Category Archives: Development Tools

Using Gedit as a Ruby IDE

For a long time I have been a Netbeans ‘person’ when it comes to Ruby IDEs. However when Oracle announced that they will discontinue Ruby support for Netbeans, I decided to start looking for alternatives instead of ranting how Darth Ellison is screwing the OSS community in his quest to rule the interwebs.

I went hunting and found Rubymine the slick Ruby editor from Jetbrains with a lot of bells and whistles. Rubymine turned out to be a solid IDE and it is what presently my colleagues at work use. Its got good support for other ruby frameworks such as Cucumber, Rspec and Shoulda. It seemed like a mature IDE.

After the 30 day free trial period was over,  I continued the search. I tried Vim for a few days but my vim skills are not as sharp so I left it just for editing system and config files. Later I tried Redcar. It was cool and kinda much lighter than Netbeans and Rubymine. I used it for a couple of weeks then decided to move on since it seemed new and was still trying to get traction.

I once tried Aptana 2 years ago and I dread ever going back. At the time I was just getting into Ruby from Java and I needed an IDE that looked like Eclipse. I ended up trashing it a few days later as it constantly crashed on me. Maybe they’ve improved it.

Then I came across some blog post of a guy who modified his Gedit to look like Textmate. The idea of using such a lightweight editor and the fact that it wouldn’t hog on my limited resources as a fully fledged IDE would seemed a good enough reason to try it. I spent quite some time tweaking the syntax highlighting color scheme and the more I did the more I liked the result. I installed a few plugins and that’s when I really got hooked. That kinda addiction you get after you’ve spent a few hours playing Minecraft.  A few months later while setting up a new workstation I come across Gmate and since then I’ve never looked at another IDE again. I swear!

Gmate awesomeness

So what Gmate really is is its a set of plugins and improvements to make Gedit a powerful programmer code editor.

To setup Gmate just do the following (Assuming youre running Linux already and you have Gedit installed)
For ubuntu

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-on-rails/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install gedit-gmate

Then install the gedit plugins
$ sudo apt-get install gedit-plugins
That’s it. All you have to do thereafter is just edit the Gedit preferences to your liking.

My setup consists of the following

  • Tab width: 2 spaces.
  • Line numbering enabled.
  • Right margin at column 80
  • Turned on Automatic Indentation
  • Font: Liberation Mono 11
  • Color Scheme: Customized Railscasts black. If you need to customize any of the color schemes, check under the folder /usr/share/gtksourceview-2.0/styles/. They are just XML files with hex color codes. You can overwrite a pre-existing one but I prefer using one as a template and editing it like hell.


  • Embeded Terminal
  • File browser Pane
  • Multi-edit
  • TODO List
  • Tab Switch
  • Textmate Style autocompletion
  • Code comment
  • Find in Files
  • Rails Extract Partial