Friday Jan 02, 2009

Ruby Code Coverage in the builds now

I've checked the Ruby code coverage code into the trunk now, so if you grab a recent daily 7.0 build, it should be there. I found a Windows-specific bug in the Python code coverage code as well, so grab a new build if you're on that platform.

I've had some fun with Java2D lately. Instead of the ugly coverage bars I showed in my screenshots a couple of weeks ago, the coverage bars now have proper gradients, drop shadows behind the text etc.:

Another thing I added is a bar in the editor footer (while code coverage is enabled) which lists the coverage percentage for the current file, along with actions to quickly run the tests again, or bring up the coverage report, or clear the results, or finish the coverage mode. As well as warn you when your data is older than your code.

And finally, I updated the built-in and extra color themes to also have color definitions for the coverage highlights. Here's the Dark Pastels color theme with coverage data enabled:

Please let me know of any problems while this code is still fresh in my mind :)

Tuesday Dec 16, 2008

NetBeans Screenshot of the Week #39: Ruby Code Coverage, Python Code Coverage

Here's a new feature for NetBeans 7.0: Code Coverage support!

First a screenshot:

There are a couple of key points about the code coverage support:

  • It is fully integrated into the IDE, and especially the editor. You don't get read-only views of your files with coverage information; the files themselves include coverage highlights. You can view and edit the code directly, use your normal IDE navigation commands to jump around, and so on.
  • Enabling and disabling code coverage is trivial. There is no need to modify your build files, run special rake targets etc. Just select the menu checkbox to enable coverage in the new Code Coverage project menu, and then continue as before - run unit tests, run files, run the tests in your project - and the results are updated live as soon as the executed process finishes.

I didn't think a screenshot really described this feature well, so I recorded a couple of quick sessions where I use the feature:

Here's a couple more images if you have problems loading the videos:

<script type="text/javascript">
digg_url = '';
<script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>

The Python version is already in the 7.0 builds. The Ruby support isn't integrated yet; it probably needs some tweaking to make it work on Windows.

Wednesday Nov 12, 2008

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #34: Detecting Duplicates Hash Keys

You didn't think we had forgotten Ruby, did you? Here's a new Ruby editor feature: Detecting duplicate hashkeys. As "Fjan" (who filed the
request) says, when some Rails calls allow dozens or more keys, you can accidentally add a hash key twice, with subtle results. NetBeans now tracks these down and points them out for you.

This is going into 7.0, but you can use this 6.5-compatible module as well.

Martin and Erno have also been hard at work. There are many new features in 6.5 (which I'll cover when 6.5 ships in a week or two). But in the 7.0 trunk, the debugger can attach to arbitrary and remote processes - see
Martin's blog entry for more info. And Erno has added support for Shoulda testing and more test runner improvements - details here.

Sunday Jul 06, 2008

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #30: New YAML Editor

As part of our Ruby and Rails support, we've had a YAML editor in NetBeans for a couple of releases now. However, the support was primitive. Only the most basic editing features were there, and more problematically, many common, valid YAML constructs were not supported. You'd get various wrong error messages from the parser if you tried to go outside the normal simple syntax of the database.yml file in Rails.

In the latest dev builds however, there's a brand new implementation of a YAML editor. Let's start with a screenshot:

There are several things going on here. First, note that the editor now understands more complicated YAML constructs - such as the << key mapping merge operator. In this file, we've shared the definition of the "createdon" attribute. And in the navigator, as we drill down you can see this attribute showing up properly inlined in both places the reference was used.

Notice also how we have embedded Ruby code here (the green fragment inside <% %>). This is pretty important for another Rails usage of YAML: Fixtures. Just like in ERb/RHTML files, the YAML Ruby embedding support should be complete; quickfixes should work, go to declaration, smart indent and formatting, and so on - including code completion:

Finally, if you're a bit rusty on YAML and can't remember all the various escapes to do collections, aliases, documents, tags and so on, you can invoke normal code completion to see the various special characters - along with the YAML quick reference document in the documentation popup:

There are a few other things in there as well; AST based selection (Command-Shift-Dot or Comma), slightly better smart indent, and so on. One thing which is still missing is code folding. I disabled it since there were a few issues with it still.

