On the week of EclipseCon, Sun Microsystems Inc is making waves on the sidelines by announcing that the rival NetBeans IDE will add support of the increasingly popular Ruby web scripting language.
Sun has announced an early access release of the NetBeans Ruby Pack that provides kinds of features or support that you would expect with Java. That includes things like code completion that fills in the rest of the line after you type a few familiar keystrokes, and integrated documentation, where the IDE lists all relevant method signatures.
Of course, these are features that Java, and for that matter, Microsoft VB and C# developers have long taken for granted. But the big difference is that these are all strongly typed, managed languages where the possibilities are not endless.
It recalls, in a way, what you had with Visual Basic prior to the .NET framework, where it became a managed language. But unlike VB, which Microsoft owned, Ruby is a public domain language outside any vendor’s control. So to fit a square peg into a round hole, Sun did the next best thing: provide partial lists that hint at what you’re looking for.
Sun’s Ruby work is hardly done. It still is working on ways to support refactoring of Ruby (where you reorganize and consolidate your code to eliminate redundancies), and will add that capability in a future release.
Sun is currently working on similar capabilities for PHP, but is not yet saying when there will be a formal NetBeans plug-in. But since the engine for fitting the Ruby square peg into the round NetBeans hole was written as language-independent, it is likely that Sun will probably have something ready later this year.