about 6 years ago
If you have a Windows machine and would like to dabble a bit with rails development the state of affairs is not that grim
As it stands in early 2008 there are a large number of IDEs and tools you can use, getting Rails up and running is not hugely complicated.
Note, there is a one-click installer "coming up":http://rbazinet.wordpress.com/2007/12/17/whats-coming-in-instant-rails-20-and-beyond-the-road-map/ for Rails on windows. My advice is to avoid it, not because it does not or will not work, but because installing stuff manually gives you better control, and teaches you more along the way.
Get up and running
Install "Ruby":http://rubyinstaller.rubyforge.org/wiki/wiki.pl : Go for version 1.8.X, 1.9 was recently released but it is still a "while":http://www.postal-code.com/binarycode/2007/12/30/ruby-19-not-for-rails/ before people recommend using it for rails development.
Update your Gems - Ruby contains a packaging system which could be likened to a network connected version of windows installer. It manages installation and upgrades of "gems" which are re-usable components. Rails itself is just a collection of gems. Early in the release cycle of Rails 2.0 there was an issue with the Gem system that caused lots of woes installing Rails. To avoid any issues in future just run the following command (from the command line). It will update the gem gem
gem update --system
- Install Rails - note: gems may depend on other gems, using the include dependencies command allows rails to update all of the dependent gems.
gem install rails --include-dependencies
That's it Rails is installed, you can now create your first hello world app.
- If you would like a more "unix-like" development environment - try "cygwin":http://www.cygwin.com/ it can co-exists side by side with a windows native ruby installation. I use cygwin to run rails plugins that do not run in windows native eg. "Backgroundrb":http://backgroundrb.rubyforge.org/
Get yourself educated
"Railscasts":http://railscasts.com/ : This is a fantastic podcast. It cover a very large number of Rails topics. Ryan knows his stuff and his podcasts have the perfect pace.
"The Rails Forum":http://www.railsforum.com/ : If you get stuck, someone here will be happy to answer your questions.
"The Rails Wiki":http://wiki.rubyonrails.org/rails : Another excellent resource about everything and anything involving rails.
"Agile Web Development with Rails":http://www.pragprog.com/titles/rails2 : Watch out for th Rails 2 version of this book, it has been a critical resource during my rails development.
"Rails CHM documentation":http://delynnberry.com/projects/rails-chm-documentation : A very useful resource.
Get yourself tooled up
"Console":http://sourceforge.net/projects/console : In Rails you will spend a fair amount of time on the console, this is a fantastic cmd replacement, it supports a tabbed interface, and you don't have to jump through hoops to resize the window.
"YSlow":http://developer.yahoo.com/yslow/ : A very useful plugin for firefox (which requires firebug). It will help you optimize your web apps.
Choose an IDE
"Aptana":http://www.aptana.com/ (free): My current IDE of choice, its based of "Eclipse":http://www.eclipse.org/ . It has a ton of features, and is fairly fast to load up. My current biggest gripe is that cut-and-paste seems a little slow, it is highly customizable and support everything from debugging to refactoring. I love the CSS support in Aptana.
"NetBeans":http://www.netbeans.org/ (Free) : A very capable IDE which, like Aptana, is written in Java. I found its load time a bit slow, and I seem to like the look and feel of Aptana a bit better. It support pretty much all the feature that Aptana does, and has a superior intellisense implementation.
"JEdit":http://www.jedit.org/ (Free) : (With the ruby "plugin":http://plugins.jedit.org/plugins/?RubyPlugin) Used it for a while and found it rough around the edges. Support intellisense, Rails and most of the features the Java based IDEs.
"Vim":http://www.vim.org/download.php#pc (Free) - With the Rails plugin":http://wiki.rubyonrails.org/rails/pages/HowtoUseVimWithRails . It has a steep learning curve but is, by far, one of the most powerful rails IDEs (coupled with rails.vim)
"FreeRIDE":http://freeride.rubyforge.org/wiki/wiki.pl (Free) - It's written in Ruby and has little to no special Rails support, a very basic fast multi-platform IDE.
"Ruby.Net Visual Studio Integration Package":http://rubydotnet.googlegroups.com/web/VisualStudioIntegration.htm#Installing (Free) - I have not used this yet, it does look ok. Has a lengthy setup process and no special Rails support.
"SciTE":http://scintilla.org/SciTE.html (Free) - Ships with the Windows Ruby installer. More information about customizing it "here":http://caladbolg.net/scite.php . I use it to edit single ruby files, but it does not have the same amount of features the other Java based IDEs have. It is lightning fast though.
"InType":http://intype.info/home/index.php (free while in alpha): This IDE is still in alpha (it does not even have a file browser at the moment), it looks very promising and very similar to "TextMate":http://macromates.com/ which is the IDE the Ruby on Rails team use.
"E-TextEditor":http://www.e-texteditor.com/ ($34.95): This is a TextMate clone for windows, it works best if you have Cygwin installed.
"Arachno Ruby IDE":http://www.ruby-ide.com/ruby/ruby_ide_and_ruby_editor.php ($49) - I have not used this, it does not support rails natively.
"Ruby in Steel":http://www.sapphiresteel.com/ ($49 - $199) - A plugin for Visual Studio (that now also ships stand alone). It supports a very large amount of features, including intellisense and debugging. I have it installed at the moment, but tend to use Aptana.
Hope this helps someone out there, let me know if I missed anything or should expand