I have to pause here and add a big Thank You to Ola Bini from the JRuby team! A few weeks ago, yet another bug report was filed by somebody complaining about a false error in the YAML support, and I decided to look into rewriting it from scratch using the same editor infrastructure that we have for Ruby, JavaScript, etc. The first thing I would need however is a YAML parser. I know JRuby had a good one, so I tried using it - but realized I would need to customize it a bit for IDE purposes. For example, I would need AST offset information. I thought of ways I could subclass parts of the YAML parser to achieve this, and I sent an e-mail to Ola asking if he thought this was feasible. I immediately got a response - and not only did he say it was possible, he offered to personally do it, by adding proper offset support into the parser. And just a couple of days later he released a new version of the parser with full offset support. It worked perfectly. With the parser in hand, implementing the above editing functionality was easy. So a lot of the credit for the new editor goes to Ola. Thank you!

As always with new functionality, please take it for a spin and report back any issues you find (using the normal feedback channels). NOTE - you do need the latest dev builds for this - even 6.5 Milestone 1 is too old. Some of this was checked in today so won't even be in the current nightly build (depending on when you read this).

Tuesday Jun 24, 2008

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #29: Test Navigator for RSpec

Let's start with the screenshot:

The thing to notice here is that we have a number of RSpec do-blocks in this file. Until now, only classes, methods, fields and attributes were showing up in the navigator. But in the latest daily builds, rspec do blocks like these are shown in the navigator (bottom left corner), along with the string summary (if any) such that you can quickly navigate between them. Placing the caret in one of these blocks will highlight the corresponding item in the navigator.

Adding a better navigator outline for spec files has been on the TODO list for a while, but apparently in the latest Rails builds regular tests are also switching away from using test methods to using test blocks (according to issue 137925, thanks James). So it seemed high time to do something about this.

The other thing to notice is that these blocks are also folded, so you can use Command-Shift-+ and - to collapse/expand all blocks quickly.

By the way, another old issue was fixed in NetBeans recently, which makes it easy to configure filetypes. In the past, if you wanted say .mab files to get Ruby treatment in the IDE, you'd file an issue and I'd modify the Ruby mimetype resolver to include it. The list is already pretty long -- .rb, .rake, .rxml, .rjs, .rbw, .rbx, .mab, .builder, .gemspec, and so on.

Now you can add any extra types you want yourself, using the Options | Miscellaneous | File Associations. Add any extensions you want, and bind them to the Ruby mime type and all the various Ruby editing machinery should kick in for files of that type.

NetBeans 6.5 Milestone 1 is about to be released and there are a lot of goodies there - both in the Ruby specific featureset as well as generic IDE support (such as the new Quick Search functionality). I'll look into that for another entry. And apologies for the long delay since my last entry - I blame it on a combination of having been sick, having taken some time off and having been busy with work...

Thursday May 29, 2008

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #28: Unit Testing, and Color Themes

NetBeans 6.1 has been out for a while, so we're working full steam ahead on NetBeans 6.5. There are a number of new features in the trunk, and I'll show a couple of them in this post. First of all though - if you have found ERB or RHTML file editing slow in NetBeans 6.1, please try NetBeans 6.5. There was a performance bug where if you have a lot of JavaScript files in your public/javascript folder, RHTML editing gets really slow. A fix for this will be released, but it didn't make it into Patch 1 so it will be addressed in patch 2. But the daily builds of NetBeans 6.5 has the fix, so if this bug is affecting you, please try the dailies instead. And as a side benefit, you'll be able to access the following features:

New Unit Test Runner!

