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Keywords: Programmers editor, Java, XML editor, IDE

Title: jEdit 4.2


Licence: Open source (GPL)

Platform: Java (Windows, Linux, Solaris etc)

Verdict: Very highly recommended.

jEdit is a open-source multi-platform, multi-language programmers editor and development environment. Coded in Java, it's a fine example of a Java desktop tool that looks good, is packed full of useful functionality and has snappy response times. If the mere thought of running a Java app makes your blood run cold then think again - more than one user has been forced to think again after giving jEdit a spin. Of course being coded in Java means that it is platform independent, and can run on any platform that has a run-time environment, from Windows, Linux, BSD, Solaris to VMS, OS2 and Mac OSX. If you code on multiple platforms then this is a tool that you can probably use across all of them.

In terms of development environments, jEdit sits somewhere in the middle. It's not a complete heavy-weight like Eclipse or Visual Studio, but it's also much more than a light-weight tool like JCreator. For starters this is very much a programmers editor rather than a Java editor - it can be used for XML, HTML, Python (including Jython), Perl, PHP and many, many more.

It provides all of the functions that one would expect from a good prog editor: source code colouring, opening multiple files, enhanced cut and paste, code folding, integration with external tools (such as Apache Ant and JUnit) and much more. Performance is very good, as has been mentioned previously. There are also numerous customisation options, including an option to change the look and feel, (with choices including Java Metal, Windows and Motif).

One of the keys to the flexibility and functionality of jEdit is that there is an active team of developers producing plug-ins that extend the core editor. There is a built-in plug-in manager that can download, install and manage the various plug-ins (which are open-sourced). Plug-ins are not the only form of extensibility, and jEdit includes a macro language that can be used to automate tasks.

XML support is one area where jEdit scores very highly indeed. The XML plug-ins that are available are enough to turn jEdit into an excellent XML development tool. The syntax colouring, tag-completion, XML indenting and support for editing make this a valuable addition to a tool-set, certainly this user has found jEdit to be better than many XML-specific editors.

Other areas of functionality worth a mention include full FTP support (so that files can be edited across an FTP connection), HTML output for source code, source code syntax colouring for around 130 languages, rectangular text selection and lots more.

As important as the functionality is the support that is available. There is an active development and user community around jEdit. The software is constantly being developed and enhanced, and the bug rate is very low. In terms of stability this is rock-steady, far better than many commercial offerings. Lead developer Slava Pestov and the team producing the plug-ins deserve a pat on the back for their efforts in this regard.

Finally, the software is fully supported with help files, quick start guide and an API for developers.

To conclude, this is a powerful and useful tool that every developer ought to investigate. It definitely gets the TechBookReport seal of approval.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2005. Published March 5 2005