REVIEW: SlickEdit 2009 Is Feature-Packed, but Pricey

SlickEdit 2009 packs enough new, productivity-boosting features to tempt developers to reconsider their tool preferences. Convincing the CFO, however, might be another matter.

I've always been the type of programmer who's used two editors: one for quick edits and another for larger-scale work. On Windows, my preference for quick edits has been SciTE, which I regard as a sort of "better than Notepad" editor that does just what I need-syntax highlighting, quick open and close times (that's very important for us impatient programmer types), line numbers, and a good search and replace that includes regular expressions. For bigger work, I turn to full-blown integrated development environments-where I typically tap Visual Studio or Eclipse, depending on the project.
Then along comes SlickEdit 2009, which offers some of the best attributes of these two classes of editor. I've always been happy with my two-worlds approach to text editing, but SlickEdit's mixture of capabilities just might have what it takes to entice me to tool unification.
While SlickEdit is an editor by name, the venerable tool (the release I tested is the product's 14th) has long hovered a bit closer to the IDE end of the spectrum. For instance, where it's common with slimmer editors to drop out of the application to debug or compile from the command line, SlickEdit features such broad language support and support for creating projects that developers of all stripes can do most of their coding and compiling right from within the tool. In fact, with Version 2009, SlickEdit has piled on enough new features, such as a complete debugger for Python, Perl and PHP code, that it can replace your IDE for all practical purposes.
I expect most programmers to come to love SlickEdit 2009 once they try it, but there is one significant downside to SlickEdit 2009: its cost. A single-developer license on Windows or Linux costs $299; on Solaris, it's $399.

This kind of pricing is clearly intended for businesses and corporations that determine there's a cost savings to using the product, and there's certainly an argument to be made that productivity will increase with an editor like this. However, the availability of free options such as Eclipse and the express versions of Visual Studio might make it tough for programmers to convince their CFOs that the gain will be significant enough to justify the cost. That debate could be tougher still in shops that have already invested in costly Visual Studio enterprise licenses.