March 31, 2011dynamic languages, komodo, komodo edit, komodo ide, netbeans, pylint, python

NetBeans Drops Python Support as Komodo Adds More

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.

Eric Promislow

Eric Promislow

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 Toronto. Before joining ActiveState, he helped create the OmniMark text-processing language.