In this article, I will review my experience with ActiveState's Komodo 1.1 IDE for programmers.

Quick Links

ActiveState's Komodo Page

Downloading

Downloading the Komodo installer (.msi) was an uneventful experience. At approximately 17.8 MB, it was a relatively quick download

over my T1 connection. Installing was a breeze on my platform (Windows 98). Komodo is also available for *nix platforms.

It is worthwhile to note that the Windows installer is in (.msi) format, so you will need a relatively updated version of Windows to run it.

If you have installed any of the latest Microsoft programs (like say Office 2000), then you already have the updated installer. A good way to check if you have the installer is to run msiexec (from Start Menu -- Run).

If you have the correct version, it will display a pop-up box stating that you used incorrect parameters. This is a few times that incorrect parameters is a good thing.

Install

Anyhow, onto the install. Intelligently enough, the program told me which one of my running programs were using files that it updates during its install process

and paused while I shut them down. In my case, it was Winamp and my bandwidth meter.

One caveat is that the install also unpackages a customized version of Mozilla -- this is the only step that takes

a nice minute or so.

After the install, like all good programs, it asked if I wanted to restart my computer now or later.

After a quick restart (tip : on Windows 9x machines, you can restart Windows only if you hold down the left shift key while hitting enter or OK on the restart option in the shutdown dialog box),

there was the Komodo icon on my desktop.



UPDATE :

On some installations, the Microsoft Installer may be available, but because of some registry quirk, you may not be able to run the installer by double clicking it. In this case, you can use the following syntax :

MSIEXEC /i drive:\path\to\file\Komodo-1.1.2-23917.msi

Your filename may be different

First Run

When you first download the program, ActiveState asks for your email address, to which it emails your randomly generated license patch (a small executable that you download from their site). Once you have installed Komodo, you will have to download and run the licensing patch in order to run Komodo. Since the program is free for non-commercial/education use, this is a small step towards unlocking the program. Beats paying Micro$oft.

With my machine (128 RAM, 800MHz), it took a little while for the IDE to fire up, letting me to believe that the 'zilla integration is to blame. After the start, however, the program ran smooth as silk.

The interface is uncluttered, and it provides a good management option for related project files.

I would recommend that you open the sample project to take a look at its unique features.

Speaking of features, one of the most interesting (and well thought of) features in the program is the ability to

expand and collapse sections of your program between the { }. This is an excellent feature that keeps you from "scroll searching"

for a particular section in your program. Just outside the left margin, you will find a minus sign (signifying that the { block is open).

Upon clicking it, it will change it to the + sign, and your code within the { } will be hidden. It is the neatest thing to try.

Another feature along the same lines is that the program draws vertical dashed lines between the beginning and ending { } symbols.

Good way to keep track of your loops and other control structures.

Another good feature of this program -- and one that I really liked was while in PHP mode, the program will check with

the PHP interpreter for syntax errors, and just like in MS Office, it will "squigglize" syntax errors (put that red squiggly underline).

This is one of those things that you wonder why no one else thought of. This features requires an updated PHP install (4.0.x), with

the php.exe file's location in the PATH. However, there is a configuration option that allows you to manually set the location

of your PHP interpreter.

Another feature (and no, I am not affiliated with ActiveState or being payed by them) is the regular expression wizard and library.

You can activate it by click on the oh-so-cute Rx icon. Another one of those "well why didn't they think of this before"

features in the program. With these and a graphical imbedded debugger, Komodo will make you wonder how you could live without it.

A few limitations

The program currently only supports PHP, Perl, XML, XSL, TCL, and JavaScript languages. Sorry, no HTML. It was kinda sluggish

on my 800MHz box (but I attribute that to the 128MB RAM). I would recommend atleast 256 MB RAM, with no less than 800Mhz box.

Basically, anything that you bought recently will work fine. Other than that, and the slow load time, I would recommend

that you atleast try it out for yourself. Hey, did I forget to mention that it was FREE?



Although the program documentation does not state any nifty HTML support, the IDE does support syntax highlighting for the following languages :


Like -- all I can say is -- wow.

Anyone else have experiences with Komodo? Let me know by replying to this article.