Tuesday Dec 09, 2008

Our NetBeans Ruby Book is Done!

If you have been wondering why this blog has been so quiet for so long, it is because I was working on a NetBeans Ruby book with Brian Leonard. Brian asked me to help him with the book and I am glad that he did. It was a good experience working with Brian and I am happy with how it turned out.

The book is published by Apress and is available in ebook and hard copy here.

In the book we delve into the details of how to use the IDE to develop Ruby and Ruby on Rails projects. If you haven't tried NetBeans IDE 6.5 yet, I am sure you will find the book helpful from start to finish. For those who are upgrading, the book helps you to learn about the new features. Even if you are an experienced NetBeans user, I bet you will find stuff you don't know, especially in the chapters on using the editor and on customizing the IDE.

We got a lot of help from a lot of people along the way. Foremost were the NetBeans Ruby engineers Erno Mononen and Martin Krauskopf who patiently answered every question. Erno was also the book's technical reviewer. Tor Norbye contributed to the editing chapter, and Nick Sieger helped with the chapters about Warbler and JRuby. When it came to GlassFish, we leaned on Arun Gupta and Peter Williams.

I would also like to thank the frequent posters to the users@ruby.netbeans.org alias, such as Bharat, Anthony, and James, who provided a good user perspective and answered my requests for information about best practices.

Last, I want to show appreciation for my managers Sophia and Dave for their support all the way through the process, and for my husband who took over most of my chores without complaint so I could spend my spare time working on the book.

Monday Sep 17, 2007

Arun Pushes the Edge of the JRuby/GlassFish Envelope

Last week, Arun Gupta paid a visit to the NetBeans Ruby writers. It was great to finally meet this dynamo in person and find out what a nice guy he is. When we first started writing about NetBeans Ruby, we used Arun's blog Miles to Go as one of our resources to quickly learn about the technology. Arun tells us that the blog's name has a double meaning: he is both an avid runner and he feels like he has a lot to learn in his job.

In addition to Ruby/JRuby and GlassFish, Arun blogs on a variety of topics, including jMaki, web services, WSIT, Ajax, and Web 2.0. Arun somehow manages to be one of the first to write about how to use emerging technologies, so we like to keep an eye on his blog to find out what we will be writing about in the future. For example, last Friday, he blogged about a new GlassFish gem for Rails. We also like to follow his popular "Tip of the Day" entries. You will often see his information folded into our tutorials. Arun seems to really understand his audience's information needs and he has been very helpful by providing good suggestions as to what to include in our tutorials.

Wednesday Sep 12, 2007

Native Ruby and JRuby Support in NetBeans IDE 6.0

There is a rumor floating around that the NetBeans IDE Ruby support only works for JRuby. Don't believe it. The IDE makes it very easy to use your own Ruby installation in addition to the bundled JRuby software. As a matter of fact, the first time that you open or create a Ruby project, the IDE looks on your system for other Ruby installations. If it finds any, it pops up a dialog box listing the available installations and lets you choose which one to use.

Using JRuby is just like using Ruby, and you don't have to know anything about Java to use JRuby. You can open your existing Ruby applications for development in the IDE and work with them using the IDE's features regardless of whether you have chosen to use the JRuby interpreter or your native Ruby interpreter. The one exception that I know of is that with JRuby you have to use the ActiveRecord-JDBC adapter if you are using a database server other than MySQL. However, all you have to do is to put the client driver in JRuby's lib folder, make a couple of simple changes to your database.yml, and add a snippet to your environment.rb. Tom Enebro writes about it here. The ActiveRecord-JDBC adapter works with MySQL, Postgresql, Oracle, Derby/Java DB, HQLSDB, and H2 database management systems.

One of the advantages of using JRuby is that you can access Java libraries from your Ruby application. Tor and Cindy put together a great video about this for NetBeans TV.

Another benefit is that you can war up a JRuby application and deploy it to a Java application server, such as GlassFish, just like you would with a Java web application. Arun Gupta has written several blog entries about this and the upcoming Installing and Setting Up Ruby tutorial provides step-by-step instructions for one of the simpler methods of deploying to the GlassFish server. One advantage of deploying to Java application servers is that they are designed to be multi-threaded and thus can handle more than one request at a time. In addition, Java application servers provide tools that make it easier to manage your deployed applications. For detailed information about creating and deploying JRuby applications, see the Rails Integration page on the JRuby wiki.

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