This article was written in 2006. Please see the notes and comments for more up-to-date information about available IDES. All that are listed here are still viable, but there is new information below.
Getting settled in with a good editor for RoR is hard.. especially if you’re new to the game. I use Windows pretty exclusively, but most of the editors I’ll talk about are cross platform. If you use Linux you might find this interesting.. if you use Mac you’re a lucky bastard and you have Textmate.
I’m writing this mainly as a guide for people just getting started with RoR, so don’t freak out if you don’t see every single editor listed here, becuse I’m only going to list about three. These are just some that I recommend you try if you’re first starting. All of these are free.
Great editor.. nice highlighting. SciTE is extremely fast to load and run, but really lacks some of the speed features for actual editing a lot of other editors have. This is ok if you’re used to doing everything completely by hand, but not so great if you want plugins and more customization. There are a lot of things that are really hidden in this program so it’s good to play around with config files if you find it to be really good for what you do.
Very good editor based on eclipse. It’s a big fat Java app so it’s slow to start, but it’s very nice to run. It’s specifically designed to be a Rails IDE and it defiintely is. You can run multiple servers easily, use it to generate pretty much everything you can do via commandline, but it gives you a nice GUI for it too. Syntax highlighting is beautiful and specifically done per-filetype (which can be good or bad I guess). Easy viewing via project trees and you can even work with your database info from within the application. I recommend this one for most people starting out in Ruby on Rails if you’re just starting and not used to any fancy plugins or macros from your other editors. Also recommended if you’re familiar with eclipse stuff (you’ll want to run it as a plugin probably).
The programmer’s editor. I’ve been a jEdit fan for a long time, so I’m very biased towards it when it comes to picking out an editor for myself. If you’re going to use it for RoR stuff you’re going to want to have the ruby plugin and the project viewer plugin. These will give you easy workflow with your application. The ruby plugin helps highlighting and some simple syntax editing things that jEdit doesn’t do natively. I pretty much have jEdit setup like RadRails is looks-wise. Why would I choose jEdit over RadRails then? Because jEdit is pretty damn simple and does everything I want - not just RoR. RadRails is simple for RoR alone, but eclipse isn’t really all that simple of an editor to use for all your daily tasks. I’m not going to spend any time debating jEdit vs. Eclipse because this is just a quick-start guide for people looking for an editor.
jEdit has support for just about any language you can think and it’s a great all-around editor. I love plugins like SuperAbbrevs and XML to help make my coding easier. With these plugins you can get jEdit to behave very close to how TextMate does.
Alls well that ends well
I recommend you try at least jEdit and RadRails. They’ll both get you started and do all that you need and more. Both will grow with you and grow on you.
I’ve written a tutorial on how to get TextMate like functionality in jEdit. You’ll want to go through this is if you use jEdit for RoR.
Edit 2- 2008/04/08
This pages gets a lot of traffic. I hope the comments help. Please keep in mind this article was written quite awhile back - back in 2006 - and options like eclipse and netbeans weren’t as well put-together as they are today. My recommendations now are the following:
I haven’t use radrails in awhile and I’m not familiar with what eclipse has to offer. Personally I’m still using jEdit and I’ve launched a few rails projects with it.. triviathis.com is my most recent. Again please remember I’m only putting down info about things I can run in a Windows environment.