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RoR IDEs for Windows

Posted by Chirag Patel on July 10, 2007

Updated on 12/11/07

Here’s a breakdown of Ruby on Rails IDEs for Windows. Please feel free to add to this by adding a comment to this blog entry. I currently switch between RoRED (writing and navigating code) and Netbeans (GUI debugging)

I broke it down in 2 types. Free vs. Commercial



RoRED is a low-frills alternative to Netbeans and Aptana. I’m using it exclusively at the moment because Netbeans is too clunky and I love the MVC tabs. It doesn’t have as many features, but is a nice quick and easy IDE. My favorite things about RoRED (in priority order):

  1. Very lightweight (only 7MB in RAM on my Vista tablet)
  2. Special tabs for Model-Views-Controller grouping! This is very nice because you can psychologically group code by functionality as opposed to folder. I use RoRED instead of Netbeans on many occasions just for this feature alone!!!
  3. How it generally uses tabs/panes insead of hierarchal trees (eg. methods within controllers, MVC tabs).
  4. Ability to load existing RoR projects without a “New Project” process or wizard. You can analyze someone else’s project or tutorial quickly.
  5. Global search (search across files) is pretty cool. Searching is quick and the search results windows goes transparent when you click on one of the search result rows.
  6. Ability to quickly switch between the controller and view of a particular method (which is probably available in most IDEs)

The things I don’t like are

  1. Can only load one RoR application at a time (takes too long to re-open all open files when switching projects)
  2. Autocomplete is very slow (and not that impressive). Very annoying when you type an open parentheses and it waits for autocomplete


Since I have 4GB RAM on my Lenovo tablet, I can take advantage of all its rich features. When I launched Netbeans 6.0 M10 with three RoR projects loaded, the Windows process (java.exe) ended up being a whopping 150MB (as opposed to 7MB with RoRED)! Not for the faint hearted.

I’ve seen 2 blog entries claiming that it’s now better than Aptana. I put the dates because obviously opinions change fast.

  1. July 02, 2007 on Technology for Humans
  2. June 11th, 2007 on Eribium

What I like about Netbeans

  1. GUI debugger!
    • Shut down your existing web server!
    • Run -> Attach Debugger
    • Run -> Debug Main Project
    • Veify that debugger is running (Window -> Output -> Output)
    • Warning: sometimes the breakpoint won’t hit
  2. Integration with Subversion, so I can do a quick diff in the editor
  3. Ability to easily create project from an existing Ruby On Rails application
  4. Local history and the ability to label and delete each entry in the local history (Versioning -> Local History)

What I don’t like about Netbeans

  1. Launches very slowly! And is a memory hog!
  2. Seems to index every Rails project every time you launch Netbeans, which is very slow
  3. Autocomplete can be slow (2 to 5 seconds)
  4. Creates a directory called “nbproject” in your Rails root directory. I have Subversion ignore it.


Used to be RadRails, but recently bought by Aptana. It was a little clunky and flaky when I used it as Radrails a few months ago. See Aptana vs Netbeans articles above.


Supposed to include some re-factoring, but haven’t tried it. Seems pretty primitive.

Ride-ME (Rails IE – Minus Eclipse)

A few months ago, it was buggy and not very impressive


Arachno $50-$100

Released a version in July 2007. Haven’t tried it but screenshots look good. Hopefully it would be lighterweight than Netbeans

Ruby in Steel $200 + price of Visual Studio

Runs on top of Visual Studio, which very nice but obviously a resource hog

Komodo $150

Nothing stood out about it when I tried the trial version

IntelliJ IDEA $500

One of the best IDEs ever made, but I hear it’s so big and clunky nowadays, that it’s almost impossible to use. See ruby-rails-ide-comparison-idea-netbeans-radrails


One Response to “RoR IDEs for Windows”

  1. chukovskij said

    Hello! You didn’t mention, that for “Ruby in Steel” you should also buy whole Visual Studio, and MS Visual studio is more clunky and big, than IDEA. The ROR plugin for IDEA is free, but you should buy IDEA if you don’t have it =). On the other hand IDEA is FREE for open source projects 😉

    Best regards

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