Engine Yard, home of the JRuby core team, today announced its first developer support services offering around the environment. If developers have questions or problems, or a bug that needs fixing in JRuby, a subscription gets them the proverbial “one throat to choke.”

Thomas Enebo, a JRuby lead developer, said Engine Yard’s support offerings for JRuby had been in the works while he and Charles Nutter, cofounder of the JRuby project, were at Sun Microsystems.

“We were a little frustrated we couldn’t get that ball moving faster at Sun,” said Enebo. “Every time we go to a conference, we have people walking up saying, ‘You guys have got to offer support.’ There seems to be demand for it.”

Engine Yard is targeting developers with JRuby support, priced starting at US$10,000 per year, and Enebo said he and the JRuby team will prioritize fixes for paying customers.

Support will also extend to JRuby 1.5, which should be ready for release at the end of April. Enebo said that the focus for release 1.5 has been smoothing over compatibility issues and integrating JRuby into standard ANT-based Java workflows.

“We realized if you want to attract Java developers, they probably want the Ruby stuff to integrate nicely [into their development environment],” said Enebo. “So, if you’re an ANT developer, it’s easy to go in and call Rake. Also, you can now generate a simple Java.class file. With jrubyc, our compile command, you can generate a Java.class file and use it inside a pure Java project like it was a normal Java file.”

JRuby 1.5 should be available in release-candidate form by mid-April.