Erno Mononen has written a new Test Runner UI. In 6.1, unit tests were just run and the normal output shown in the Output Window with some hyperlinks. In the new dedicated test runner, you get something similar to the JUnit window we've had for a file for Java. (Click on image for full size)

Be sure to run your test classes as tests (e.g. use Ctrl/Command F6 rather than Shift F6) such that the IDE will run your classes under the testing GUI. This works not just for Test::Unit but for RSpec as well. You can get more details about this in Erno's blog entry, and if you run into issues, please let us know.

The Aloha Color Theme

Mike McKinney has created a really nice dark color theme for NetBeans, called Aloha. I've taken his theme and have integrated it into our "Extra Color Themes" plugin which is available from the Daily Update Center (and soon, the Stable Update Center). To install it, get the plugin, and then go to the Options dialog and choose Aloha under the Fonts & Colors category. You can see more screenshots of Mike's theme in his blog entry. In previous releases we had some problems with CSS and JavaScript colors not being customizeable, but that is not a problem as of NetBeans 6.1 so hopefully all the file types look great. We still need to make the version control diffbar and the debugger breakpoint and current pc lines respect the current theme; hopefully we'll get to that in NetBeans 6.5.

By the way, you may notice that you only see the editor here. When you press Shift-Escape, the current window with focus gets maximized. I do that while editing a lot. You can press Shift-Escape to toggle it back - and you can also temporarily open the other windows (which you can see slide to the edges) by just hovering the mouse over them.

Finally, one minor feature which can come in handy in NetBeans 6.5 is that "Mark Occurrences" now has a keyboard shortcut for navigating between the references. Thus, if you put your caret on some symbol, you've probably noticed that it gets highlighted - along with other occurrences of that symbol in the same file. You can now use Control-Up and Control-Down to jump between these references. Pretty handy.

Oh, and one more thing - JRuby 1.1.2 was released a few days ago and NetBeans now bundled it - along with RSpec 1.1.4.

Friday Apr 04, 2008

Screenshot of the Week #28: NetBeans + JavaScript = True!

Apologies for my low activity on this blog recently. I've been swamped during the NetBeans 6.1 development cycle.
The main reason is that I've been completely consumed reimplementing the JavaScript support in NetBeans. It is
now built on the same infrastructure as the Ruby editor. It's been quite a sprint to get it done, but we're
about to freeze NetBeans 6.1, and it's in. And I think NetBeans now compares quite favorably against other JavaScript
IDEs and editors.

Does this mean I've moved on from Ruby, and the NetBeans Ruby support is now in maintenance mode?

Far from it! Not only did we double the size of the NetBeans Ruby team from 6.0 (when Martin Krauskopf and myself
were the team); in 6.1 Erno Mononen and Peter Williams joined us. And I'm still in charge of and working on the
Ruby editor - which in 6.1 adds complete Rails 2.0 support (and Rails 2.1 - I just yesterday integrated support
for the new UTC timestamp migrations), as well as
a bunch of new quickfixes, and tasklist integration, etc.

However, a lot of the work I've been doing has been on the editing infrastructure, which benefits
Ruby directly. For example, in NetBeans 6.1, the long file indexing process which would happen on every IDE startup
now happens only on the first startup. And more importantly, we're much more robust now in handling complicated
embedding scenarios in ERb/RHTML files. Where in 6.0 we had a lot of custom code to handle ERb specifically,
the generic language embedding support we have now means that most Ruby (and JavaScript!) editing features work
automatically and correctly in ERb files as well. So features like mark occurrences and semantic highlighting
which were not available in 6.0 now work in ERb files as well for Ruby.

My main motivation for working on the JavaScript editor was that we often got the feedback
from NetBeans Ruby users along the lines of "I love your Ruby editor, but my Rails application also needs JavaScript,
and I go to other tools for that". We want NetBeans to be a complete editing solution, and JavaScript is obviously
vital for any web framework, including Rails. Therefore, to be a top notch Ruby IDE, we have to have top notch JavaScript
editing as well.

