Tuesday Jul 08, 2008

Erno Talks About New Rails Features and Customer Involvement

One of the software engineers that I get to work with on the NetBeans Ruby project is Erno Mononen, who works in Prague. Erno works mostly on the NetBeans Ruby IDE, but is also involved in some parts of the Java EE support in the NetBeans IDE. I am finally catching up with the documentation for 6.1 and took some time to talk with Erno about the work that he is doing for the upcoming 6.5 release.

Chris: The new Test Runner UI that you recently added to the 6.5 development version is awesome. Can you tell us about other cool changes that you are making to the next version of Ruby support?

Erno: Thanks! I'll be looking into adding support for Warbler, which offers a more elegant way to create a .war file out of a Rails application than the currently supported GoldSpike plugin. I'd also like to implement a couple of enhancements in the database and server integration areas, such as adding support for additional servers. And last but not least, there is still a lot to do in the test runner -- I've gotten some very good ideas from our users, and would like to address as many of those as possible for 6.5.

Chris:You mention ideas from users. How do users submit ideas to the NetBeans Ruby engineering team?

Erno:There are several different ways to do that. Users can file enhancement requests directly into our issue tracker or they can send their ideas to the dev@ruby.netbeans.org or users@ruby.netbeans.org mailing lists, where they can be discussed with the community. Furthermore, most of the developers in the Ruby team have blogs that are open for comments. Lastly, we welcome anyone to come to have a chat if you see us around at conferences or anywhere else. Feedback is always appreciated.

Chris: Can you give examples of user suggestions that you have incorporated into the product?

Erno: I think the new test runner serves as a good example both of a user requested new feature and smaller enhancement. It was our users who requested this in the first place, so the test runner as a whole is a user requested feature that has been incorporated into the product. In addition, since its incorporation our users have been active in filing bugs and enhancements for it. For example, the error badges for failing tests in the test tree view of the runner were suggested by a user.

Chris: Can you talk about some of the 6.5 features that you think Ruby programmers will look forward to seeing?

Erno: Hopefully the new test runner will be one of those features :\^) There are quite a few other things as well that I think our users may find of interest, to mention a few of them:

  • The new Rake task runner, which Martin Krauskopf implemented, makes running rake tasks much more convenient
  • Client side JavaScript debugging should be useful to many Rails developers
  • The Quick Search feature offers fast access to all the actions registered in the IDE

In addition there are a lot of improvements in JavaScript, Ruby, and CSS editing, and naturally a bunch of bug fixes in all areas.

Chris: So what do you do when you are not working on the IDE?

Erno: I spend most of my free time with my wife and son, but when I have some time just for myself, I can usually be seen either doing various sports, reading books, or playing the guitar.

Chris: Thanks Erno, I look forward to writing about the new NetBeans Ruby features for 6.5.

Notes: You can download Milestone 1 (a pre-beta version) of NetBeans IDE 6.5 from www.netbeans.org. The Ruby Trails web page has links to Erno's blog as well as the other engineers who work on the NetBeans Ruby IDE. The NetBeans Ruby Wiki page has links to the most recent entries of all these blogs. Also, you can view the NetBeans Ruby mailing lists at Nabble.

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