Aptana 0.2 Review

As promised a few days ago, I bring you now a short, but reasonable review of Aptana, the self-entitled web IDE.

When I first opened the program, there were things that quickly surprised me, and then I started feeling constraints.

The first thing I liked and enjoyed about the program is it’s similarity to Dreamweaver (from now on referred to as DW). Though I don’t consider DW a role model in terms of interface, it’s surprising easy and useful to use most if not all of it’s options. Aptana goes a step forward in terms of side bars in instantly lays out 5 of them, leaving you constrained in a relatively small space for programming.

The second thing that crossed my mind when I started using it a bit is that is has no buttons/wizards to create websites. This wasn’t meant for people that don’t know anything about HTML. And the more you use it, you will find out that most of the usefulness of this program is in JavaScript programing, which is something that has much room for improvement in DW.

You will also find none of the short, but useful features that DW has, like it’s “import CSS or JS libraries” feature. You have to “do” everything yourself.

But it’s when you actually start typing things in a CSS or JS file that Aptana really starts to brighten up. First of all, you’ll see a menu appear, similar to DW’s, but, with small icons for each of the browsers, saying which are and aren’t compatible with which browsers. For me, this feature is gold by itself, no more going to devguru or other websites every time some tag isn’t working, or working appropriately, I just have to type it down to see if it does.

Even though it’s great to know what tags work and don’t, for JS it’s not enough, you need to know how all the tags are written exactly, and how you can apply them. On Aptana, if you simply click on a tag it will give you a description of what the tag does, what browsers support it, the tag’s syntax and some small tips saying in which cases you should use it.

Aptana also carries a small Database on JS, so whenever you press F1 for help it will immediately present a few HTML DOM documents regarding what you needed help.

In conclusion, Aptana is, by far, the best JS programming tool I’ve ever seen in a long time. However, after you use it for a while, together with HTML and CSS documents you can’t help but feel that those later two were “left out” on some interesting features. Quite frankly, I miss some of DW’s features, because they’re easily accessible there’s plenty of them to choose from, but on the other hand, it’s quite easy to get lost in DW’s menus going back and forth searching for what you want to do. Aptana on the other hand, is simple and direct. You will find no special treats to make you type less things, but you will find some things that will greatly reduce headaches in CSS and specially JS.

I definitely recommend every web developer gives Aptana a try. But if you’re a webdesigner, I’m sorry, this isn’t the best program for you, stick with Dreamweaver for now.

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