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Visual SlickEdit 8.0


By Michael Riley


Visual SlickEdit has been receiving praise for years for hitting the code-editor sweet spot. Version 8.0 will perpetuate the accolades with its new features: XML Schema Tagging and Tree Editing support; three-way merge support designed to identify and eliminate code conflicts; built-in Secure FTP support; and, most importantly for .NET language aficionados, improved VB .NET and C# language support.


Probably the most exciting selling point SlickEdit offers .NET developers is its flawless cross-platform support. Combining SlickEdit with various C# compiler projects underway on the Linux platform such as Ximian's Project Mono (, you finally have a robust, full-featured, class-browsing, auto-completing code editor that can effectively manage C# server-side projects on these competing platforms. Not only does the C# application behave as expected on both platforms, but - even more amazing - the Visual SlickEdit environments were identical. Absolutely no disorientation resulted from switching between the two SlickEdit platforms. Needless to say, I was impressed.


In addition to being as flexible as possible to the .NET language developer, Visual SlickEdit also sports full language support for more than 40 languages, 60 character encoding types, and it runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris, and AIX. To execute macros on these multiple environments, SlickEdit has created its own easy-to-learn C-like macro language named Slick-C. You can download several useful macros written by Visual SlickEdit users from the SlickEdit Web site.


The product also is packed with code-editing timesavers. API Apprentice lets you pick functions and enter parameters from a peppy, clean interface. You can embed and manage different languages in the same file (such as HTML syntax within a C# coded file). Unlimited undo, even with past file saves, is like having a poor man's version-control system built into the product. The DIFFzilla dialog box provides text and multifile comparison. SlickEdit can edit files of any size and intelligently load the parts of the file it needs to via demand file loading. And, you can tailor its color-coding ability for any unique or future language syntax, making the product obsolesce-retardant.


One of my favorite features is its - dare I say - slick interface. Unlike the corporate cubicle feel of Visual Studio, Visual SlickEdit's style is more like an open office space that you can remodel to suit your needs. From the way it handles the chameleon job of effortlessly switching between languages to its ability to format the source in the best way to suit its user's needs, Visual SlickEdit does almost everything right. Areas where it falters are minor. One option I would have preferred was a real-time "Beautify" function. Although SlickEdit does a standard job of intending code blocks, I found myself visiting the Tools, Beautify Source... option for even the slightest code changes. SlickEdit also must replace its spell-check library. Common words such as e-mail and Internet are nowhere to be found in its dictionary. At least the appalling spell checker counters with its ability to locate misspellings in HTML tags.


Nevertheless, even with these minor issues, I quickly adopted Visual SlickEdit as my coding editor of choice. If uniform cross-platform, multilanguage development is the real world you live in, consider moving into Visual SlickEdit.



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Price: US$299




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