Sunday, August 02, 2009

Developer Tools and JavaScript Syntax Checking

I was using Coda to do web development, primarily because of the simple interface, nice Panic Sans font and integrated FTP and Subversion support. I normally just use TextWrangler for Dojo Core development.

However, while doing development at the new job, FTP/Subversion support was not needed, and I have grown tired having to run my JavaScript in the browser to find basic syntax errors.

I saw David Ascher using Komodo Edit, the free editor from ActiveState, which has JavaScript syntax checking built in. Searching in the Tools, Add-Ons menu for Dojo also brought up a Dojo API Catalogs extension that allowed for autocomplete of Dojo APIs.

Komodo Edit has been mentioned in the Dojo community before as a nice option particularly for doing Dojo development, but I can get severe tunnel-vision, so it was not until recently that really tried out Komodo Edit.

After I changed the key bindings to use the normal OS X COMMAND+] and COMMAND+[ for multi-line indenting, I was ready to go!

It makes a difference having syntax checking and Dojo API autocompletion. I believe other tools, like Emacs with js2-mode, can get at least syntax checking, but I am not an Emacs user. It would be neat to see Coda (and TextWrangler) add JavaScript syntax checking support. I can see JavaScript syntax checking being a minimum requirement for JS coders going forward.

As Bespin comes along, I can see it as my next developer tool upgrade, particularly since FTP support has been implicitly needed for some of my projects. With Bespin, I might be able to edit directly on the server.

For now I am enjoying the bump in productivity with Komodo Edit. Thanks ActiveState for making a nice tool available for free!