At some point, a programmer has to think about their integrated development environment (IDE). In this article, we will share text editors and Ruby IDE’s that work best for Ruby on Rails developers.
Ruby IDEs vs Text Editors
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 that allow users to customize what features they have in their text editors.
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Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
IDE’s typically include text editing. Many 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 capacity to customize. Developers can even add features that previously were not available to text editors.
Which is Right for You?
Choosing a text editor or IDE is generally a matter of personal preference. 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.
7 Best Ruby IDEs and Text Editors for 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
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
Emacs Text Editor
GNU Emacs identifies as “An extensible, customizable, free text editor—and more.” Reviews view Emacs 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, user interface, and plug-ins, which can make it a full-featured IDE.
- It’s Goto Anything and Goto definition features that simplify user searches
- The ability to split edit, instantly switch projects without having to save, and select and change 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.” This may be biting off a bit more than some beginner developers 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. It has several packages that you can install in order to customize it and turn 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
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
Conclusion: What Ruby IDE is Right for You?
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?”
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