So what are the new compelling JavaScript features in NetBeans 6.1? I'm not going to show everything here, but here's
a Rails-focused introduction to some of the features.

First, let's create a new Rails project. Then I open the public/javascripts/prototype.js file that ships with Rails (click for full size):

First, take a look at the semantic highlighting. Prototype-style method definitions are bolded. As with Ruby, unused local variables, parameters and catch scope variables etc. will be detected and underlined. And NetBeans figures out the scope of variables and shows you global variables in a different color (green, but that is obviously configurable). This helps you find cases where you perhaps have a typo so instead of referencing a local variable, you're accidentally trying to read a nonexistent global variable. Or, as is the case in this screenshot, they were probably accidentally declaring a global variable:

I doubt that the intention for this function was to leak out a new variable named position; the intention was probably to have included a var keyword here to make the loop variable local like this:

Let's move on to the quickfixes. Take a look at the vertical scrollbar on the right - here it is again (flipped horizontally) :

Each little yellow mark corresponds to a quickfix warning NetBeans has added at roughly that position in the source file. The tasklist view lists these such that you can sort by type. (This isn't some doctored up testcase file to exercise the quickfixes - this is the standard prototype.js file.)
Every quickfix type can be disabled - and they also offer links to more information about the error. Here's the warning for multiple return values:

The mark occurrences feature lists all the exit points of a function when you place the caret on top of the corresponding function keyword. Here you can see that we have both a plain return; with no return value, as well as another return with a value. How would a caller of this function treat the return value of this function?

There are a lot more detectors, which I will describe in a future blog post. Now, let's open the default index.html file that ships with Rails. Here's code completion on the Prototype $() function:

As you can see, it uses the HTML parse information (this is part of the language infrastructure I talked about earlier) to locate all the element ids in the document and offers those as completion. As you can see it includes those ids that were accessed by Rails' own $-calls for the lines above.

Code completion also works with the Prototype $$() function, which performs CSS selections. First, show the used element types in the document:

Then filter on the HTML element classes in the document:

There's just one - from a few lines later:

We can also filter on the many CSS pseudo classes:

This post is already getting long so I won't get into all the JavaScript features now.
Here's a blog entry somebody
else wrote with some more features and screenshots. The main point of this blog entry was to explain why
I've been so busy, what's in store for NetBeans 6.1, and to reassure you that NetBeans Ruby and JavaScript support
is going to continue developing at rapid clip. Code editing is a top priority for NetBeans!

Thursday Mar 13, 2008

Feature Comparisons

Aptana RadRails just shipped their 1.0 release. Congratulations!

One thing that spoiled things a bit for me is the
Feature Comparison matrix they posted on their website. Along with the predictable green column for RadRails, they have red X's next to a lot of features in the NetBeans column. Features that definitely are there in NetBeans (and in some cases I would argue more so than in Aptana).

If you're going to post a feature comparison I think it's a bit irresponsible to do so without actually checking what the competition offers. NetBeans is free (and no registration is even required), so it's easy to download to check, and if you don't even want to do that, just google "NetBeans Ruby" which will point right to our Wiki which has extensive feature lists listed right on the front page.

(Update: Their feature matrix has been updated, and now recognizes that NetBeans does in fact offer RHTML editing, YAML editing, and XML editing.) There are however a number of errors remaining. Here are some of them.

  • Yes, we have a JSON editor (and ours is free)
  • Yes, we also have TextMate templates (templates for Ruby,
  • Yes, we have Extract Method (Details)
  • Yes, we have Extract Constant (and we have Extract Variable and Extract Field as well, plus a number of other refactorings tied to the caret, listed in the RubyHints wiki page.) (Details)
  • Yes, we have RHTML code completion. (Details)
  • (This isn't really for the feature comparison since we don't ship it by default, but a regular expression tester is available for NetBeans as well - see this video for a tour.)

