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Komodo 1.2 Review

by trs80 (Priest)
on Jan 27, 2002 at 07:54 UTC ( #141876=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I didn't see a product review section so I am posting it in Meditations.

Editor Reviewed




OS's Tested on

Windows 2000 and Mandrake 8.1




ActiveState License


Varies depending on your needs between FREE and ~$500


ActiveState has been working hard to make Perl easier to use on Win32 and provide powerful development tools like the PDK (Perl Dev Kit), their Komodo product is no different. Komodo is a GUI Perl IDE, based on the Mozilla engine, developed with Perl related tools like a RegEx Toolkit. It is available for Linux and Win32 OS's. Komodo 1.2 brings a plethora of bug fixes and greatly improves use ability on Linux. Komodo has a long feature set that is comparable with other IDEs on the market. What sets Komodo apart is that it was designed with Perl development in mind from the beginning rather then an after thought. Plus it has a corporation devoted to scripting languages backing it.
Komodo 1.2 is available from $29.50 to $500 depending on your requirements. There is a 21 day trial license that is free. Komodo 1.1 (Windows only) is available for free as well.
Is it worth it? Well I will leave that up to the individual. My observations on Komodo follow the feature list.


(Feature list copied from ActiveState site)
Multi-language editor
  • Multi-language support - Support for over 24 languages, including Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, Tcl, XML, XSLT, and numerous others
  • Multi-document editing - Convenient interface allows work on multiple documents simultaneously, including cross-document search
  • Syntax-checking and coloring - Provides instant feedback that makes it easier to quickly write correct code
  • Programmers' editing features - Code commenting, indent/outdent, block selection, and more
  • Code-folding - Work quickly and efficiently with large sections of code
  • AutoCompletion and CallTips - Write code faster and shorten the learning curve with features that guide you as you work
  • Run command - Add your custom actions to the menu
  • Fully customizable - Flexible, easy-to-configure options so Komodo works the way you do
Graphical Debugger
  • XSLT debugging - Cutting-edge debugging technology takes the pain out of XSLT by making it simple to find problems in both input data and code. Also features real-time output view with HTML preview
  • Standard debugging features - Breakpoints, stepping, watched variables, call stack, and more
  • Remote debugging (Perl, PHP, Python, and Tcl) - Debug programs running in other processes on the same machine or remotely. Useful for debugging CGI programs in a live Web server setting, and for client/server systems
  • Full environment control - Emulate a CGI environment while debugging on your local machine
  • Tutorials - Easily master debugging features
Regular Expression (Rx) Toolkit
  • Visual interface - Komodo offers a unique, visual interface for almost effortless building and debugging of powerful regular expressions
  • Debugging features - Provides easy evaluation to ensure the correct pattern is being matched
  • Node tips, node higlighting and shortcut menus - Make creating regular expressions less painful
  • Rx Cookbook - Single-click access to ASPN's living collection of Rx code, comments and ratings
Programmer Resources
  • Sample projects - Examples and sample files illustrate Komodo's functionality
  • Tutorials - Learn about new languages and language-specific features
  • ASPN integration - Single-click access to centralized repositories of solutions for Perl, PHP, Python, Tcl, and XSLT
  • XSLT Cookbook - Collaborative access to code, comments and ratings for XSLT recipes
Web Services Support
  • Use and manage Web services - Bookmark management, automatic creation of Web services documentation, AutoCompletion and CallTips for Web services objects in code
  • Consume Web services - Support for Perl, PHP, and Python
Templates & Macros
  • Code faster - Language-specific templates and custom template creation, and embeddable macros for date and time stamps
Komodo 1.2 was built off the Mozilla 0.9.5 branch as of 16 October 2001. Mozilla patches for each

