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An IDE for perl? May 23, 2008

Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.

szabgab writes (aggregated on planet.perl.org) about the absence of a decent IDE for perl. To be correct, he rather acknowledges the existence of some IDEs like Eclipse + Epic or Komodo but he prefers to work with the old trusted vi + command line.

That’s fine, but like he writes in his post, some people expect an IDE as they are used to using one while developing in other languages, specially in the Windows world. In my case, I know my way pretty well in Unix (I use it professionally and at my desktop) and vi and still, I prefer to use an IDE. Why?

Well, I’ll answer this question by giving an answer to the “survey” that szabgab proposes. I use Eclipse + Epic for perl. The following text is copy-pasted from szabgab’s post with my answer beneath each line.

Beginners (especially in classes) need these:

  • Good Syntax highlighting
    → check.
  • Automatic syntax checking
    → check.
  • Bracket highlighting and bracket matching
    → check.
  • Code suggestion and auto-completion for perl keywords
    → check.
  • Showing the available parameters of keywords
    → check.
  • Context sensitive help on perl built-ins (including variables and constructs) and on modules
    → check.
  • Pod viewer
    → check.
  • Integrated Debugger (expression evaluation, breakpoints, watches etc.)
    → check.
  • Mouse over tool tips for variable contents
    → not that I know off.
  • Debugging: Edit and Continue support
    → check.
  • Jump directly to locations (editor-wise) Perl has warned or died at
    → check.

When writing applications (the first few years) people also need these:

  • Display subroutines in a sidebar
    → check.
  • Auto-completion for methods in OOP development
    → check.
  • Remote editing (via ftp, ssh, etc.)
    → I don’t use this, but I suppose it’s built into Eclipse. I use my own scripts executed from the IDE.
  • Remote debugging (when the code is actually running on another machine
    → no idea.
  • Integration with version control
    → great integration with subversion (the version control I use).
  • For web application emulation of a real Web server
    → check (however, I haven’t use this much).

And the more advanced stuff is here:

  • Refactoring support
    → check.
  • Tool to build GUI
    → None. However, I use this IDE with great results in combination with Glade and gtk2-perl.
  • Integration with unit testing
    → Not built in, but it can be added using the “External Tools” (this is how I executed scripts remotely, however when I need to edit something in place on a Unix server I use vim).

In short, I have found a professional and complete toolset for my perl needs. It has most of the features needed for a serious IDE and even more (like RegEx engine, export to html, etc). Now that I use netbeans for java, the epic perl plugin is the only reason I keep eclipse installed.

A perl IDE dreamed in the past is a reality.


1. fossman - January 14, 2010

i agree with the absence of a descent IDE for Perl. I prefer Emacs even though its not a IDE

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