Editors Expand Coders Tool Kits

Visual SlickEdit offers additional choices; Source Insight is more intuitive.

New models of application development—including server-side code, distributed Web services, and deployment of workplace functions to handheld and embedded devices—have programmers clamoring for more code analysis and process integration capabilities in their old reliable tool, the text editor.

Visual SlickEdit 8.0

SlickEdits Visual SlickEdit 8.0 gives developers cross-platform source code editing, with commendable consideration for well- conditioned habits formed by other editing tools and with an easy path to integration with tool sets such as Microsofts Visual Studio and Borlands JBuilder. More information is available at www.slickedit.com.
















PRO: Available on Windows and many varieties of Unix; preconfigured for emulation of many popular editors; easily operates as adjunct to external tool sets; suitable for re-engineering of code from many sources.

CON: Emulations leave room for improvement; code readability aids limited to color and indentation.

• Microsofts Visual Studio
• Borlands JBuilder • Mansfield Software Group Inc.s KEdit

Thats why eWEEK Labs, fresh from the latest update to the most widely used integrated programming environment—Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio .Net 2003, which we reviewed last week—turned its attention to this springs updates of two high-function programmers editors, Source Dynamics Inc.s Source Insight 3.5 and SlickEdit Inc.s Visual SlickEdit 8.0.

Visual development environments (Visual Studio .Net, in particular) arent the GUI workbench lightweights that they used to be. Theyre adding low-level substance as well as high-level style to their graphical renditions of application structure and function. At some point, however, the machine wants to read actual code—and programmers want the control that comes from writing it themselves.

When a manager asks why a team should buy a separate source code editor when integrated environments already include one, someone needs to do the math: Each of the editors reviewed here costs about as much as 5 hours of developer time.

Both Source Insight and Visual SlickEdit have the industrial strength to handle just about anything a developer might throw at them. For example, each was able to open and display a multimegabyte XML schema file in a few seconds compared with the better part of a minute for Visual Studio .Net.

The payback from minutes saved, over periods of several months, is clear if perhaps not compelling; the benefits to a programmers concentration are more subjective but likely to be even more significant.

When we last looked at Visual SlickEdit, Version 5.0 earned Analysts Choice honors for its across-the-board superiority. Despite substantial improvements since then, we now find our favor divided more evenly. This time, well leave the choice to individual tastes.

For example, if your personal preference inclines toward choice in all things, Visual SlickEdit takes an immediate lead. The product is offered and maintained for agile platform crossing on Windows (98 or later), Linux (on x86 or IBMs zSeries mainframe systems), Solaris on SPARC, and other Unix platforms from Hewlett-Packard Co. and others.

Prices vary with platform and packaging but begin at $269 for the purchased Windows download. Source Insight is offered at $250 for Windows 98 and later, period. (We reviewed both products on a Windows 2000 machine.)

Visual SlickEdits emphasis on choice continued when we entered the editing environment, where a plethora of tabbed panes (see screen) gave us immediate access to various views of our file systems (both local and, via the integrated FTP client, remote) and our work in progress (with raw search, source code symbols or internal program references).