Perl and IDEs

From about 1987 to about 4 or 5 years ago, I did all my software development using vi (and later gvim), ctags, and all the Unix command line tools. But towards the end of my time at Kodak, I got the Eclipse religion, at least as far as doing Java. Sure, I dislike having to move my hands away from the keys to move the cursor around all the time, but the code completion, integrated debugging and all that other good stuff won me over. The ability to click on an existing method call and see the javadoc for the method and to hit F3 and be taken to the actual code was a game changer for me. So much better than ctags. But for non-Java, whether shell scripts at work or perl at home, I still relied on gvim and the other command line tools.

But I’m about to start a huge and long term perl project, a large part of which is trying to learn all I can about an existing open source code base. So I wanted to see if an IDE would give me an advantage in terms of moving around the code I’m trying to learn. I installed the EPIC plugin for Eclipse, and also a dedicated perl IDE called “Padre”, and noodled around on both, and so far I’m forced to conclude that neither of them are as useful in perl as Eclipse is in Java. The biggest missing feature seems to be that F3 gets me the wrong function or method declaration most of the time. I don’t know why, possibly the typing system in perl is too weak for the sort of analysis and introspection that Eclipse does in Java.

So I think I’m going to be back to doing gvim and ctags and find and grep and perldoc and all the other fun stuff.

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One Response to Perl and IDEs

  1. Barry says:

    If you do discover a useful Perl IDE, please let me know – I haven’t been able to find one either.

    ActiveState’s Komodo was /okay/ about 10 years ago, but it was paid software and only ran on Windows.

    Everything else is worse – particularly on a Mac, so I still do all of my Perl work in plain old vim.

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