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 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.

charcoal-rainbow.zip1.45 KB

Komodo's Next On My List!

I've been using Programmer's Notepad for the small bits of coding that I do, but I hadn't heard of Komodo Edit. I'll definitely have to give it a try.

I dig your custom color scheme. Way to spruce up the coding environment!

Scheme posted

I've posted a copy of my Komodo scheme file above and added instructions on how to use it.

If give it a try, let me know if you have any issues, or feedback!

michael, like yourself, i


like yourself, i scoured the internet for an editor that suited my needs (php, python, javascript, etc) and was glad i tried Komodo. i don't use anything else now. i was wondering if you could point me to the link of your Komodo color scheme file? (or e-mail works too) i love how it looks and would like to give it a try =) thanks.

My apologies!

Hi Manny,

Sorry about that! Oversight on my part. I'd neglected to grant anyone but me access rights to download the attachment.

It's now available, above, under the "Attachment" heading.

You'll have to let me know how it works for you. I don't recall putting much (if any) time into tweaking the python and and javascript portions of the scheme, but if you take your cue (and the pallet) from the php, you could get them in sync.

And like I said in the post above, I recommend using it with a copy of the Monaco font (link above). Unfortunately, that leads to a little clipping to the top line of calltips, but I can live with that. If anyone finds a solution to that, I'd love to hear it.

Charcoal Rainbow on Vista

If somebody is running Komodo Edit 4.1 on Vista, the path to the schemes folder is a little bit different than XP: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\ActiveState\KomodoEdit\4.1\schemes. Also, the hidden files and folders will need to be set to be shown as well.

Charcoal Rainbow on the Mac


I hate to beat you to this, but here is how you use your Charcoal Rainbow theme on the Mac:

  • Open up the Finder
  • On your profile, open Library >> Application Support >> Komodo Edit >> (Version Number)>>Schemes
  • Paste the Charcoal Rainbow.ksf file into this folder
  • The scheme is now available in the Fonts and Colors Preferences


Thank you!

Komodo Edit improvements

I happened across this post again as it is linked to from here:

Some changes since the version you posted about here:

- you no longer need the replacement PHP language files to get Drupal autocomplete, this now happens automagically if your project contains either the Drupal tree or a reference to it.

- Komodo Edit 4.2 ( currently in beta ) includes some nice new editor features including brace and quote completion.

- if you really want textmate style snippet insertion, you should check out my 'Trigger' macro:

HTH, JeffG ( ActiveState )

Thanks JeffG

Thanks for the updates!

I've played with the Drupal automagic complete on another machine that I'm running 4.2 on and it _is_ like magic, parsing the doxygen comments and everything.

I'll have to check out the trigger.

(My birthday's this week, and my wife's talking about how hard it is to pick a present for me. I keep telling her, "Komodo IDE ... Komodo IDE," but I think she doesn't want to be that much of an enabler... :) Last thing she said was, "Maybe I'll just give you some money," so you know what I'm thinking...)

By the way, thought I'd mention how much I love the Komodo IDE license. As someone who's planning on making the switch to Mac sometime in the next 12 months, that's a very attractive license.


I did acquire myself a copy.

I did acquire myself a copy. :)

What is the font-type in your scheme

Hi bro i really like this scheme what is the scheme fonttype..? And i have komodo ide but its not working fine for me the typing speed is slow and it often gets stuck when am writing fast .. do you have some suggestions ... what editor you are using now days i tried fews but found only java based editors feature rich else theres only komodo with that much features but i am having dificulty with the typing speed thing else it is fine.. Do you know any other komodo like editor non java i mean with the same or more features??

Hi Ali, The font I use with

Hi Ali,

The font I use with the Charcoal Rainbow scheme is Monaco. There's a link to where you can download it at the end of the post above, in the "update" section.

I'm still using Komodo IDE and haven't experienced the slow typing issues you mention. I use Komodo mostly on Linux (Kubuntu) and OS X and it seems to run faster on those than it does on Windows XP.

If you're on Windows and want a quick (to load, and run) editor, Programmer's Notepad ( is still one of my favorites - and includes many of the features found in Komodo, though not all. And it's free.

Thanks for this - much nicer

Thanks for this - much nicer than the standard colour scheeme!

On Linux

On Linux you can drop the file into your schemes directory located at:


if you used the default installation directories that the installer provided for you.



The scheme is gorgeous and

The scheme is gorgeous and better than any default in komodo, thanks!

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