Whether you are starting your journey in web development or have been learning a programming language for a while now, one thing that may be on your mind is your development environment. In this article, we will share text editors and IDE’s that work best for Ruby and Rails developers.
Text Editors vs. IDEs
Previously, a text editor created and edited plain text files, which were compiled and run by a command-line interface (CLI) in a terminal. While some text editors still work that way, there are several options for text editors where users can customize what features they have in their text editors.
IDE’s typically include text editing, but also include other features, such as automatic code completion, version control, and the ability to compile and debug code. That being said, several popular text editors for Ruby developers have the customization capacity to add features that previously were not available to text editors.
Choosing a text editor or IDE is generally a matter of personal preference and figuring out what works best for you—so make sure to try out free or trial options before making your final decision. If you don’t know where to start, ask a developer friend what they prefer to use. We’ll share seven favorites below.
Top 7 Text Editors and IDE’s for Ruby Developers
RubyMine is a full-featured IDE developed by Jet Brains, a company that creates developer tools for professional developers.
- Syntax and error highlighting, formatting suggestions, code completion, and seamless integration with version control systems
Aptana Studio IDE for building web applications. It is open-source and free to use, which makes it a great option for new Rubyists.
- Ability to automatically publish Ruby and Rails applications to hosting services such as Heroku and Engine Yard
GNU Emacs identifies as “An extensible, customizable, free text editor—and more.” Reviews view this free text editor as a lightweight and sophisticated system that’s an excellent option for Ruby and Rails development. The creator of Ruby, Yukihiro Matsumoto prefers to use Emacs rather than an IDE.
- Highly customizable appearance using Emacs Lisp or a GUI
- Functionality outside of text editing including tutorials for new users, project planners, a debugger interface, and more
- Edit modes that include syntax coloring
Sublime Text is a code editor that also boasts being lightweight, customizable, and high performing. It is one of the most popular text editors due to its performance, beautiful user interface, and the ability to add plug-ins, which can make it a full-featured IDE.
- It’s Goto Anything and Goto definition features which simplify user searches
- The ability to split edit, instantly switch projects without having to save, and the ability to select and change the text in multiple places at once
- Customization and performance are highlights of this text editor
VIM is a free to use open-source text editor considered to be feature-rich, old-time, and beloved. The site does warn, “Vim isn’t an editor designed to hold its users’ hands. It is a tool, the use of which must be learned,” which may be biting off a bit more than some of us code newbies can handle.
- Plugins that offer an option to transform this text editor into a powerful Ruby development environment
- Keyboard-based which can make moving from file to file quick
- Available as a Ruby IDE for Linux
Atom is also a free and open-source text editor developed by GitHub, now a subsidiary of Microsoft. Atom has several packages that you can install in order to customize your text editor or make it into an IDE if you choose.
- Teletype, where developers can work in the same document in real-time
- Integration with Git and GitHub for version control
- Autocompletion, multiple panes, find and replace, and more
Visual Studio Code, sometimes referred to as VS Code, is a source code editor developed by Microsoft, and is a close competitor with Atom.
- IntelliSense, which provides auto completions based on variable types, function definitions, and imported modules
- Ability to debug from the editor using breakpoints, call stacks, and an interactive console
- Deploy and host React, Angular, Vue, Node, Python, etc. sites with Microsoft Azure from within VS Code
In this article, we’ve discussed the difference between a text editor and an IDE. We also shared seven popular text editors and IDE’s for Ruby developers. If you want to learn more about what you can build with Ruby, check out our article, ”What Is Ruby Code Used For?”