In search of the perfect coding environment: the search continues

Published March 25th, 2008

About a year ago I posted about my search for a replacement for TextPad. Since then, a new version has finally been released but for me it’s too little (the new features are hard to find, and still don’t match even my limited wish-list), too late.

After a dalliance with jEdit, I decided that I wanted an editor that would fit in with my ongoing quest to use only portable applications. For quite a while I stuck with Notepad++, which is an excellent all-rounder with plenty of great features. But as has so often been the case in the past, it just didn’t quite feel right, so then I moved on to PSPad, which I had tried for an extended period a while ago. Again I stuck with it for a while but some little niggles (mainly unexplained crashes) prevented me from falling in love with it.

Yesterday I came across an article on ArsTechnica that introduced me to Komodo Edit, an open-source (‘community’) version of the popular Komodo IDE from ActiveState. I did in fact try — and like — Komodo some years ago but I was never able to justify shelling out for it. But this free version fits quite neatly with my requirements: it’s stable and simple, but extensible (it’s built on the Mozilla platform so if you’ve used Firefox or Thunderbird then you’ll find the add-on management rather familiar). There’s a simple code explorer add-on which meets my basic needs and I’ve also installed the TODO Helper extension to help me keep track of all those FIXME notes I’ve left dotted around our codebase.

It’s not portable by default, but with a little tweaking (thanks to this forum thread) I was able to get it to run quite happily from a USB key. And I have to admit that I’m already getting used to the code-completion (which I rely on quite heavily when writing C#, but was never really bothered about in PHP) and the search feature in the project tab, which helps find class files quickly. Check out the full feature list for more on its capabilities.

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