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CodeGear Gunning For Enterprise Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails for the enterprise? Really?!

Borland's spin-off tools division, CodeGear, is developing an IDE for Ruby and the Ruby on Rails (RoR) framework in an effort to make it more attractive and usable in enterprise development environments.

CodeGear sees RoR as challenging existing enterprise frameworks and becoming a disruptive force in the multi-billion dollar space.

"We really believe that Ruby on Rails has the potential to be an alternative to Java in the enterprise sense," Michael Swindell, vice president of products and strategy at CodeGear, told internetnews.com. "We want to build tools that will be well-suited for development teams building long-lived applications with the Ruby language and the Ruby on Rails framework."

RoR is made up of two parts, the Ruby open source object-oriented programming language, and the Rails framework for developing and deploying AJAX-type applications with Ruby. Swindell noted that CodeGear's RoR IDE will differ from other Ruby-supporting IDEs, such as ActiveState's Komodo, in that CodeGear is more application-focused and more focused on the RoR framework than just support for the Ruby language.

The CodeGear RoR IDE is expected to include support for both command line control, as well as a full visual development environment. Swindell explained that the goal of the effort is to make RoR more scalable and to smooth over some of the potential issues that RoR introduces to developers.

RoR hides a lot of the inner working of applications in an effort to make development faster and easier. While that is great for short-term efforts, enterprises typically need to maintain applications over the long term, and that's where the CodeGear IDE comes in.

"Our goal is to let developers benefit from RoR, but let them understand what's happening in the application," Swindell said. "There is a lot of opportunity here for scalability in RoR, and it actually has a lot of the features that Java shops have been asking for, they want an easier Java than Java."

RoR provides something that is lightweight, hides complexity and supports rich Web interfaces that organizations are looking for today, according to Swindell.

The CodeGear RoR IDE will be based on the open source Eclipse IDE, as well as take advantage of the Eclipse Dynamic Languages Tool Kit (DLTK), which provides additional tooling for Ruby.

Borland spun on its CodeGear tools division in November after taking a loss in the third quarter of that year. Swindell noted that the RoR effort will help the division capitalize on a dynamic slice of the market.

"Ruby on Rails is the fastest-growing development framework and language in mindshare," Swindell said. "What we don't see yet is a lot of deployment, and I think that's the next phase. We see a lot of interest in our customer base and we see interest from traditional Java shops. The next step is providing tools that will help them build world-class application and be able to maintain them over the long term."

CodeGear's RoR IDE is currently in a private beta, with a public beta expected this summer and general availability slated for the fall.