A free program for working on websites
While many programming languages used online can be edited in a simple text editor such as Notepad, as projects get bigger a more sophisticated alternative is helpful. As much as we like Notepad++ for it's colour coding and built in FTP tool, Aptana Studio is better for bigger projects as it helps manage files in the project and includes tools such as code checking completion. Aptana Studio is completely free to download and use.
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Git support is setup automatically. Git is a way of working on programming projects with other people without over writing changes. Just accept the changes if you've never used Git before; it won't affect your ability to work on projects on your computer.
The main screen is very similar to the Microsoft Visual Studio Express Editions that we have looked at recently. Rather than leaving you with a blank editor, a daunting prospect for beginners, it shows a page from the Aptana website with links for documentation and discussions on the forum.
You can either create a new project or import an existing one. We opened a clean installation of GetSimple as a New Folder as a project. This added all of the files used by this website CMS in the App Explorer on the left hand side so we could quickly open them and see their location.
The editing window uses a black background, which might take some getting used to. There is code colouring and the grey used for comments does mean that code stands out better from comments.
It includes code completion for supported languages, such as PHP when we were editing GetSimple. It will also offer known variables as part of this, which is just as helpful for avoiding mistakes when writing code. The code completion does not look as attractive as Visual Studio but it gets the job done.
There is a preview window for HTML files but it appears in a separate tab rather than the split screen view on offer in Visual Studio Web Developer Express Edition.
One helpful touch we noticed was a bar next to the scroll bar that showed the location in the document of problems detected by the HTML editor.
Aptana is also available for Linux and Mac OS X. These versions should be offered to you if you go to the download page using the Download now button. Otherwise click on the Customize your download button to see the other options.
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