A green checkmark versus a red x seems a bit simplistic; not all feature implementations are equal. For code completion for example, there are factors such as how complete it is, how good the documentation markup is, parameter tooltips, whether completion helps you with hash keys, whether you get active record database field completion, and so on.

I'll forward this to their feedback alias so hopefully the page can be corrected. I'm trying to make the point to anyone else out there who is planning to make a competitive matrix: If you haven't actually checked, use a question mark rather than a red x for features from the competition.

Well, with that out of the way I don't want to rain on their parade; it's great that we have competition in the Ruby and Rails toolspace, and a 1.0 is a big accomplishment. Congratulations!

Friday Jan 18, 2008

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #27: Task List

I've posted a number of blog entries showing NetBeans quickfixes for Ruby. This helps you detect problems in code you happen to be working on, since it shows a yellow rather than green file status if there are warnings in the file. (The file status is shown on the right hand side of the editor pane, next to the vertical scrollbar).

Unfortunately, this doesn't give you an easy way to audit your code. If you want to find all potential problems in your code, you'd have to open each and every file and look for yellow editor annotations... Not a tempting task for projects with hundreds of source files.

No more. As of the latest NetBeans 6.1 development builds, the Ruby hints and quickfix functionality is integrated with the tasklist. All you need to do is open the tasklist window (Ctrl/Command-6 - the number, not F6, or find it in the Windows menu). The tasklist will scan the entire project - or indeed all open projects - or even just the currently edited file. The tasklist scope can be chosen by the toggle buttons on the left hand side of the window.

When you're working your way through the results, note that the tasklist responds to the Navigate | Next Error action (default bound to Ctrl/Command-Period). This will also warp the caret right to the editor location for the error, which means you can press Alt-Enter immediately to show the rule quickfixes, if any. One such quickfix is to disable a particular hint type, so if you don't like a particular warning you can suppress it by just turning off the rule.

I personally don't like the Output window occupying the entire IDE width. Luckily configuring the window layout is very easy - just drag the windows around to where you want them. In my preferred configuration, I drag the output-windows into the editor bottom such that you end up with a layout like this:

Note also that the tasklist isn't only hooked up to the quickfixes; it's hooked up to the error functionality too and any parsing errors in your project will be listed there, at the top of the list (since errors have a higher priority than hints and warnings).

Although you can disable hints as I've described above, you cannot turn off compiler warnings yet (such as the one about ambiguous parameters).

Anyway, I hope this will be helpful. Even if you're not a NetBeans user, perhaps you can try a quick audit of your source code with it. Get a 6.1 dev build here, open the IDE, choose "New Project", and then choose either a Ruby or a Rails project with existing sources. Point to your sources, hit Finish, and then open the tasklist and let it churn away. Send bug reports and other feedback here.

Thursday Dec 20, 2007

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #25: require_gem

There have been a number of releases lately. Rails 2.0 shipped. NetBeans 6.0 mostly supports it. There were a couple of changes, such as the scaffold generator's parameters changing meaning, and the new shorthand migration syntax, which affected NetBeans. I've committed changes to 6.1 to support these, so grab the latest if you're wanting complete Rails 2.0 support. However, note that we're in early 6.1 development so there's some big potentially destabilizing changes, such as a new platform manager which lets you choose per project ruby interpreters, configure separate gem repositories and so on. I'll post more about this when it's done. You don't need to upgrade if you're just wanting to use Rails 2.0 - nearly everything in NetBeans 6.0 works just fine.

JRuby 1.0.3 also recently
shipped, and I've just updated NetBeans 6.1 to use it. JRuby 1.0.3 lets you run Rails 2.0 without needing to install the optional jruby-openssl gem.

I just noticed that RubyGems 1.0 has
shipped. One of the changes in RubyGems is that the require_gem method, which has been deprecated for a while, is now gone - so you have to update your code appropriately. require_gem was used by previous versions of Rails, so many boot.rb files still reference it.

