Several friends tried out Ruby and Rails over the last months. Apart from the fact that most of them like it, but have to get used to the different syntax, there’s one question that popped up several times, and that I’ve already discussed with several long-time Rails users: What IDE are you using?

The answer I give them is always: I use TextMate. I know, I know, it’s not an IDE you’re saying. I’m well aware of that and I didn’t imply it would be. That statement just implies that I don’t feel the need to use one.

I’m aware that NetBeans seems to be the king of the hill right now, when it comes to Ruby and Rails support for a Java-style IDE. The latter is what bothers me about it though. I don’t need all the fancy assistants, the dialogs to generate code, and I can live without the code completion. I know it’s something that’s missing when you’re starting with Rails and come from a code-completed background, but the conventional approach makes it easier to get used to the way you deal with the framework. That’s my experience at least.

The weird thing about that? When I work with Java that’s the stuff I use all that stuff. A powerful IDE takes the pain out of Java. And that’s the reason why I don’t fancy one for Rails development. There is no pain. If there is one, it’s very different from the pain of Java development, and it’s not the IDE that could help me then. I work fluently with TextMate and the command line, so I have no urge to from typing to clicking to get things done.

I love seeing how the community is pushing the Java IDEs to be usable for Rails development, but right now it’s just not for me.