Reviews » PrimalScript 3.1

Having a full-featured editor that helps with the syntax of the language at hand is important for the efficiency of all developers. Most need to work with multiple languages and technologies in parallel, which makes tools that span a majority of these languages invaluable. Not only does it clutter the workspace and load the machine down to have several editors and bulky IDEs running, but the frustration of not finding the features in the same place (or at all) in different tools is a waste of energy and time. PrimalScript offers support for a wide range of languages, including HTML, Flash, JavaScript, XML, XSLT, Awk, Perl, Python, Java, VBScript, ASP, PHP, JSP, CSS, and many more. This makes PrimalScript especially handy for people with a foot in both the Windows and UNIX worlds.

When PrimalScript is fired up, a GUI that looks like the typical IDE with many toolbars greets the user. Fear not, they can all be hidden to provide a large, unobstructed workspace. When it comes to scripting, it is usually adequate to just drag-and-drop the files needed at the moment on the editor, but projects can also be created to keep the files easily accessible. Settings for execution and ftp etc can be bound to projects to ease testing and transfer.

PrimalScript has many features to make scripting less of an effort. This is not the place to list them all, but a few deserve being mentioned.

The colors of the editor and the syntax highlighting can be customized to the user's preference. Some categories, such as strings, are common for all languages, while others are specific to the language. Anybody who has coded in Visual Studio knows what a great help Microsoft's IntelliSense can be. PrimalScript's PrimalSense offers similar help by listing members, auto-correcting, closing tags, adding braces, and more. The brace matching functionality makes complicated expressions much easier to write and understand.

Multiple selections can be kept in the PrimalScript clipboard, or “recycle bin”. Everything cut, copied, or deleted is saved to the recycle bin. There is also the option of appending to the current clipboard and cycling through the clipboard ring while pasting – a handy functionality once one becomes familiar. There is also incremental search (as in Emacs) support for find and replace using regular expressions, and searching of all files.

A type library browser lists classes and their members .With the “snippet nexus” small blocks of code with control structures etc that are common in each language, can be inserted. This is a great help when the syntax is hard to remember.

Another nifty “nexus” is the HTML one that displays the structure of an HTML document as a tree for easy navigation.

A menu for integrated source control provides access to all the regular source control functions. However, it requires using a system that supports the MSSCCAPI API, such as Visual Source Safe. There is still hope for CVS users, as there is third party software that will add an MSSCCAPI layer on top of CVS.

PrimalScript is best editor that we have reviewed and it is packed full of features. Opening very large files, such as big XML trees, can be a bit slow, but this is not unusual problem for an editor. Sapien's PrimalScript is well worth a try and is unlikely to disappoint. The Guru highly recommends PrimalScript for the professional developer.

PrimalScript is available as a free 30-day trial from Sapien's website. The purchase price at the time this article was written was $179. For more information, or to download a trial, visit Sapien's website at .