I just added a checker for this:

It's not just a warning - it's a quickfix:

The "Show More information" fix opens the browser on the release page for RubyGems 1.0 which briefly mentions the require_gem removal. If anyone has a better URL to an official and mostly permanent page (e.g. preferably not somebody's blog) discussing this change, I'd appreciate the link.

Ruby 1.9 is getting closer. Charlie recently
pointed out to me that they recently
decided that retry statements will as of Ruby 1.9 only be allowed inside
rescue blocks. Thus, we now have a hint to look for problems of this sort.

If anyone has
any ideas for other Ruby 1.9 migration issues, please
let us know!

Finally, let me end with a couple of links. The "Off The Line" blog has posted
cheatsheets for the NetBeans Ruby support, PDFs that summarize key shortcuts and other hints. And Michael Slater, one of the early adopters of the NetBeans Ruby support, will be offering a Rails Seminar in a couple of months, which is going to be using NetBeans. W00t!

Updated a few hours later: Dr. Nic pointed out that require_gem can't
just be replaced by gem and showed me how the code needs to be morphed. I've updated the
quickfix to do The Right Thing now - thanks Dr. Nic!

Monday Dec 03, 2007

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #24: Quick Fix Previews

First of all, NetBeans 6.0 (final) was released this morning. Go get it!

So let's talk about 6.1 :) I just updated the quickfix infrastructure such that we can automatically generate previews for how the hints will modify the source. I've also added some new hints.

Let's start looking at the user.rb file in the sample Depot application. If I place the caret inside one of the if blocks, a lightbulb appears:

NetBeans offers to replace this if-block with one where the "if" is a statement modifier. This idea came from the excellent "Exploring Beautiful Languages"
by Luis Diego Fallas, where he implements NetBeans Ruby hints -- in Scala!

Here's the new preview functionality in action; instead of just applying the fix I invoke the Preview and get the following dialog which shows what the fix will do:

Preview is particularly useful for larger source changes like Extract Method.

Here's another method from the same file:

Obviously, we can apply the same "convert to statement modifier" here, but look at the first suggested fix:

NetBeans will convert "if negative condition" to "unless", and "unless negative condition" to "if" to make the code more readable. This was also shown by Luis in his blog entry. Here's the proposed fix:

and we can apply the other conditional cleanup as well to end up with a much simpler statement:

There is one more recently added hint: Check for accidental assignments.

At first I got a lot of false positives for this hint, since many Ruby programmers seem to like to intentionally assign in their conditions. But then I updated the rule to only complain if the variable being assigned to had already been seen in this scope, and that seems to do the trick perfectly. Newly assigned variables are intentional side effects of the assignment, and assignments to existing variables are likely bugs and should be avoided.

Monday Nov 12, 2007

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #23: Extract Method and More Refactorings!

Last week I promised to catch up on my e-mail, but I had been missing feature work too much during the bug phase so I put it off for a week... to implement some more quickfix refactorings:

  • Extract Method

  • Introduce Variable

  • Introduce Constant

Here's how it works. Let's start with "Extract Method". You're looking at some code like this:

You decide there's too much going on in this method, and you want to pull the middle section into
its own method. Select it, and notice the lightbulb which shows up on the left:

Press Alt-Enter to show the quick fix alternatives:

Select Extract Method, and the IDE will pop up a dialog asking you for the name of the new method you want to extract from the selected code fragment:

Press OK (or just hit Enter), and the code will mutate into the following:

There's a lot to notice here. First, there's a new method, and the active selection and caret is on a comment for that method (so you can just type to replace it). The new method is added below the one you extracted code from. And the most important part about this refactoring is that the IDE figures out which variables to pass in to the method, and which variables to pass back out:

  • a, b and d are accessed from within the fragment, so they are passed in.
  • c is reassigned in the fragment without reading the previous value, so
    doesn't need to be passed in.
  • f and h are assigned locally inside the extracted fragment, but are not read
    outside of it, so do not need to be passed back out
  • g is assigned inside the fragment, and read later outside, so it is returned
    from the new method but not passed in
  • h is assigned inside the fragment, and is read later, but it is assigned
    before this read access so the value doesn't need to be passed back
  • i is also assigned inside the fragment, and -may- be read after the fragment,
    so it too is passed back out

Ruby's multiple return values makes this refactoring much cleaner than in Java where you have
to jump through some hoops to extract code fragments that modify multiple local variables...

