FiveRuns, a startup that helps you mange applications built in the Ruby on Rails programming framework, is ready to tackle another Rails-related headache — app development itself. The company is starting the public test of a free product called TuneUp that should make it easy for developers to see what’s happening in the application they’re creating, and to get help fixing it.

The need for a tool like FiveRuns’ already-available Manage, which monitors an application’s code while it’s running and helps developers spot and fix problems, is obvious. But with the increasing popularity of the Rails framework and the difficulty in scaling some Rails applications (VentureBeat readers are probably quite familiar with messaging site Twitter’s frequent downtime), there’s also some real competition. For example, I’ve written about a startup called New Relic that was founded Lewis Cirne, who previously founded leading Java performance management company Wily Technology. New Relic raised a $3.5 first round led by Benchmark Capital last month.

FiveRuns executives say they plan to stay competitive in this burgeoning field. For one thing, they note that the company already has 120 paying customers, and they’re improving the core product. The test version of Manage 2.0 is also available today, featuring improvements like a rewritten client that’s now completely Ruby -based and offers more detailed metrics graphs. But the company also hopes to attract new customers with its free offering.

TuneUp sounds like it’s basically a debugger; it creates a window within an in-development application that makes it easy to see useful data that’s normally hidden deep within the log files. Sanderson says it’s the only tool that allows you take a snapshot of a “trace” of an application request, and then upload it so developers can ask for help from their teams, or from the general public. This could lead to a thriving community of supportive developers — who are then tempted to pay for FiveRuns’ management product, natch.

FiveRuns has raised $9.2 million in two rounds.

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