Martin talks about Rake Runner, Ruby Debugging, and Other 6.5 Enhancements

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am researching the new Ruby and Rails features in the upcoming NetBeans IDE 6.5. Last week, Martin Krauskopf and I talked about the work that he is doing. Some of you might know Martin from his earlier work with Jesse Glick on NetBeans Module Development (also known as APISupport) which was great experience for him. Before he joined Sun, Martin says that he "enjoyed a short experience working on the Vim plugin for Eclipse ;)".

One of his most noticeable pieces of work for 6.5 is the new Rake Runner dialog box, which I am finding to be a nice improvement. In addition, Martin has also done an overhaul on the Rake infrastructure, and he worked on providing a pre-generated Rakefile for new projects, which includes tasks such as clean, gem, packages, rdoc, spec, and test (Martin: thanks Dudley Flanders for tips).

On the debugging side, he has released new versions of the fast JRuby debugger and ruby-debug-ide gems, which the 6.5 IDE utilizes to bring support for conditional breakpoints and catchpoints (breakpoint on exception).

You will also see improvements in the Ruby Gems Manager. When you open up the manager, you can now easily switch the platform, without having to wait for the manager to finish fetching the data for the currently selected repository. Martin also added the -a (fetch all versions) and -d (fetch detailed gem description) options for tweaking gems fetching so that it goes a bit faster. If the manager finds that it doesn't have permissions on the repository directory for updating and installing gems, it will now invoke the underlying gem commands using gksu or kdesu, as appropriate (if it finds it).

Two other changes that Martin made were to (1) provide support for Rubinius, an addition to MRI Ruby and JRuby, and (2) Enable you to use the project's Properties dialog box to pass JVM options to JRuby, such as -Djruby.objectspace.enabled=true. Martin is also looking for user situations where something might go wrong and is trying to either make sure that the user gets good messages to help resolve the problem, or have the IDE handle the situation better. His goal is to provide good problem detection capabilities and to provide users with more useful help and clues in such situations. He is focusing on the areas where there are multiple interpreters and multiple Gem Home and Gem Path settings, some with root-writable repositories, as well different VMs with different fast debugging support. He has made several enhancements in this area for 6.5 and will continue working on this for 6.5 and in the next release.

For 6.5, if time permits, he would also like to add support for the Rubinius fast debugger that is being developed by Adam Gardiner, and polish some problems and behaviors of all debuggers generally, since there are still a few remaining issues after the ruby-debug-ide overhaul.

I asked Martin what he does when he isn't working so hard. He likes to spend his free time doing sports such as skiing and biking. He usually spends his vacations with his girlfriend and their friends traveling in his own country (Czech Republic), or around the world, often in the mountains with backpacks. His best vacation was the trip to Himachal Pradesh in the north-west of India.

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