free ruby IDE.

PROS:

  • With the availability of a large library, it’s easy to extend functionality using Emacs Lisp.
  • Tramp mode in Emacs allows transparent editing of files on remote systems, including using sudo for access to secured files.

CONS:

  • Emacs is old, so it’s a little crufty and not too easy to pick up and start using. 
  • Lisp interpreter makes it a little harder to write Emacs extension codes or understanding those codes.

PRICE: Free

RELEASE DATE: 20 March 1985

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

Visual Studio Code

Developing a software or web application requires for an editing tool that not only supports you in establishing proper workflow and optimal organization but also provides a friendly and easy-to-use workspace. This is where we need Microsoft Visual Studio Code (VS Code) as it offers code tools for autocomplete, rubocop for formatting, cucumber, and Rspec for debugging and unit testing along with various other tools like debride, ruby-lint, and reek. You can get access to all these ruby gems just by installing the extension vscode-ruby.

PROS:                                                                                                                 

  • Loads of Extensions available.
  • Lightweight and efficiently manages big workspaces even with machines with lower configurations.
  • Direct support of major repositories makes code management much easier.

CONS:

  • Few plugins cause the VS Code to hang/crash.
  • Sometimes Autosuggestion and Syntax highlighting makes VS Code sluggish.
  • Performance can be affected with multiple plugins running altogether (especially linting or hinting)

PRICE: Free

RELEASE DATE: 29 April 2015

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

Komodo IDE

Yet another all-inclusive cross-platform IDE that supports various languages such as Ruby, Perl, Python, Golang, etc. Ruby on Rails developers have an upper hand in developing projects using Komodo’s amazing features like track changes, multi-windows split view, multi-selection auto abbreviation snippets, conditional snippets, smart language detection, and so on.

Komodo IDE is now available free of cost as part of ActiveState Platform, you just have to create an account and then you can download and use the IDE. Although it is to be noted that the free version does not provide an extensive toolset for fully-fledged ruby on rails development.

PROS:

  • Amazing Collaboration tools
  • Integrated debugging and Built-in version control

CONS:

  • The free version doesn’t provide enough features and tools for development.

PRICE: Click here to view plans

RELEASE DATE: May 2000

DIFFICULTY: Easy

AWS Cloud9

Founded in 2010, Cloud9 was a private company based in Amsterdam. Later on, it was acquired by Amazon in July 2016. AWS Cloud9 is a cloud-based integrated development environment (IDE) that lets you write, run, and debug your code with just a browser. Since it is cloud-based, all it requires is an active internet connection for you to start working from anywhere, anytime.

With Cloud9, you can quickly share your development environment with your teammates, enabling you to pair program and track each other’s inputs in real-time.

PROS:

  • Access it anywhere, on any device, no installation required.
  • Being on the cloud, code can survive any disaster like laptop crashes or device damage.
  • No IDE setup required just signup and ready to go.

CONS:

  • It does provide IntelliSense, but auto-correction would be an added advantage.
  • It does not contain shortcut keys and it would be useful to execute the projects in a simpler and faster way.
  • Limited plugins and extensions.

PRICE: There is no additional charge for AWS Cloud9. If you use an Amazon EC2 instance for your AWS Cloud9 development environment, you pay only for the compute and storage resources (e.g., an EC2 instance, an EBS volume) that are used to run and store your code.

RELEASE DATE: 2010

DIFFICULTY: Easy

Netbeans IDE

Here stands the last IDE on this list. Netbeans is a popular integrated development environment(IDE) for Java. This IDE arises from Oracle and is available free of cost. It is cross-platform and runs on Windows, Linux, macOS and Solaris. Each element of the integrated development environment is given by modules and each module gives a characterized work. It is one of the mainstream IDE for ruby development.

PROS:

  • Refactoring – Easily rename classes and variables or make other structural changes using built-in refactoring tools.
  • Service management – NetBeans integrates seamlessly with web application servers like Tomcat and GlassFish.
  • Source control – Works well with Git and other version control tools.

CONS:

  • Memory usage – Large projects can consume a lot of memory when opened in the IDE.
  • When compiling code, compilation and execution performance is slower than competing IDEs.

PRICE: Free

RELEASE DATE: June 2000

DIFFICULTY: Easy

To wrap it up, if you look at the majority of the Ruby on Rails projects, there is no need to have a full-featured and resource-heavy IDE for development.

Lightweight text editors with the right configurations can be used to complete the development process seamlessly. Anyways, using a text editor or an IDE is a personal choice, and opting for the right one can be overwhelming, that’s why we curated this list.

Since most of these IDE/text editors are available free of cost, you can always try and see which suits your needs best. And before opting for THE ONE, just remember to make sure that the Ruby-related plug-ins in each of these IDE/editors provide you with the best functionality and make your development process ease like a breeze.

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