3rdRail Fucking Rocks

CodeGear has announced their new Rails IDE — 3rdRail — and it is awesome. And I am not just saying that because I am quoted in the press release as the regular-guy foil to Matz and DHH, as cool as that is.

If you have read this blog, you’ve seen me go from speculating about how great it would be if the guys who brought us Delphi turned their attention to Rails, to actually seeing that happen. Mike Swindell, CodeGear’s VP, first leaked details about the product right here, and I am honored to have gone from speculation, to participation in the beta program, to realization of a released product in the space of the last 9 months. Totally fucking awesome.

So, it is here. Go watch the movie and be amazed. Don’t mind the Windows Vista demo platform. Give it the 20 minutes it takes to view it, and you will see that this is not, as DHH says, just another text manipulation platform. This is a living (J)Ruby runtime that provides all sorts of code assistance that will boost your productivity in ways — well, in ways that you may have become used to using Eclipse or Visual Studio in another, highly forgettable life of corporate IT servitude amongst the oppressive neutral shadings of endless cube farms. But I digress…

You might miss your favorite Rails reference for looking up all those pesky methods now that you have auto completion, but I doubt it. Feel free to look away and keep looking things up in http://api.rubyonrails.com if you must. You might miss your menagerie of tools for inspecting CSS and the DOM, for tracking XMLHttpRequests, and for doing the countless other things that Eclipse and its thriving world of plugins can do for you. It can be hard to get used to having everything, you know, right there. But, I think you can hang.

This is only the beginning. It is a great beginning, and worth the $299 introductory price in my book, but it is only the beginning. These guys brought us Delphi, including the VCL — the best component framework ever. They brought us JBuilder, and a lot more. They know their stuff, and when the chips were down and their corporate overlords said, “Fine, go do whatever you want. Choose your own fate,” they said — and I am paraphrasing — “Fuck yeah! We are building the most bitching Rails development environment ever!” And so, they have.

[Update: Discussion of the product is happening at GrabTheRail.com, and more videos (recorded on the Mac) are now up.]

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19 thoughts on “3rdRail Fucking Rocks

  1. 3rdRails maybe a nice tool, but it is not easy for developers to go from “free” to $299 easily. This may although be easier if the tool is bought by larger organisations… but I doubt that there are many of them doing RoR so that the tools will have a large market.

  2. My first impression is: looks very much like Aptana. I’m sure I’m not alone.

    I find it amusing that the rails gods seem to frown on Aptana (“TextMate is so much better …” etc) somehow seem convinced that 3rdrail is the next best thing since sliced bread.

    Yet another IDE clone. More like “3rdrate” than 3rdrail.

    — D.

  3. I watched the screencast and checked out the features, and I don’t really see anything worth $299 bucks. Since you have a lot of experience with it, could you give more details about why you think it’s so awesome? Perhaps compare and contrast completing a similar task using TextMate or Aptana to highlight where the $299 price tag is justified?

  4. With an open mind I wanted to check this out.
    I use e (textmate clone for windows)
    Have used RadRails
    Exploring NetBeans
    So it made sense.

    My usual test is to load an existing project.
    You can imagine my ‘dismay’ when this sucker was not smart enough ($200++?) to detect that the Rails project structure already existed and whacked the lot !

    Perhaps this is a nice candidate for a unit test guys ?

    Hope it has svn integration ūüėČ

    sinclair

  5. Yeah… all I can say is remember “Kylix”.

    Take a look at the history of that monumental POS before giving $300 bucks to CodeGear (or Inprise, or Borland – whatever they call themselves this year).

    They’re just cashing in on a fad. When the cash dries up, they’ll just leave this to rot as they did with Kylix.

  6. Wow, what a cpu hog and memory hog.
    I31MB of memory, that’s just on start up, took over 30 seconds to start up after selecting a workspace, maxing out my cpu. What a piece of bloatware

  7. Wow – there are a lot of negative comments above. I’ve been using it for a few days now to check it out at here is what I see:

    + Eclipse based so it’s very familiar
    + Completion is much better than in NetBeans plus they have TextMate like snippets too, so it’s easy to switch over.
    + Navigation of the code base is much better than with TextMate because it “understands the code” (DLTK based)
    + The project commander (command line) is very useful good!

