SlickEdit v11

During the day I work on a Linux desktop, at home I use OS X. The main language that I develop in these days is PHP, however I also work in other languages as well as XHTML, CSS and JavaScript and I’m always keen to try out code editors, especially those which promise to support multiple platforms. So I was really happy to try out SlickEdit v11 which indicates on its website that it is a,

“… multi-platform, multi-language code editor that enables power programmers to create, navigate, modify, and debug code faster and more accurately.

Sounds good! As I’m at home I install SlickEdit on my G4 Mac Mini, on opening the CD I’m impressed to see the large number of supported platforms. That is definitely a plus in my opinion as it’s great to be able to use the same code editor no matter which box I’m sat in front of. On running the installer however I am disappointed to find that the software isn’t a native OS X application and will need to run under X11. This means that it can’t take advantage of inbuilt features of the OS and, to be honest, isn’t the most attractive application to use. Given that I didn’t want to judge the product on looks alone I also installed it onto Windows XP, where it looks far more at home.

As a coding editor SlickEdit has the usual features one would expect from any professional environment – code completion, syntax highlighting and so on. There are also some features that, once you got used to using them, could really speed up development. The Syntax Expansion – expanding block structures such as if, for and so on when you start to type – and ‘Surround With’ which will wrap a selection with a structure, works well, and you can define additional structures to those supported out of the box.

I particularly like the concept of ‘Backup History’, this isn’t a replacement for proper version control but instead, a feature which saves a backup of your file when it is saved and allows you to compare versions. This creates a backup of files that aren’t ready to be checked into your main version control – and you can compare versions – I can see this being a handy tool for many developers.

I think the best feature of SlickEdit is the ability to customise it, to shape the application to fit your own way of working. If you are a developer who is going to use this product as your primary development environment and is able to invest the time to learn it and to customise it to your needs, it looks to be a good choice, and certainly one worth looking at.

This customizability however, comes with the downside that the application is at first use quite difficult to get into and use. This was a difficult review to write as there is no way I can do justice to the product in a few words and after having spent a short while looking at it. However, the tool is designed for the professional developer, and so having some barrier to entry in the requirement to learn the environment shouldn’t be a problem given the features available once you are comfortable in using it. Also, there’s a dedicated community available to help with product questions.

If you are looking for a highly customizable development environment, or need solid support for a large number of languages in one editor then SlickEdit may well be worth a try. However if you just need a simple code editor, or are the sort of person who tends not to use many features in a development environment, then you might find that it is more complex than your needs dictate.

  • Software Name: SlickEdit v11
  • Maker: SlickEdit Inc.
  • URL: http://www.slickedit.com
  • Price: from $284 USD for a named user license
  • Rating out of 5: 4 (for the professional developer willing to invest time into learning the environment, however lack of native OS X support – especially given the cost of the product – would lose this a point for Mac users)


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Comments

0 comments on “SlickEdit v11


  1. I particularly like the concept of ‘Backup History’

    This is a native eclipse feature, like most of the features on slickEdit site. There is some rather good PHP/XHTML/CSS/JS plugins for eclipse out there. Why should one buy SlickEdit instead of using free, opensource, strongly supported and multiplatform tools ?

  2. @ sylvain – thanks for letting people know that this feature is available in Eclipse. It has been a while since I looked at Eclipse – I use Zend Studio day to day. As to why people pay for an editor instead of using a free product I’m sure there are many reasons. Zend Studio is commercial and the reason I pay for it rather than use Eclipse or other editors is that, for PHP, I have found I’m most productive using it. So it is worth the price. Sometimes just one or two features can make all the difference, simply because they suit the way you work – and if those features save you 10 minutes a day they pay for the software soon enough.

  3. I used UltraEdit a lot when I was using Windows. Since switching to Linux (Ubuntu) I’ve tried several editors, and found that my favorite is cross-platform, I could have been using it all along! jEdit has been wonderful to work with, and with its plugin system provides the functions I was looking for in other editors. Of course, editor preferences vary a great deal among coders. Find what works best for you and your needs.

