I can fully comprehend the power of the command line. I know that once you memorize them, key combinations are much more powerful than clicks of the mouse pulling down menus. I started computing long before GUI was common place so using the prompt feels just right. I know how to open a source file in Vim and highlight text and auto indent. I can create controllers in Ruby on Rails, I can create tables in MySQL typing away all the column properties, and I can hunt down folder inside folder with up to five terminals window opens in Linux.
The big question is, why would I want to continue this? It borders masochism. I tried the excellent Eclipse plug-in Rad Rails, and I don’t think I ever want to go back to the command line again. Let me explain. If building software is a little bit like controlling air traffic (and the analogy has its merits), then RadRails is my air traffic control tower.
- First, I can see the complete RoR file tree on the side of the screen. That alone allows me to easily open and view which ever file I need to. From the console it’s messy. Those Windows consoles look awful. And although I love Linux consoles, being transparent and all, I get tired of traversing from one directory to the next. It’s so much easier to just click!
- Second, RadRails is an excellent editor for Ruby, RoR and HTML. It’s probably my best editor, since I remember all the commands from my Java college days (and I confess that for Java development I rather use Netbeans.)
- Third, I can control multiple servers from the RadRails console. That is very cool, as I usually loose track of the console where I have the server open. It’s worse in Linux, where I keep the MySQL server in one console (for no particular reason… just habit) and a second one for the Ruby server.
- Fourth, I can generate controller, models, etc. from Rad Rails. I can watch the code list in my own console inside Rad Rails, so I have everything in one screen. But there is more. The new Rad Rails version 0.7.2 now has easy browser access and console access, so it’s only one click away from the menu bar. There is no compelling reason to leave the Eclipse environment (maybe except using MySQL Administrator tool, but that is the only reason I can think of.)
My congratulations to the RadRails team for such an excellent tool. There is no obligation to use IDE tools when developing Ruby On Rails applications. But with all the easy access to top notch (and open sourced!) tools available, why wouldn’t you?