Komodo IDE 8 Review – A Blatant Money Grab
I am a big fan of Komodo IDE. I’ve been using it since version 3 way back in 2006 and I still use it now 7 years later. Besides using it for Perl debug, I also use it as a general text editor because the VI keybindings make document navigation easy, the places feature simplifies file navigation, and syntax highlighting can be applied to arbitrary files.
I am not a Komodo fanboi, I think Visual Studio is the gold standard among IDEs. Unlike the free version of Komodo IDE – Komodo Edit, the free Visual Studio Express editions come with a debugger. The IntelliSense feature allows for quick parameter selection and easy navigation of large projects, and the syntax highlighting is equivalent to or better than Komodo. Visual Studio is the best editor for those that can develop in their language of choice.
In the Perl IDE space, there is also EPIC – the Eclipse Perl Integration. I played around with it and with the Vrapper plugin it seems to satisfy basic Perl debug. It is a little slow due to the need to run the Eclipse engine and getting Eclipse to recognize arbitrary file extensions is a pain.
So with all that said and despite ActiveState’s proclamation that Komodo ‘Revolutionizes Developer User Experience with Komodo IDE 8.0‘, I have to call Komodo IDE 8 the ‘So What?‘ release.
Lets look at their big revolutionary features:
New User Interface – Every new software release has a New User Interface and the general trend of software has been towards minimalism. Look at Visual Studio 2012, that interface is new. Nothing new here.
Floating Side Panes – Yup, very revolutionary. Been there in every other IDE like Visual Studio and Eclipse since way back.
Minimap – Cool, a top level view of the code on the right. Except that the font is unreadable, function headers and variables don’t pop-out to make navigation easy, and zooming in and out is inconvenient. Oh and in Komodo IDE 7 you can easily get the same view with Ctrl+Scroll Down and then go to any part of the code by hovering your mouse over it and doing Ctrl+Scroll Up.
Open Files Side Pane – Great I can sort files by file type. I have this option in Windows Explorer. Since Windows 95. Please. Don’t want to alt-tab into another window? Seriously – do you even develop?
Retina Display Support – Doesn’t help me. Most of my time is spent in a Windows or UNIX machine debugging Perl and not admiring the resolution of the icons on the task bar.
What irks me is that they haven’t fixed anything else or in parts I use: opening and editing over a network is still slow and often locks the entire editor; switching to Komodo with a network file open freezes the editor; there is no variable drop-down a-la Visual Studio or even EPIC; I can’t search in the recent files box; Can’t save a file over another open file; random “this script is taking too long” messages keep popping up. There is even a file that crashes IDE 8 when I apply Ruby syntax highlighting but works fine in IDE 7. These are features that should just work in a IDE that costs money. I do not believe that I’m the only one that is annoyed by these shortcomings.
Ultimately there is no new compelling features for me in Komodo IDE 8 that make it a compelling upgrade. EPIC is free, highly capable and and has many of the features in Komodo. Komodo IDE 7 was just released last year and asking for $136 another year later is a purely blatant money grab.