Recent Tech Review Comments

Well, it’s been a cool few weeks lately. Safari has come out on Windows (posting from it now… minus TinyMCE of course) and it is indeed compact, fast-loading into memory and fast-loading of the page, but has some issues:

  • Most importantly for the moment, it crashes occasionally. I haven’t pinpointed any specific causes for this, at least yet.
  • No Google Suggest
  • Back button keyboard shortcut is awkwardly assigned to “Ctrl + [“, perhaps the worst shortcut in history. Non-user-configurable. (it does appear Alt + arrows works, if intermittantly
  • No decent shortcut for switching tabs!

Keep an eye on it, though. With the iPhone running Safari now, and with iTunes [mostly] whole-heartedly embraced by the masses, it’s only a matter of time before Apple apps see more facetime on Windows.

More tech news after the jump.

Got the wife a new cheapo (sub-$500) HP (*cough cough* Compaq) laptop running Vista Home Basic. Discovered Basic does not, out of the box, come equipped with a codec for DVDs, which is one of the stupidest fucking moves ever. Luckily HP pre-installs their own DVD software on top of it and all is well with the world. So far, she’s been pretty lucky and hasn’t had any snags with major crashes, though it has already locked up on her once.

Discovered jEdit. This cross-platform, lightweight Java-based editor can do almost everything TextMate (which is Mac-only) can do and more, when it comes to Ruby and Rails. The plugin system is also quick and light, and can accomplish most tasks you’d want to handle (like project management) and more (like IRC and an RSS feed reader?!) though it is suspiciously lacking SVN support. (CVS and Visual SourceSafe are represented, to be sure) PHP highlighting is ok but there’s no code completion and it even lacks automatic delimiters (“”, {}, [], (), etc) which TextMate of course has, in PHP mode.

The Ruby plugin for jEdit is massively feature-packed: Snippets a la TextMate, actual old school code completion, (which TextMate lacks) and on-the-fly RDoc lookup (which TM also lacks) as code completion is in progress. What more could you want? Well it also does automatic delimiters and using macros you can simulate any keyboard-shortcut-induced features of TextMate. (my most-frequently used one in TextMate is Ctrl + Alt + Shift + W to wrap all selected lines with <li> tags, which took all of 4 lines of BeanShell code. (BeanShell is a simplified, interpreted Java derivative with full access to most base Java classes and with a WELL-documented set of objects, documentation which comes in the box with jEdit. If only EclipseMonkey were so well-defined… *cough*)

The only thing jEdit doesn’t have that I really would miss from TextMate is completion of any word previously-entered into the current document. In TM this is accomplished by hitting Esc after one or two characters or so of a word have been typed. In Scribes this is accomplished through Ctrl + Space fashion. (Scribes, which can only do word-completion on words where three characters or more have been typed already, has no proper code-completion, as it’s more bare-bones like TM)

All in all an excellent choice for any programmer, particularly Rails developers. You can assign shortcuts for external commands like compilers or browsers, and it’s almost infinitely extensible through macros. The only other issue I’ve had so far is with the XML plugin, which annoyingly pops a dialog any time you select a tag name from a dropdown using code-completion. I’ve been unable to find a way to disable or circumvent the dialog box, which I find quite unnecessary. Other than that, zero crashes on either Windows or Mac. (have yet to try on Ubuntu, but that might be nice not having to load Eclipse [it’s sloooow])

Earlier today Mylar/Mylyn would not stop crapping out my Eclipse session. A dialog kept popping asking for me to submit my user data to the project, which I tried obliging, ignoring, etc to no avail, there was an inifinite loop in there somewhere. I had to manually remove the .jar files for the plugin from the install before Eclipse stopped getting stuck on that dialog. Bah! Hopefully a fresh install won’t have this problem. (still have to get Trac or Bugzilla working with Mylyn to test out the basic task list, and hammer the Aptana folks to implement some of the features that will make Mylyn task-based contextual masking of project files work beautifully and without user intervention!)

Lastly, I’ve discovered (Scratch that. Reread and finally tried out) RadRails’ snippet-handling functionality, if ever-so-briefly. My Eclipse on Windows was very out of date so I had to restart a few times after adding one plugin after another. (Aptana just released an iPhone plug, could be useful!) Essentially it looks to operate TextMate-style, only it’s only available in RadRails editors, not any other. (like PHP Eclipse, for instance) Like Scribes, it’s triggered by Ctrl + Space entry, so it’s apparently wrapped around the normal code-completion features of Eclipse. Seems to work real well, and tabbing/shift-tabbing through fields works a treat. Will look into this more later, as I do love Eclipse.

Anyone who knows how to get the “complete any word” functionality out of jEdit (or Eclipse/RadRails!) let me know! Also, anyone who discovers full-on documentation of the Eclipse DOM somewheres for Eclipse Monkey, let me know about that too!

One Comment

  1. Posted December 19, 2007 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Wanted to follow up on the jEdit usability: “complete any word” is available using TextAutocomplete plugin. Works automatically and is very cool. Closer to code completion in a regular IDE, though, as it gives you a drop-down of options.

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