ActiveState Komodo 2.3 Beta 1 Released

Thursday January 30th, 2003

salmo writes: "Komodo 2.3 Beta 1 was just released by ActiveState. Lots of interesting changes, including more robust project management." Komodo is a Mozilla-based integrated development environment (IDE) for open source languages.

Update! CNET has a review of the currently shipping Komodo 2.0.

#1 A fine editor

by asa

Thursday January 30th, 2003 10:52 PM

As any of you who read my weblog probably know, I've been looking for a decent text editor to replace UltraEdit since I made the switch to Linux, RedHat 8.0 specifically. I've been using various of kate, gedit, kedit, jedit, and komodo for a a while and I'm pretty sure that I've found my new editor. I'm gonna be putting up some reviews/experiences with the different editors at the ol' blog sometime soon. In the mean time I'm happy to share my experience with Komodo 2 and 2.3beta 1.

Komodo meets several of my key criteria and it's Mozilla-based to I was pleased with it even before the install. I appreciate (and need) the tabs, the syntax coloring and indenting is good, the syntax checking (which happens dynamically as you write) is very cool and the Mozilla Composer-like HTML preview tab is super handy for me. Other nifty features include Mozilla's type ahead find-like incremental search that keeps the dialogs out of your face and your text unobscured and line bookmarking which kicks butt, allowing you to flag or bookmark lined of code and easily navigate to those flags. Komodo is definitely a nice full-featured editor (and a lot more). The app feels solid and the XUL UI is very snappy and responsive. The only downside for me is that it's a lot more than just a good text editor; it's a full IDE with debuggers, GUI builders, source code tools and a lot more. For all I liked about using the Komodo editor, it's just more than I need. I'd recommend, however, to any Perl, Python, PHP, or JavaScript developers that they definitely check this out. It's both a very powerful set of tools and a very cool demonstration of what can be done with Mozilla technologies.


#5 Re: A fine editor

by erik

Friday January 31st, 2003 6:40 AM

I agree, Komodo looks promising but there are a few reasons why I will not go out and buy this.

The main issue I'm having is the startup time. For me it takes about 20 seconds (on a 1800/512). If they could get the startup down to a second or two this would be a winner. Ok, it would have been nice it if use -moz-appearance but that is not preventing me from using it.

Feature wise this editor has almost all of the feauters I want (and a few more)

#12 Re: Re: A fine editor

by asa

Friday January 31st, 2003 1:33 PM

Well, yes, I agree somewhat about the startup time. It's six seconds or so on my machine. For me that's not much of an annoyance because I tend to launch most of my apps when I get in front of the computer and then keep them up for most of the day. And using the -moz-appearance theme stuff might be nice but doesn't seem at all necessary.


#21 this and bug 85799

by mattdm

Saturday February 1st, 2003 4:26 PM

It'd be interesting if some of this work could be used to contribute to bug #85799 (, which is an RFE for a textarea that doesn't suck. The web is great, but many web-based applications are severely hampered by the pathetic default multiline text-entry box that we're all used to. Sounds like Komodo has a good moz-based text editor already -- maybe some of that could be pulled into service?

#6 Re: A fine editor

by zreo2

Friday January 31st, 2003 8:21 AM

Well... well... It's back to Textpad on windows (haven't found a good editor yet for Linux that matches Textpads functionality).

It takes to long time to start and it's not fast enough to work in (I have a P3, 256mb). But I'm impressed with the handling of function code sequences and some other usefull functions. But an editor should be light and dont take a long time to start.

#7 Re: Re: A fine editor

by spiv

Friday January 31st, 2003 9:16 AM

"But I'm impressed with the handling of function code sequences and some other usefull functions. But an editor should be light and dont take a long time to start."

You know, vim has loads of useful features, and is still pretty lightweight and fast to start... it's not the most newbie-friendly editor, but I think it's probably worth the time and effort to learn. Alternatively, [x]emacs is also good, but doesn't quite fit your "light" and "dont take a long time to start" criteria as well.

Both vim and emacs easily outdo Textpad for functionality (and I've extensively used Textpad, so I know how much it can do). Don't let their scary first impressions fool you! I'd recommend vim or emacs over any other editor, anyday (I'm a vim user), even new-fangled IDEs with lots of eye-candy :)

#8 Re: Re: A fine editor

by asim

Friday January 31st, 2003 10:12 AM

"But an editor should be light and dont take a long time to start."

