Sunday, January 23, 2011

SlickEdit 2011 Wish List

Well, we're nearly through January 2011, and the SlickEdit 2011 beta is due any day now.

I've been using SlickEdit since 1996, and I still get kind of excited around this time of year when a new version comes out. Sometimes the team surprises me.

Here is my wish list for features in SlickEdit 2011:

The first three are hot JVM languages that I'd love to see support for. I don't really expect to see them, but you never know. Last year, SlickEdit added support for Erlang, Haskell and F#, so they aren't completely in the dark about hot languages.

The next three items are popular distributed version control systems. Again, I don't really expect much from SlickEdit on that, yet. Forum posts on the topic have met with disappointing reponses from SlickEdit staff -- doesn't look like they "clicked" on DVCS yet. It took them an awful long time to move on from CVS to Subversion themselves, and even now the Subversion support is miserable compared to any other tool I've used. And so, my wish, modernise the Subversion support.

SlickEdit has a lot of advanced features for C/C++ programmers. C/C++ programmers probably make up a very large chunk, if not the majority, of SlickEdit users. And as far as I can tell, SlickEdit is actually one of the best "IDE"s available for C/C++. I don't do C/C++ any more myself though, I do JVM-based languages mostly. And with Java, SlickEdit also tries to be an uber-IDE, with Project Types, JUnit, Ant support and more. But here it falls far, far short of industry standards. Java programmers are really spoiled by the superb IDEs aavailable for them, and two of the best ones are even free. Anyway, I don't wish for SlickEdit to improve its Java IDE features. I'm happy to use a Java IDE for that kind of work. The point I'd like to make is that supporting current VCS systems, and supporting them really well, would benefit all SlickEdit users. I can't imagine many SlickEdit users are not using VCS, and many of them probably use a modern VCS, such as Git. It's really about time SlickEdit caught up with the VCS game.

For a couple of examples of excellent VCS integration, look at:

SlickEdit 2011 included some rather dubious new features. My favorite "non useful feature" was Subword Navigation. You can move the cursor through camel-cased words such as AbstractBeanFactory. But when would anyone want to do that? Far more useful would be file or class completion/loading using smart "camel typing", as introduced by IntelliJ IDEA and copied by other tools. With IDEA, I can press Ctrl+N to open a class, then type "ABF" or "AbBeFa" to open the AbstractBeanFactory class. This is really useful, and would be something SlickEdit could really benefit from.

Anyway, I'm sure SlickEdit 2011 will contain a few pleasant surprises, as well as a few new annoying bugs. As always, it will be interesting to figure whether the feature-to-bug ratio improves, or not. I'm looking forward to the beta.

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