Bellowing&Groaning

Rails editor problem

I bought my first Mac in 2007. The jump was driven by one major need: Ruby on Rails. You see, I still design stuff and I need tools like Photoshop around. Mac OS X was the best of both worlds. So obviously the first app that I’ve installed was Textmate. All rails people were using it so it was a no brainer decision at the time.

Quickly, I’ve fell in love with it and got a grip on the workflow. But, around that time Panic released Coda. It was a view in the future. No other app looked and behaved like it did. Naturally, I’ve given it a try. Shining only in working with html, css and php — it didn’t cater for my rails needs. So it was a no go.

Then MacRabbit released the first version of Espresso. Oh my! The power of CSS Edit live preview mixed with a gorgeous interface made my Textmate so jealous. Still not optimized for Rails development, but the promise of Sugars — the moniker for Espresso plugins — suggested a bright future. Now we had four very well regarded editors on the Mac, the aforementioned three and BBEdit, the grandfather of all OS X editors. This developer heaven compelled me buy my first Mac.

But things were not meant to last.

Textmate soon became abandonware despite the community and its passion for creating bundles. Coda started to move to a more PHP centered direction by implementing built-in Subversion support and powerful Transmit like FTP actions. The guys behind Espresso went in a cone of silence and BBedit was never my thing in spite of numerous tries from my part.

Rails developers started to migrate to other tools like Vim. Things appear to be dead.

Though both Panic and MacRabbit have announced the second version of their editors, things have moved so rapidly in the Rails world that I believe that only a major push will make them catch up. Sadly both companies have a history of long release cycles and secrecy. We live in a world where the asset pipeline in Rails 3.1 will default to sass and coffescript — if erb would have been replace by haml, these tools would have been totally unfitted for modern rails development. For example, the CSS Edit component with all the bells and whistles like live preview, x-ray and inspector in Espresso are totally useless with the css concatenation of Rails 3.1.

We now have the Mac App Store, Mac OS X Lion with so many interesting API features that can be implemented, plus such a huge market of developers. The platform and the framework move so fast we don’t have proper tools anymore. It’s too bad that, right now, I cannot recommend any editor for rails development on OS X. And that is just sad.