Komodo's really an IDE, not an editor. Comparisons with Visual Studio -- or even Dreamweaver -- are, to my observations, apt.

#11 exactly.

by joschi

Friday January 31st, 2003 1:15 PM

if you are worried about 15 seconds of startup time, then you dont really understand what an IDE is for.

#13 Re: Re: A fine editor

by asa

Friday January 31st, 2003 1:39 PM

"But an editor should be light and dont take a long time to start."

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that this app should be judged as just "an editor". It certainly should not be. I happened to be looking for an editor and Komodo has as _one_ of its components a very capable editor. Komodo is an Integrated Development Environment. It's not just an editor and while it does contain an editor it's not fair to compare launch speed to other "just editors". I was comparing it to some other editors I've been testing out (some of them are also more than just editors) and Komodo fared well in usability and features. Because of tabs, I wasn't even bothered by the startup speed (about 6 seconds on my laptop) because I launch the app once and then use it all day long with various tabs for different tasks. Does notepad or gedit start a lot faster? Yes. Do either of them have the features that I need to work quickly? Nope.


#25 On being an editor

by david_ascher

Monday February 3rd, 2003 10:59 PM

First -- ooh, asa's a user! Cool!

Second -- While it's true that Komodo is more than "just" an editor, we do want it to be one of the best editors around. After all, we write in Komodo 10-12 hours a day, and we are very demanding of our editors. While Komodo will never compete with something like vi in terms of footprint, we do want to compete favorably for people who have the available memory and can get used to an "always on" environment, especially if they want something that's easier to extend than vi or emacs.

While we've done a lot to improve the editor in the recent releases, we still have plenty on our todo lists, such as making Komodo more 'pluginnable'. We already have customizable key bindings, very powerful code snippets, "run commands", etc., but we still want to make it possible -- and easy! -- for people to extend Komodo even further, using macros (in JavaScript, Python or Perl, at least for now =), as well as by adding new UI elements through XUL (presumably - that particular feature is still vaporware).

Finally -- some of the infrastructure that we've built in Komodo makes it easy to do "editor" features that would be much harder to implement otherwise. A good small example of that is the new "Show unsaved changes" feature in 2.3b1 -- it's only a few well-placed lines of XUL/JS, but leverages the integration with source code control to provide a diff of the file in the editor compared to the file on disk. I expect that we'll be able to add a lot of this kind of feature in the coming months.


-- David Ascher ActiveState

#2 How does Komodo use Moz?

by MozSaidAloha

Friday January 31st, 2003 12:35 AM

I was wondering that. I know it is not a browser...

#3 Re: How does Komodo use Moz?

by bzbarsky

Friday January 31st, 2003 12:43 AM

How do Chatzilla, Mailnews, Composer, DOM Inspector use Moz?

#10 the whole thing is built using XUL

by joschi

Friday January 31st, 2003 1:14 PM

The whole Komodo application is built using XUL. They distribute their own version of mozilla along with all their XUL. Komodo show how cool XUL really is.

#4 Any Unicode support?

by bertilow

Friday January 31st, 2003 5:18 AM

How does Komodo handle Unicode? Typing? Displaying? It ought to do it well, since it's based on Mozilla, but I have seen such things being spoiled before.

#17 Re: Any Unicode support?

by urichter

Friday January 31st, 2003 6:15 PM

I've tested 2.0 after release and it had a bug with non-ASCII characters. For each non-ASCII character one character at end of line (or end of syntax highlighting bock) was not displayed. (but still present in text file.) This may be fixed by now, dont know. Beside that, character support is good. Several ISO/Windows character sets, UTF-8, UTF-16 little/big endian, DOS/Unix/Mac line endings...

#22 We're getting better!

by david_ascher

Monday February 3rd, 2003 10:41 PM

Komodo 2.0 indeed had some serious Unicode bugs. 2.0.1 fixed a lot of those (especially on Linux -- we put a lot of effort into getting non-ASCII handling to work well for that release). We try to support as many character sets as we can. Unfortunately we still have some known issues with multi-byte text entry, something we hope to address in later releases.


-- David Ascher Komodo tech lead ActiveState

#9 When are they going to support...

by bcortez

Friday January 31st, 2003 11:37 AM

...JavaScript debugging. The only game in town right now is Venkman (which I use). However, I'd like an alternative choice of Moz dev't platform.