Now let's take a look at Introduce Constant. Let's say you're looking at code like this (unlike the above contrived example from one of my unit tests for Extract Method, the following is from
the standard Ruby Library's Date class):

There are a lot of "magic" numbers here. I honestly don't know what some of them are - but I recognize 365.25 as the number of days per year. Let's make that clearer - select that constant. (Tip - just move the caret to it and press Ctrl-Shift-Dot, which selects progressively larger logical elements around the caret). This produces the above lightbulb, so let's press Alt Enter again:

I can now choose to either introduce a field, or a variable, or a constant. A constant is most natural here. (You won't be offered constant if the selected code fragment is not a constant expression.) So choose Introduce Constant:

In the dialog asking for the name of the new constant, notice that it also detected some duplicates of this constant in the same class (3 of them to be exact), and asks if you want to replace all of them. I do - so I select the checkbox and press Ok:

The IDE has inserted a new constant at the top of the class, and has warped to it to let me edit a comment for the constant. I can also scroll down and see that the constants below were updated:

The search for duplicates only looks for single constants at the moment, not more complicated expressions - it will do that soon. As always, please report any bugs you encounter. This is in the daily 6.1 trunk builds, although I've deliberately kept the code 6.0 compatible such that I can put this out on the update center for 6.0 as well.

Monday Nov 05, 2007

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #23: Open Type and Open Method

As of 20 minutes ago, NetBeans 6.0 entered high resistance, meaning that from this point on, only critical "showstopper" bugs will be addressed. We're spinning a release candidate in a a week, and after repeating that once or twice, NetBeans 6.0 will be done!

It's been a long sprint getting to this point, including last minute bug fixing. We took the kids to the waterfront in Berkeley yesterday where they had a blast with bugs while I blasted bugs (see picture on the left).

My e-mail inbox has been suffering the last couple of months. On the right is a snapshot of the sidebar in my Mail tool - the numbers listed next to each folder is the number of unread mail in that folder... As you can see, the number of unread mails addressed directly to me is a lot lower than in other categories (such as commit bug report mails) but even there I'm a bit behind.
Now that 6.0 is winding down I can hopefully catch up on some of it - and apologies to those of you with e-mails in that pile. At least you know it's not a personal insult!

Let's get to some Ruby screenshots. One thing I fixed this week was some bugs around the "Open Type" dialog (Ctrl-O, or Command-O on the Mac). I finally made "CamelCase" navigation work properly not just for classes but for module qualifiers as well, so if you for example want to open ActionController::Base, just type AC::B:

If you had typed AV instead it would have shown ActionView instead of ActionController, and so on.

Another thing I fixed is the ability to specify a specific method in a class - just use "#" as in rdoc to specify Class#method, or omit the class to search across all classes. Let's jump to methods starting with rend such as Rails' render:

Or how about the to_xml methods - but only in modules that start with "A":

You can also use wildcards. Here's all methods that contain load somewhere in the name:

P.S. There are still some bugs around being able to use camel case and regexps when filtering methods - I'll address those in the first update release.

Friday Oct 26, 2007

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #22: Go To Specific Location

It's bugfixing all the way these days - I apologize for being behind on my e-mail. We're freezing 6.0 pretty soon (in eight days), so I'd really like to get some help testing the last minute fixes. More about that shortly. But first, some screenshots.

