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Monday, 6 August 2012

Ruby development on Windows via RubyInstaller

Takeaway: With RubyInstaller, Windows developers no longer need to jump into a Linux environment to work with Ruby projects.

In years past, Ruby development on Windows was considered somewhat arduous and lacking in support, but now Ruby developers who prefer to work within the confines of Windows have something to be excited about. Windows users can use RubyInstaller to write and test great Ruby scripts without resorting to SUA for Windows or a Linux virtual machine in order to take advantage of the Ruby environment.

RubyInstaller, available to install with 1.8.x stable and 1.9.x dev flavors of Ruby on hand, turns Windows into a quality environment for developing and testing Ruby code; it also includes comprehensive support for RDoc, rake-compiler, and RubyGems. You are up and running within mere moments after installation, with the ability to load Interactive Ruby Shell (IRB) and Ruby scripts straight from the command line with little fuss. Need to install both Ruby 1.8.x and 1.9.x in an effort to stay up on the cutting edge while retaining a backwards-compatible environment as needed? Pik for Windows allows for Ruby version selections, in a fashion similar to Ruby Version Manager (RVM) for Linux and UNIX.

Gems for Ruby install just as you would expect on any non-Windows platform. Simply issue the command “gem install ” and watch as the packages of your choice are briskly fetched and deployed to the system. This is how I was able to get my gems and dependencies working, and no additional command line-fu was necessary. Note: Windows is not considered a “sane” environment with a developer toolchain such as gcc and other *nix tools, which is why some gems might not work without a little help. DevKit is an add-on that aims to solve this conundrum and can be downloaded from the RubyInstaller website. It will give Windows the userland tools necessary to make gems feel right at home.

Although RubyInstaller still has a few rough edges around the corners and isn’t a perfect panacea for all situations, it solves the majority of the issues surrounding Ruby on Windows. RubyInstaller’s easy to install package and excellent documentation are additional reasons why this software is worthwhile. Give RubyInstaller a try, and report back and share your experiences with the TechRepublic community.


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