This is the second in a 3-part series.
In my previous post, I covered a couple of free applications. In this installment, I look at two paid text editors, both with strong caveats.
UltraEdit presents another clean, cross-platform option, albeit one that is not free. When I opened the app the first time, it hijacked all .php and .css files and made itself the default application. I prefer a choice in the matter, and although it took seconds to switch back, this was annoying. UltraEdit comes with a 30-day trial, and costs $59.95 for a full license.
You can open multiple files in a tabbed view. Line numbers are on by default, and color-coding manages PHP and HTML side by side. Find and Replace actions are separated via tabs in the Find and Replace window. You can create project workspaces or work with independent documents. If you have the screen real-estate you can display a variety of views, from files to function lists. This tool might be one to grow with and make the transition to an IDE easier. It also has a Windows feel to it, so if you’re making a transition to the Mac from Windows there might be a comfort factor here. I don’t know if UltraEdit stands out enough from the other apps to make me adopt it as a daily tool, but it’s still a strong app to consider.
TextMate‘s strength appears to lie in managing projects, or possibly other development languages like Ruby on Rails, not so much PHP. One very nice feature is that the project window lets you drag and drop a folder into the drawer, and you instantly have access to all the files. Each file you select opens in its own tab.
There are pros and cons with tabbed text editor views. The main advantage is real-estate, as you keep all windows within the application. The disadvantage comes when you want to compare documents side by side. Inside each document the color-coding shows up nicely, along with shaded areas where you can fold the code between matching tags. Line numbers were not apparent in the document, only the footer line. Also, the preferences in TextMate are sparse.
The biggest downside for the new PHP developer is dealing with code completion. In TextMate this requires that you start typing and then press the ESC key. The function still does not fill in the parameters. For example, in_array just codes as red text and contains nothing after the term. Possibly there are ways to enhance this through some additional programming. After seeing other FileMaker developers advocate for this tool, I’ve tried several times to get comfortable using with no success.
You can download a 30-day trial version. The cost for TextMate is $57. I expected something more for the price so I can’t recommend this for PHP development.
In comparing these two paid apps to the free ones in my previous post (TextWrangler and KomodoEdit), both in my opinion fall somewhat short. As I see it, these types of apps should be relatively intuitive, but both UltraEdit and TextMate made me spend time cleaning up, or finding features and ways to use them. In the next post I cover two additional paid apps, both with fewer limitations than these.