My Observations

  • Slow to load
  • Slow to switch from tasks
  • Annoying indenting ( it doesn't always use spaces instead of tabs even when the option is set in perferences)
  • Internal GUI Debugger doesn't always run correctly if some modules are replaced with newer ones. This can be corrected, but it isn't immediately apparent and could be avoided in the install process.
  • In Linux the default font settings are hard to read at high resolutions (1024 x 768)+
  • The default font style is variable width, this is the only editor I have ever seen do that.
  • You have to set a break point when you run a program for debugging or it just runs through the entire program. The debugger that comes with the PDK by default stops at the opening point of the program, now I realize this is because it is not an editor, but I see no way to get the same behavior inside of Komodo so the two debuggers have the same default behavior.
  • FTP is the only option for remote save on servers. I would like to see scp or other secure transfer methods.
  • A lot of screen real estate is eaten up by large toolbar icons, this can overcome by changing the settings under preferences/appearance to not show text under the icons, this will give you smaller icons as well.
  • The RegEx tool is cool, but the default font is too large and again takes up a lot of screen real estate. I tested this application under 1280 x 1024 I can only imagine what would happen at 800 x 600.
  • On my system the right click 'broke' at some point under windows and I couldn't get my menus.
  • Find and replace is a little quirky and I can't be anymore specific because I can't get the behavior to be consistent.
  • Lack of a text area search and replace. I got spoiled using HomeSite, it has a really good text area search and replace that can come in handy when cleaning up redundancies across files.
  • RegEx tool. This is a very cool feature and it works well for all my simple regex needs.
  • Syntax highlighting is good by default and you have full control over it in the preferences for each language supported.
  • The debugger is better then the external debugger sold with the PDK in my opinion because it gives you a list of variables and there values in an easier to manipulate and view manner. The values also remain in scope with the program so you can see the value unlike the PDK debugger. (Do they share any code?)
  • Project system is easy to use; you simply drag the file from the files list into the project window (if you have the project pane viewable that is).
  • Ability to open and save files remotely. See negatives for a gripe however.
  • Remote Debugger.
  • Good Help system and links to external resources on the Internet.
  • Support for syntax highlighting for multiple languages.
  • Keyboard accessible '(Un)Comment Region'
  • User contributed Cookbooks for different languages. It looks like a great idea, but there are only 27 Recipes in the RxCookbook currently, which is about the same as 6 months ago. (Must be everyone is posting to Perl Monks instead)
  • Access to the Bug Database.

Final Thoughts:

Komodo is moving in the right direction and provides a good IDE, but still has some first generation issues. If you want to use the same GUI editor in Linux and Windows or are a development shop doing large project based application or you want|need an IDE backed by a corporation then Komodo is the way to go. If you are doing smaller scripting tasks and want something quick then Komodo most likely isn't for you.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Komodo 1.2 Review
by dmmiller2k (Chaplain) on Feb 01, 2002 at 19:39 UTC

    Nice job :)

    While my initial reaction to all that cut'n'pasted stuff from ActiveState's website was negative ("C'mon, just post a link"), after reading your own comments I realized that there was no other way to do it.

    I spent some time playing with Komodo 1.1 and I agree with most of your negatives here (apparently not much has changed in version 2). In particular, I especially agree with the first two items (Slow and Slow :) and the default font style being variable width. Having no search and replace (much less a Perl-ish regex replace) is also a major deterrent for me.

    As for the debugger itself, I think it is missing something (as did the PDK, which I purchased).

    Having grown accustomed to using XEmacs' perl support on UNIXen, which provides a gui wrapper around the standard command-line debugger ('perl -d'), I've gotten used to some niceties which Komodo seems to leave out. In particular, the command-line debugger's 'x' command, which produces a Data::Dumper-like output when dumping complex structures. In contrast, Komodo (and the PDK) seem to only display the standard notation (for example, ARRAY(0x11e5c0) or HASH(0x11e5b0)), which is next to useless.

    If you want to explore a structure, you're reduced to explicitly requesting every individual element (which you sometimes don't know in advance, especially with hashes). Or, of course, you can use Data::Dumper; and print a dump, but this involves changing the source code for debugging (which sometimes is mistakenly not changed back). Not every perl script needs Data::Dumper.


    If you GIVE a man a fish you feed him for a day
    TEACH him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

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