Thursday, March 13, 2008

Feature Comparisons

WARNING: This blog entry was imported from my old blog on (which used different blogging software), so formatting and links may not be correct.

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, March 7, 2008

Roundup Roundup

WARNING: This blog entry was imported from my old blog on (which used different blogging software), so formatting and links may not be correct.

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It's Friday morning and I've spent whole the week in beautiful Crested Butte in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. Today is the last day of the
Java Posse Roundup 2008, the second time we're hosting this open space conference. It has been a blast!

The format is 4 hours of open-space discussions every morning, then skiing in the afternoon, and then we have "lightning talks" in the evenings - 5 minute quick presentations that are short enough that the speaker is forced to be concise so the presentations are always interesting.

Last night we also passed around the microphone and recorded conference impressions. Dick has already mixed it and uploaded it as the latest episode -
Episode 168. We've obviously
recorded all the technical sessions as well and those will be posted to the normal Java Posse podcast feed over the next couple of months. I believe Joe and Dianne also recorded the lightning talks with a little video camera and those will be posted to our new
YouTube channel.

Just like last year, a huge part of the success is due to the great set of participants. With so many different points of view and insights, every single session I've attended this week have been stimulating. While most of the participants came from the US, we even had 4-5 people attending from Europe! Stephan Janssen from the Belgian JUG has posted his pictures
here - the following picture is his. Notice the amount of snow we had!

The following photo (by Matt Zimmer) is from one of the lightning talks:

Again notice the snow outside the windows. The lightning talks might be my favorite - 15-20 quick presentations back to back on subjects ranging from techy things like
literate programming plugins for OpenOffice, Scala refactoring and JavaFX and Flex demos, Quantom Gravity and quantum cryptography, to Anime,
to Stephan showing us the Java Polis artwork (which I've talked about
before), and not just the ones that made it -- the ones that were rejected as well!

Some other coverage from O'Reilly's Chris Adamson
and here,
Ido Green
Joe Nuxoll, and
Chris Maki.