Komodo - not just a dragon

I've tried all sorts of editors in my time: emacs, vim, Eclipse, Zend Studio. After I got into Ruby on Rails, I bought a copy of TextMate to be my main editor. But that's all it is, an editor. In the Rails world, lightweight tools are preferred. I'm a big believer in lightweight tools, because I *hate* when my system gets lagged down because of the number of apps I'm running at once. However, I've noticed that there really isn't much out there in the way of a full IDE for Rails, with debugging tools, etc. I really like the TextMate + Cyberduck combo I've been using at work for my PHP work and using TextMate for all my Ruby work. But I feel like a debugger is something that is missing. Maybe that's in the works or exists already, I just haven't run into it.

For PHP I really liked Zend Studio, but it was pretty expensive for just one developer to buy...and my company seems reluctant to fork out the cash to buy me a copy. The other PHP developer at work is old skool, using vim. So, I'd been getting along just fine with TextMate...but was starting to feel the pinch of not having a debugger (and some integrated version control would be nice) for the PHP work. A step-through debugger would've been a HUGE help as I was building out my Sportsticker feed parser. I got so used to using var_dump and print statements at certain points to see what was going on, that I totally forgot about using debuggers and setting break points, and the joy that can come from putting your app through it's paces via a step-through debugger. Work smarter Chris, not harder. :)

Now, one of the fine folks who is putting together the Vancouver PHP Conference 2007 is Shane Caraveo, who is a lead developer for ActiveState, the company that makes the Komodo IDE. While exchanging some emails with him (thanking him for the reimbursement cheque for my flight to Vancouver amongst other things) I sort of jokingly mentioned that I thought it would be a nice perk for giving the talk at the conference if I could get a copy of Komodo from them, because I felt that I would have to buy a copy of it with my own money if I wanted a copy. Next thing I new, I got an email from someone at ActiveState with a link to a downloadable copy of Komodo IDE 4.0 (the latest) and a license for it. Awesome!

One of the blogs I read is Jim Plush's (I heard him on the sadly silent Pro-PHP podcast), and he was raving about Komodo because, like me, he uses a MacBook and there is no Intel version of Zend Studio Server. He even provided a nice link to someone else instructions on how to get the PHP debugger up and running.

Undaunted, I set things up and bingo! It works like a charm. Just as a test, I decided to try the step-through debugger on my reporting system I wrote in CakePHP and got a glimpse into the heart of CakePHP just to do a simple request. On Monday I'm going to configure PHP on my development server at work to have support for XDebug built into it so I can use the step-through debugger there as well. It will help me track down some stupid mistakes I made with the Sportsticker code that took me a long time to figure out.

Until you've used one of these debuggers for a while, you don't understand how powerful they really are. Thanks again to Shane for hooking me up with a copy! I owe you a beer or two while in Vancouver...