    – Definitely has some bugs
    – Can be a bit slow (I a running on a MacPro with 3GB)

    $299, that’s a lot unless your employer is paying but right *now* it is worth it. Aptana, Netbeans, RadRails are not there yet and will probably take another 6 months to a year to reach this level. However there is nothing in there that these alternatives can’t do or copy over the next few months. View the $299 as the price for a nicer environment now, and switch to free later (unless they keep a feature lead).

  8. I haven’t had much of a chance to evaluate yet but was concerned about the $299 price tag (which I now find being based in UK is also subject to 17.5% for the licence and support as well – so now as an individual I have been further put off the purchase). I am likely to get involved in some commercial rails work in near future but I will have to work hard to convince my colleagues that the editor is worth the price as compared to Aptana which of course is free – I don’t think that they will accept $299 + Vat per seat no matter how fancy the IDE is – especially as they fully expect Aptana to mature and grow in functionality – perhaps using these features as a yardstick.
    I have used Borland products for many years C/C++ Delphi and am very impressed with what they provide. Of course these are not just the IDE but the libraries, run time licences etc. etc.
    I will evaluate for 30 days and compare to Aptana which of course is free – I think I will have a hard job convincing my colleagues and the concept of using this and then switching to a free version later is ok if it is one seat and no Vat.
    Of course if it does make you much more productive………. Great – but in 30 days will I actually be able to evaluate that fully.

  9. Not a ‘bad’ IDE< just not so good and not worth $299

    — Functionally not far off from the FREE netbeans beta.
    — It has lots of little bugs. Its certainly not polished enough for a commercial product
    — Its eclipse based and is consequently subjected to the chaos and disarray of eclipses preferences and display. BUT eclipse *IS* free, this product is not.

    I have high hopes for the Intellij folks finishing their rails IDE. Somehow this feels like Borland/CodeGear trying to rush out their half done attempt at a knock-off before the real movie hits the theatres. For now I’m sticking with vi/textmate or Netbeans.

  10. So let me get this straight, you guys do software development for a living, but you gripe about PAYING $299 for what is probably the best tool in class. $299 bucks is 3 hrs of consulting for the average freelance. If it saves me 3hrs in the long run by not having to do my own toolset aggregation (Google + download plugin + more Googling to find out why this version of x tool barfs with tool y…..)

    These are the same arguments folks make about MyEclipse and Redhat Enterprise Linux. Tried to build a Java+Spring+JSF project from scratch with base Eclipse lately? Try to install Oracle 10g on Fedora Linux for any customer’s lately? I run a software company on a lot of open source, and I am a contributer to both Linux and Perl open source projects for years, however paying for a tool to let another company deal with upgrades and dependancies allows me to focus on getting the job done, period.

    My desktop includes Visual Studio, MyEclipse, 3rdrail, Toad, PL/SQL Developer, Komodo, VMware Workstation. Maybe 2k worth of developer tools. Every one of these has a “free” alternative that isn’t free as soon as you spend 1hour with an install, build, upgrade or plugin problem, and then you are still stuck with an inferior tool.

    If Ruby is your development language of choice, and you are a commercial developer, your time must be pretty cheap to not want to use a commercial tool.

  11. 3rdRail and Aptana is the same Eclipse-based shit. Netbeans (and new RubyMine) are much more advanced and have much more inteligent Ruby code analyzer, better code completion, inteligent highlighting of variables and methods in the context etc. They are just much more powerfull for developing in Ruby and/or Rails. IMHO, today the most powerfull IDE for Ruby/Rails is RubyMine.

  12. I know this is way, way, way after the original article was written. But this product is now on v2.0, and is being sold for $99 USD for a 1-Year Term License with Maintenance.

    Just figured it might be worth mentioning as I just stumbled upon this article while googling for reviews on the product.

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