design for budgets
Komodo - my favorite editor
I've spent the last six months searching out the best development environment for coding in PHP, specifically with work related to the Drupal content management framework.
Screenshot of Komodo Edit, decked out in my custom color scheme: charcoal rainbow
Years ago I used to use the freeware program HTML-Kit, and I remember being impressed with the built-in FTP support. But for some reason I stopped using it, and went back to plain old Notepad. I think this mostly had to do with the fact I was working a lot via Terminal Services on servers on which I didn't want to install software. So the lowest common denominator, Notepad, became the habit.
(A new version of HTML-Kit was recently released, but, for reasons that should become apparent below, I haven't taken a look at it.)
In 2006, I began working closely with a designer at my job for the Idaho Commission for Libraries and he turned me on to Programmer's Notepad. My respect for this program quickly grew as I realized I could add in "tools" (which basically are command line calls - so, for instance, I could open the command line at My Documents or htdocs via a keyboard shortcut, or zero in on a function's documentation at php.net with minimal effort). I also became enamored with the ability to tweak the color scheme applied to my code. I could have light text on a charcoal colored background! Sweet.
Still, I flirted with other development environments - specifically Eclipse. I liked its PHP support through the PDT project (you can download an all-in-one Eclipse and PDT package, courtesy of the folks at Zend), and I appreciated how intuitively configurable Eclipses' interface was - though in the end the program was almost too interface-heavy. I came to have the feeling that I could spend my time learning to leverage Eclipse, and re-arranging the deck-chairs, or I could spend it improving my coding skills... The latter won out, as it should, and I went back to Programmer's Notepad.
In February the great folks at Lullabot did a podcast on tools for Drupal development. They mentioned tools I'd used, some that I envied but not being on a Mac, I couldn't use, like Textmate, and they mentioned a tool called Komodo. It wasn't cheap at approx. $300. Because I'd recently had a large expenditure on pro-grade graphics software, I wasn't about to let myself consider a purchase of this magnitude for awhile, so I purposefully avoided looking at any trial versions of the software.
But a few months back, ActiveState, the company that produces the Komodo IDE, released Komodo Edit, a lighter-weight, feature-disabled version of the main program, for free. And though it doesn't have all the features of the full IDE (such as step-through debugging, support for CVS and SVN code versioning and a visual regex tool), it's become my favorite editor, and meets almost all of my desired features:
- brace matching
- code folding
- php auto-completion, tips and parsing
- color scheming (with great granularity)
- the ability to add in tools
- ftp/sftp/scp support
- find-in-files searching
- runs on Linux and/or Mac (since my days on Windows are numbered)
- and PHP debugging
Plus it provides macro recording which has proven somewhat helpful. You can even get language files for PHP that are supplemented with Drupal functions - so that means auto-completion and tips for Drupal functions!
To be fair, Programmer's Notepad boots much faster and provides quite a few of these features, but not all - and those that it doesn't are deal-breakers - like Drupal auto-completion and PHP parsing.
All the tools I've mentioned are great. They come with my recommendation. But one has to win out, and for my needs that's Komodo.
I really like Komodo Edit. The Edit version doesn't provide a debugger, true. Really, that's the only feature I'm missing... and _that's_ why I'm saving up my money for the full-featured IDE.
Update: I've attached a copy of the color scheme I put together for Komodo. Anyone who wants to use it should be able to download the zip and extract the file into their Komodo schemes folder (on my system it's C:\Documents and Settings\myUsername\Application Data\ActiveState\KomodoEdit\4.0\schemes\). The scheme has got it's quirks, but works well for me overall. It uses the Monaco font popularized by the Textmate editor for the Mac.