Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2008 (Washington, D.C.) with:

They're All Just Text Files (Adobe ColdFusion IDE Survey)

By Ben Nadel on

I just took the Adobe ColdFusion IDE Survey that Jason Delmore posted on his site. I would love for Adobe to get behind a really awesome web development IDE, a kind of best-of-breed from all the existing IDEs. However, when taking his survey, there was something that struck me as odd; these features were all broken out into separate line items:

  • HTML editing
  • CSS editing
  • Javascript editing
  • SQL Query editing

I found this to be really confusing. Aren't these all just text files? Why even break these out? Would anyone actually WANT to create an IDE that didn't allow for one of these functions to take place?

Of course not, that's the most ridiculous thought ever - that can't be what they are getting at; so, the next fear that I have is that they create an IDE that is composed of mini-apps. My fear is that they go the HomeSite / TopStyle route where when you edit CSS in HomeSite, it opens up into the TopStyle program (something that can thankfully be disabled!). Can you imagine having an IDE that actually launched different apps depending on what kind of file you went to edit. My stomach actually just turned a little bit thinking about that. Now, if this was extremely integrated such that you never knew another app was powering it, and could work equally well with stand alone files (ex. .css) as well inline tags (ex. style) tag, then that is something I could totally get down with.

I am not too experienced with CFEclipse, but maybe this is the kind of integration that that IDE already has.

I'm not sure why I feel so strongly about this, but I get a real gut reaction when I see something like this. I can't logically explain it.

What would be awesome, is if they took these line items and just made the syntax highlighting / color coding more impressive. For example, if it could highlight SQL constructs when inside of a CFQuery tag, or Javascript constructs when inside of a Script tag. Now, that would be awesome!


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Reader Comments

I think you may be misreading it. When it comes to supporting HTML/CSS/JS, there are multiple things they could add, like syntax coloring, code hinting, etc. Obviously they could ignore that- and just tread HTML/CSS/JS as plain text.

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@Ray,

Absolutely. I think syntax highlighting and code insight would be insanely cool. I just get very nervous about the idea of bundled apps. That's really where my fear-reaction was coming from. I want a single environment, not a glorified text pad that leverages other 3rd party products. I just don't want them to go down that road.

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Technically, that is close to what we have now in Eclipse. We download one additional app for CF (cfeclipse), then another (CF Extensions), then another for HTML/CSS stuff (Aptana). Now - they _are_ nicely integrated together into the Eclipse framework, and you don't end up with multiple apps, so I'd definitely say it is better than what you got in Homesite.

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@Ray,

That sounds good. I keep meaning to give CFEclipse another shot. I had some tabbing issues that were a deal breaker, but maybe that has been fixed (I like to put multi-attribute tags on multiple lines and the editor kept doing progressive tabbing for each attribute).

But yeah, good integration is all that is required.

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So Ben, if you don't use CFEclipse, what ARE you using? Like you, I've tried CFEclipse, but 'll admit to a preference for Homesite.

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I LOVE the Eclipse features. What I like less is the performance. If I could get the Eclipse/Aptana/CFEclipse features in a product with better performance. Because in my experience, Eclipse often takes over 100MB of RAM, and there are some projects that I can't even run with it for some reason, the moment I add the project the CPU spikes up, memory starts getting eaten up like it's a picnic, and if I don't kill the process my computer eventually hangs. I've yet to figure out why that is, but if I could resolve that problem I'd be a happy camper.

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Thomas, do a bit of Googling on Eclipse and performance. There is a config setting you can do to help it work better with memory. I don't have the exact setting in my brain now- but I remember it from my Windows days and it did help.

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@Ben:

You can turn off the tab stuff. That annoyed me for a while too, since I multi-line my attributes as well. I believe the setting is called "Smart Indenting" or some such.

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@Tom,

I use HomeSite 5.5 right now. It is pretty sweet, but I would love to get some of the really advanced stuff in CFEclipse.

@Rob,

I will take a look into that again. I feel like I tried turning that off before and that went too far the other way. What I want is just the carriage return to start at the beginning of the previous line. I may have not found this option, or this may have been fixed.

Thanks!

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I've tried all of the IDEs out there, homesite, cfstudio, dreamweaver and eclipse. I'm still using homesite as the others all annoy me for different reasons. I think eclipse has the most potential but one of the things that bugs me is having to install all the different elements like cfeclipse, aptana, etc. I can never seem to get it to work right across all the machines I use. What would be nice is if Adobe did a bundled package with everything included so I could download, install and start coding without having to worry about getting all the extra bits.

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I looked at Pulse and that is very cool, now I just need to figure out how to get RDS support to go along with it. The web tools link is also very interesting, I looked at that a while ago and I think I need to revisit it.

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CFEclipse still does the annoying tabbing with multi-line attributes, as well as many other annoyances.

The Web Tools Platform supports code insight, code assist, formatting, validation, highlighting, etc for html, css, javascript, sql, xml and more.

The code formatter even has an option for multi-line attributes and it works perfect. You can mix HTML, CSS, JS, in a single file and the it doesn't break the formatting.

Originally, since Coldfusion was a proprietary vendor-specific programming language, support for cfml and cfscript were explicitly out-of-scope of the web standard tools project. However, with the large coldfusion community and the open sourcing of blue dragon, I think the Eclipse WTP would be the perfect base for a coldfusion editor.

A pre-bundled package with Eclipse, WTP, and the ColdFusion extensions for Eclipse (optionally others like DTP, Mylyn, Subclipse, etc) would save the ones that don't want to mess with downloading and installing plugins time.

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