When You Absolutely Have To: Rails Development in Windows
Try as I might to avoid it, there comes the inevitable point in a project when I have to start doing browser compatibility. Plenty of people use VMWare Fusion or Parallels to run Windows and OS X side by side, but I find them both slow and unreliable when it comes to real testing scenarios, which leaves me with the necessity of creating a Windows development stack for Rails. After some considerable looking, I’ve settled on what I consider to be the “best” tools for the job – though they still fall short of the OS X equivalents.
- Ruby/Rails: I use the full recommended Ruby distribution as opposed to InstantRails or similar to provide maximum flexibility and customization. I also use the MySQL Community Server for the database portion of my development stack.
- Version Control: TortoiseSVN is a very easy to use SVN front-end, but my fingers have long since learned the console commands and continue to crave them, so I use the Apache 2.0 binaries for Windows to allow me to use SVN from the prompt.
- Console: An absolutely indispensable application for me is Console. This open-source app provides tabbed command prompts in a much prettier interface with a number of other incredibly useful features. I highly recommend it.
- Editor: This isn’t a slam dunk, but the closest thing to TextMate in Windows is, well, the app that was created to be TextMate for Windows. E Text Editor is very good (though in my opinion still too buggy to be called a 1.0) and comes the closest to approximating my Mac development environment. The heavier IDEs such as NetBeans and Aptana With RadRails are also viable options, but I like the speed and simplicity of E.
These aren’t by any means the only tools available, and your needs/mileage may vary, but after finally getting this stack together I can develop in Windows without going into fits of hyperventilation and frustration. If you have your own indispensable tools for Rails development in Windows, I’d love to hear about them!