One longstanding bug we've had is that our "Go To Declaration" (holding the Ctrl or Command key down while clicking on classes or methods) would jump to a different place than you were intending. With Ruby's open classes, there are many definitions for a class, so if you want to jump to say the File class, did you want the one in ftools.rb? Or perhaps in pp.rb? We have some heuristics which pick which reference is "best" - it involves looking at things like whether each declaration has documentation, whether it's directly loaded by your file using require statements, and so on. But this can never be perfect. So, to solve this problem, Go To Declaration clicks (or Ctrl/Command-B) will now pop up a dialog when there are multiple possibilities. As before, one item is NetBeans' best guess - and it's shown first and in bold. All you have to do is press Enter or click on it to jump as before. But other matches are shown too, in a sorted order. First are the documented entries, and at the very end, :nodoc: entries (shown with
a strikethrough font effect).

Here's how this look if you for example try to jump to TestCase:

If you don't like this behavior, you can always turn it off by running NetBeans with


This was added just this week. Something related which has been there for a while is documentation
tooltips. If you're holding the hyperlink-modifier key (Ctrl/Command) and hover over methods and
classes, it will display a tooltip with the type of the symbol and its documentation. For example,
in a Rails controller test, here's what I got:

I just (a few hours ago) checked in a bunch of changes to clean up how NetBeans handles the gem load
path. It should now finally handle $GEM_HOME properly, as well as vendor gems and in particular, vendor/rails. Thus, the active record completion I showed last week
should now work with Rails 2 and edgerails. NetBeans should properly pick gems both from the current project as well as the current gem root (based on which gem version is higher). However, all of these changes were a bit involved... So I would really appreciate if people could grab the current bits (build 4866 or later from and take it for a quick spin. Make sure that code completion etc. picks up your gems as before. You may have to wipe out the cached indices (userdir/var/cache/) if you have any problems. Don't worry, it's always safe to wipe out stuff inside var/cache.) If there any problems, please let me know now since we're about to freeze for 6.0.

P.S. Beta 2 was released this week - download,
New And Noteworthy

Tuesday Oct 16, 2007

Ruby Screenshot of the Week #21: ActiveRecord Completion

Let's jump to the good stuff right away:

Okay, now let's motivate it. Let's say you're writing a migration:

Hmm, what's the second parameter to the column method again?

Ah yes, the column type. Notice how the RDoc for the method call surrounding
the completion point is shown above - and perhaps more importantly, the symbol alternatives for
the current parameter are also
proposed below. Let's choose one.

Ah yes, the third parameter - the options. Again the documentation is
shown above (I've cropped it in this image) where you can read the details -
but many of the alternatives are listed here. Let's choose the :null hash key.

The parameter completion support I've shown here isn't specific to ActiveRecord. Let's say you're in
an ERB file and calling into say the NumberHelpers:

Anyway, we're done editing the migration. Now let's jump over to a controller file and reference the Product model that is using the database table for this migration. Let's ask for completion on the @product field that was just populated with a Product object:

The icon should make it really clear that these attributes are coming from the database as opposed to some dedicated attribute code in the Product implementation. Notice how NetBeans also shows the type for each of the columns. Completion also works for the dynamic finders that Rails generates. Let's ask for completion on find_by (this also works for find_all_by):

NetBeans offers code completion for models by examining the migration files. Let's go create another one. Here's
completion again, this time completing on the table name argument to rename_column:

Let's say we rename the description column to desc:

If we now invoke code completion in the controller again, notice how the Product attributes correctly
reflect the result of combining the migrations:

NetBeans will also use the schema.rb file that Rails will automatically generate if you run the db:schema:dump Rake target. This is useful if your migrations are doing creative things that NetBeans can't figure out, or if you're renaming tables (which NetBeans doesn't model right in this release.) With a schema dump file, not only does NetBeans have to do less work to figure out your migrations, its format is predictable such that the code completion should be completely accurate.

P.S. This doesn't work right if you freeze Rails into your project; you need to be using Rails via Rubygems. I'll fix that soonish.


Tor Norbye


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