Ruby IDE is set to shine

ActiveState is looking to accommodate the burgeoning interest in the open-source Ruby programming language by supporting it in the company’s integrated development environment (IDE).

Launched late last year, ActiveState’s Komodo 3.5 IDE adds Ruby to a list of other programming languages supported, such as Python, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), and Perl. Version 3.5 also offers support of the Mac OS X platform.

Komodo focuses on “dynamic” languages, said David Ascher, chief technologist at ActiveState. “Dynamic languages are pretty well-suited for projects where you have fast-changing requirements,” Ascher said.

Ruby is particularly successful because of the Ruby on Rails Web application framework, he added. The developer of Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson, a partner and programmer at hosted application provider 37signals, is pleased to see commercial efforts sprouting around Ruby.

“I think it’s great to see that there’s an ecosystem growing up around Ruby and especially with Rails right now, I think that commercial involvement in open source is definitely beneficial,” Hansson said.

The attraction to Ruby and Ruby on Rails is that Ruby is geared toward humans rather than compilers, Hansson said.

“It’s making the human programmer’s job easier,” Hansson said. “I think the focus of Ruby has been to make programmers happy, and I think that is very different from the goals that were in the creation of Java, which was just a nicer C. It’s a different level of ambition.”

Komodo 3.5 features Ruby on Rails debugging as well as code intelligence capabilities such as AutoComplete and CallTips to provide as-you-type syntax checking. Also included are code colorizing, folding, automatic end statements, and smart indenting.

A Ruby on Rails developer in Vancouver said he favoured Komodo’s approach. “I like that they’re focusing more on the front end, which is basically where most of the work resides in Rails,” said Alex Bunardzic, technical architect at development house Jooto.

Komodo 3.5 for Mac OS X is priced at US$295 for the Professional edition and US$29.95 for an abbreviated Personal Edition. The Professional Edition has added features such as integration with source code control systems and a GUI builder. A Linux and Windows version is also available.

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