#14 Re: When are they going to support...

by asa

Friday January 31st, 2003 1:54 PM

I'm not a developer but my experiences poking around in Komodo is that it's not really designed specifically for the JavaScript developers. It does have nice editing tools for a dozen or so languages including JavaScript. So, for example, it has syntax highlighting and coloring, background (dynamic) syntax checking, code folding/collapsing and a few other niceties like commenting and uncommenting blocks of code. But even the editor is not as complete for JS as it is for Perl, Python, Tcl, PHP and XSLT which have nice autocomplete, function searches, and calltips. And JavaScript doesn't appear to be supported in the debugger which looks to me to be much more focused on Python, Perl and PHP and XSLT.

So you're probably correct that for JS debugging that Venkman is "the only game in town". One more example of a great XUL based app :)


#23 We're not forgetting JS

by david_ascher

Monday February 3rd, 2003 10:42 PM

We are considering building something on top of Venkman in future releases. As Mozilla developers, we definitely appreciate the value of a JS debugger! We do want to make it fit well within the bigger Komodo picture, however.

-- David Ascher ActiveState

#15 it'd be nice if i could run it.

by sweeze

Friday January 31st, 2003 3:02 PM

So I install it, but when I try to run it, I get a message saying my license is no good. But clicking on the 'get a licence' button just takes me back to the page I had to go through to download it. wtf?

#16 Re: it'd be nice if i could run it.

by asa

Friday January 31st, 2003 4:12 PM

You should have gotten an email from activestate when you completed your download. That email contains a link to your windows or linux key. Download and execute that key to unlock the build.


#18 GRE

by dave532

Friday January 31st, 2003 8:02 PM

Will komodo be modified to use the Gecko runtime environment by the final release.

This would be an ideal candidate to use the GRE as it would make the download lighter for people who already have the appropriate version of mozilla installed.

#19 Komodo

by salmo

Saturday February 1st, 2003 1:40 AM

I guess I'll post something here since I submitted the article. Komodo isn't an editor. It HAS one (and a dern good one), but that is not its primary feature. Komodo's impressive feature list includes multilanguage support (python and PHP being the primary languages I use and whichI use as my only basis of judgement), great debugging support for both languages, project management, CVS integration, and an incredible Regex tool. For PERL folks (especially on winders) it has a handy package management utility, and the ability to package standalone PERL apps. Two features I have yet to see in other IDEs (let alone free or competitively priced ones-- feel free to prove me wrong with a link ;-) are the integration with the ActiveState cookbook, and the ease of developing webservices and for webservices. Plus since its Mozilla based its nicely cross platform so I can develop on both Windows and Linux (which I do) without having to adjust.

I don't work for ActiveState, although I feel like I should be given a free liscense for my evalgelism here. If you seriously develop in any of the supported languages supported give it a try and see what you think. Lately I've alternated between it and Eclipse but I definitely prefer it, despite its non-free (in any sense) liscense.

#20 Re: Komodo

by dave532

Saturday February 1st, 2003 7:16 AM

How easy do you think it would be for ActiveState to port this to other platforms such as Solaris and Mac OS X?

I know the mozilla based parts of the code won't be a problem, but there is obviously some proprietary stuff in there too.

It'd be nice to see this on a commercial UNIX and the Mac platform too, if it's not going to be that expensive to port any of the proprietary code to run on these platforms. This would make it a truely cross platform IDE

#24 Platform ports

by david_ascher

Monday February 3rd, 2003 10:47 PM

We are definitely looking into ports (Mac OSX and Solaris being the top two contenders). Solaris shouldn't be too hard -- what's a bit harder is to do the Mac OS X port, since it would be a shame to do a 'low-quality' OS X port. The biggest issue on OS X is porting Scintilla, which is our text editor 'widget', which we've shoehorned into Mozilla as a plugin.

As usual, porting is only half of the battle -- testing and support are just as important in figuring out the economics of this kind of decision.


-- David Ascher ActiveState

#26 When will it support XUL and pyXPCOM?

by lemsel

Tuesday February 4th, 2003 3:48 PM

It would be nice if the amazing IDE for OS technologies, built on Mozilla technology, could be used to build Mozilla apps.

#27 Re: When will it support XUL and pyXPCOM?

by david_ascher

Thursday February 6th, 2003 11:07 PM

We're working on adding support for higher-power XML editing. Hopefully we'll be able to do XUL/XBL validation and autocomplete in future releases. What would you envisage as meaningful support for PyXPCOM? Please let us know at

Thanks for the feedback,

--david ascher