Monday, October 01, 2007

Is it better than TextMate? (Ruby IDE redux)

A year and a few months ago I wrote what I considered to be the state of Ruby IDE choices. These days I'm still using TextMate to deliver Ruby applications. I think TextMate is a fine text editor, but almost every project team has a few developers who want IDE support at the level that IntelliJ provides to Java. After hearing those same complaints for over a year I'm fairly sure that, at this point, no one wants a more robust IDE than I do.

Unfortunately, there isn't a better option. "NetBeans has great debugging support." "The IntelliJ plug-in provides better searching options." Yes, I've heard many of the great features that the different IDE options provide. The problem is, they missed a few fundamental features: stability and speed.

Around fourty percent of all new projects at ThoughtWorks are Ruby projects. Each project starts with the question: What IDE are we going to use. Not every team is lucky enough to be given a choice concerning hardware selection, so TextMate isn't even an option for some of our projects. As of today, I'm comfortable saying that ThoughtWorks has tried every major Ruby IDE available. Unfortunately, I still haven't heard what I want to hear: [IDE] is better than TextMate.

I understand that the current IDE choices provide some features that TextMate does not, but they do it while other features are lacking, or it's too slow, or it crashes constantly. Not a single colleague I've spoken to has told me that another editor would be a better choice for a ThoughtWorks team. I know that some of my colleagues prefer IntelliJ, but most of those guys (admittedly) prefer it because it's familiar. Even those guys aren't ready to recommend that teams choose IntelliJ over TextMate when delivery is on the line. I'm optimistic about IntelliJ. I enjoyed using IntelliJ when it was the best option available to me. Of course, I think competition will make all the IDEs better, so I'm rooting for all the competitors also.

Specifically, here's what I'm looking for: Crashes no more than once a week. Responsive at all time. Provides all the features of the TextMate Ruby and Rails Bundles. Provides an additional few features that making preferring it over TextMate any easy decision.
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