Confessions of a NetBeans Ruby User

Teera Kanokkanjanarat is a Sun campus ambassador who recently contributed the tutorial Swing with JRuby: Developing a Desktop Application with the JRuby and Java Swing APIs. Here we interview Teera to find out more about his interest in NetBeans Ruby.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I've been working as a freelance software developer for about 8 years ever since finishing high school. My work mainly focuses on the web platform with various technologies ranging from Java, ASP.NET, PHP, and recently I got started on Ruby and Rails. Since November 2006, I've been hired by Sun as a campus ambassador at Simon University in British Columbia, Vancouver, where I'm completing my degree in Computing Science and Business Administration.

What is your interest in Ruby?

Coming from the strongly-typed language world of Java and C#, I find the flexibility and dynamic of the Ruby language to be very interesting. I believe that the productivity of developers has a heavy impact on the cost of software projects. I often find that I waste time waiting for the project to compile and re-deploy to web or application servers. So that's the first thing I found really appealing when I started working with the Ruby and Rails framework. Ruby seems to gain a lot of momentum on the web platform with the Rails framework. Now I'm more interested in the future of Ruby as a rich client on the desktop.

How did you learn Ruby?

I started out on Hal Fulton's The Ruby Way book to learn the Ruby language itself and the Ruby way of doing things. I often watch screencasts and vodcasts for techniques on learning Rails. I'm also a member of the Vancouver Ruby and Rails user group, where I attend monthly meetings. This is an interesting group; as a Java guy, I learn so much from others who work with Ruby on a daily basis.

What do you like and dislike about Ruby?

The Ruby language itself is beautiful. There are not many programming languages that are as intuitive and give me that "wow this is cool stuff!" sort of thrill. Of course, this is also because of Ruby's coding conventions and key principles.

I actually did a small experiment re-creating one of my old, small Java-based web projects with Ruby on Rails. I found that the entire project on RoR actually contains fewer lines of code than that in the previous version's configuration files!

In my opinion, performance and deployment are still the key issues of Ruby. JRuby and other initiatives are really aiming on these two issues.

How has NetBeans helped you build Ruby apps?

I tried RadRails, TextMate, and InstantRails. Yet, I like Netbeans Ruby support the most, especially in code editing, the Ruby debugger, and the auto-complete capability. Netbeans is tightly integrated with JRuby as well.

Tell us about the NetBeans Ruby app you are currently building?

I'm developing JSF web components for one of the my clients. There's future planning to release these components in rich client version (Swing and SWT). I'm doing an experimental project on how to leverage JRuby for developing these desktop components.

What was your favorite experience as a Sun ambassador?

Meeting with people! I made a lot of friends from around the world through this program. I also learned a lot from talking to people when I do evangelizing work, whether it's a tech demo or a presentation at a user group. Nothing beats learning from those who do real work out there in the field.

What are some things you like to do outside school and work?

I started a small coffee shop back when I was 19 and opened up a day-spa with my sister about two years ago. Both of them are in Thailand. So, I'm helping my sister run them remotely.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Completing my degree is my first priority (it has been delayed several times due to my work). After finishing my term at Sun at the end of this year, I'll be joining Business Objects as a software developer. In the next five years, I might do another startup if there some good ideas come along, but things change, you never know.

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