  4. After reading this review, I did some research and came across what looks like a similar but much better alternative for myself; Activestate Komodo. At least, on the surface, it is a much more appealing product that seems easy enough to learn. SlickEdit, on the other hand, looks like it is way too complicated to learn if the point is to see if the program is right for me.

  5. I work with several people who swear by SlickEdit (they’re mostly Windows and embedded Linux developers who work with C and C++). I tried SlickEdit for a while and found it to be overwhelming and too expensive for my tastes.

    jedit, however, is an editor I’ve enjoyed using for the past few months that I would describe as “SlickEdit-lite.” It’s cross-platform free software (open source) and has a very diverse set of plugins you can enable to customize it and add features for various languages. I’ve used it when developing with C, Ruby, PHP, HTML, Javascript, and CSS.

    Multi-pane editing is one thing that’s really nice about SlickEdit and jedit. I wish TextMate had it too.

  6. I use SCiTE — free, lightweight, loads fast.

    Multi-buffer; predefined, customizable, and user created syntax highlighting; code and word completion; user-definable snippets; etc etc.

  7. PSPad is by far the most efficient and cost-effective text editor i’ve used recently. It’s freeware, reliable and great for PHP & CSS coding. It doesn’t offer some of the advanced features discussed here, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the most appropriate.

  8. I’ve been searching for a great cross-platform editor for quite some time. I was always fond of SciTE but found Notepad++ and PSPad to be good lite-weight Windows editors with useful built-in tools for web editing. Going back to Linux I began using scite-tools to further extend SciTE making it a bit more like textmate. Scite-tools seemed promising but after reading efficient editing in vim and noticing that I’m coding more on my laptop I forced myself to learn more vim commands. Thanks to gvim and a few plugins (aedit, rdark, surround, [nerdtree, snippetsemu]) it’s been about a month of happy vimming.

  9. okay, this quote is stolen from their own promo site:
    “Calling SlickEdit an editor is like calling the F-16 a single-seat airplane.” -Mac Stevens, SlickEdit user since 2003
    Still, I think this is entirely accurate.It takes some time to learn to fly this one, but it flies higher and faster than any of the others.
    BUT I do admit, this depends very much on the language you work in. I’m talking c++ now. Your mileage may vary especially if there’sother good tools, like Eclipse for Java, Zend for PHP, or any powerful text editor for some of the other languages.

    To answer sylvain’s question — why buy if there’s free tools — well, the standard editor for eclipse/CDT (the c++ environment for Eclipse) sucks big time. Its basic code analysis is just plain broken. Everything that you love about Java support in Eclipse, well, it’s just not there for c++. Jump to function definition? Forget it. Show all references for this symbol? Nope. Calculate through the state of all #defines at a given point ? Nope.
    SlickEdit has about THE best code analysis and refactoring support for c++ on the planet. Even better than Visual Studio 2005, which does have very good c++ “Intellisense” .
    Problem is with c++, for anumber reasons, it’s just much much more difficult to get your code analysis and “intelligent autocomplete” etc working for c++ than for, say, java.
    Basically, you have to almost fully interpret the code.
    Anyway – It costs – but this plus the Eclipse debugger makes for a good c++ alternative to Visual Studio, especially for cross-platform developers.

  10. A while ago I investigated quite a few different code editors (C/C++) and SlickEdit came out on top. AFAIR the finalists were UltraEdit, SlickEdit, Programmer Studio, and Zeus.

    SlickEdit beat them all in every aspect except Programmer Studio’s “Remote project”, where you can edit, compile, run and debug applications on a remote server. This is the coolest thing I have ever seen and I have been trying to get SlickEdit to implement it.

    The two features that sold me on SlickEdit are:

    1.- I write code all day, every day. I like to keep my fingers on the keyboard and type. This is such a boost to productivity, and SlickEdit is fantastically good at it. But it takes a little time to get used to the shortcuts.

    2.- Code browsing/searching is unsurpassed as far as I am concerned. SlickEdit preparses you development environment, not just you file includes, so you can search for functions in includes you haven’t included yet!

    Over time I have learnt other things as well, but that will happen with any tool you use, these 2 really stick out for me.

    An

  11. The idea of creating a useful documentation for such projects is quite good, but should not permit to forget that you should also create a technical documentation, referring to all the classes, functions, etc..