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NetBeans Drops Python Support as Komodo Adds More
by Eric Promislow

Eric Promislow, March 31, 2011
Komodo IDE for Dynamic Languages

A couple of months the ago the NetBeans project announced that it was abandoning support for Ruby. This week word spread that they were dropping Python as well (here and here.)

Most of Komodo's back-end is implemented in Python, so we're obviously not going to make a similar decision. But this announcement makes a lot of sense to me. Supporting a language properly in an IDE like Komodo (or NetBeans, for that matter) is a lot of hard work. IDEs have to stay in step with changes to their core languages, or risk looking like they've abandoned them. In the last few years we've had spikes in activity to handle Python 3, Ruby 1.9, Rails 3, PHP 5.3, and Perl 5.10.

With Komodo we've focused on our core strengths, which are in open-source dynamic languages and related web technologies. A lot of developers who work primarily in other languages also like Komodo, and have asked us if we'd just pretty-please support Java, or C/C++, or C#. (Every time I use XCode, I wish the editor could do half of what Komodo does.) While there might be some decent initial revenue if we expanded into these languages, we probably wouldn't do as good a job as the IDEs that focus on them specifically, and the quality of our core languages would start to diminish due to the mis-allocated resources.

Sticking with the languages we know best has definitely worked for us. This year we won InfoWorld's "Best Python IDE" award, finishing first out of nine contenders, and we aren't stopping. I'm finishing up some code that will add multiple Python syntax checkers to Komodo (man, that pylint has a lot of issues, but that's a good thing in a syntax checker), and we're exploring new ways to support Django. Meanwhile, we still have no plans to do anything with Java.

So if this string of announcements is putting an end to a world where one IDE was supposed to suffice for all languages, I welcome it. We'll continue to work on dynamic languages and help developers who work in other languages to add them to Komodo with language extensions.

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Category: komodo, python
About the Author: RSS

Eric Promislow is a senior developer who's worked on Komodo since the very beginning. He has a M.Sc. in Computing Science from Queen's University and a B.Sc. in Biophysics from the University of Ontario. Before joining ActiveState, he helped create the OmniMark text-processing language.

Comments

5 comments for NetBeans Drops Python Support as Komodo Adds More
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NetBeans never provided official Python support, it was a community-developed plug-in from the start that I believe the NetBeans team helped out with for a bit.

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One more reason to use komodo instead of Netbeans.

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@johnc, I had gathered that the Python support was an addon, as the two resources I quoted were both from developer mailing lists, as opposed to the official Ruby announcement from a month ago.

There were two points I wanted to make:

1. IDEs can become unwieldy blobs of bytes if they don't specialize. It's up to an IDE vendor to keep this from
happening, and this is a welcome trend I'm seeing in the industry right now, as each IDE is sticking focusing on
working on its main platform rather than spreading itself
too thin.

2. Ignoring point 1, it's relatively easy to add support for (some) new languages to Komodo, as the main extension languages are Python, JavaScript, three XML dialects
(XUL for UI, XBL for widget behaviors, and Komodo's own CIX
for building code-completion catalogs), and the Lex-like UDL for defining syntax-coloring.

- Eric

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Stay with what you know, this is the best IDE for open source languages that I have seen. Most of my co-works us the free editor that you provide and one day I hope to convince them to use the full IDE.

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If Komodo provided support for Jython I would happily uninstall NetBeans and use Komodo exclusively. Until that happens I will have to keep NetBeans around for Jython specific work.