Irb vs Rails Console Whats the Difference

Every ruby/rails programmer knows how much valuable are friends like irb and rails console. I particularly am very fond of them, because any time I want to try something, I instantly use them. You also must be aware of bundle console and bundle exec irb.

So, actually we have four such tools, but what is the difference between all four of them, if any.

irb vs bundle exec irb vs bundle console vs rails console


irb is just plain simple ruby console. What I mean by that is it just loads your core ruby libraries. It does not care whether you have gemfile lying around. So if you want to add anything else, you would need to use require.

If you have a gem installed, you can require that gem inside irb. If you used bundler install, irb may not necessarily require the same version of that gem, since it ignores your gemfile and thus gemfile.lock as well.

bundle exec irb

bundle exec irb comes to help, when you want to require the version of gem specified in your gemfile, something that irb cannot. bundle exec irb allows you to load the gems that your bundler knows about and only the gems that bundler knows about.

bundle console

bundle console goes one step further bundle exec irb. The latter allows you to load gems specified in gemfile, but the former already requires them for you

Tip - you can require all the gems in bundle exec irb if you do Bundler.require inside the console. All the gems will be required, except for those which aren’t marked required: false

rails console

rails console manages to jump one step ahead of bundle console by even loading the environment for you. So inside its console, you can play around with your rails app and your database connections work and everything works the way you would expect. Its a real life saver, trust me on that. This is most helpful when you are working on a rails app.

Tip 2 - if you do require_relative config/environment.rb inside the console of bundle console, you would get the equivalent of rails console