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SlickEdit Studio: An IDE in the Rough : Page 3

While the new SlickEdit Studio delivers on its promise of multilingual support and a high degree of customizability, counter-intuitive interfaces and excess Java baggage dull this IDE's luster.




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Tech Support Blues
Having learned the hard way what the correct sequence of operations is for debugging a C++ program, I still wasn't able to get things going. Ominous error messages and mysterious crashes nipped every debugging session in its bud. There was no escape from contacting SlickEdit's tech support. Trust me, if there's one thing reviewers hate more than contacting tech support, it's receiving machine generated replies that contain absolutely nothing helpful. And machine generated replies is exactly what I got. Only a couple of days later a human reply arrived. At last, I was able to debug my program! Figure 6 shows a typical debugging session.

Figure 6. A typical debugging session.

Sadly, my debugging experience was less than exhilarating. Features that have become a de-facto standard in other IDEs—such as examining a variable's value by passing a mouse over it or stepping into runtime libraries' sources—are noticeably missing. I realize now how much I've been taking C++ BuilderX for granted!

SlickEdit Studio Needs Polishing
SlickEdit offers many promising features, like multilingual editors and a high degree of customizability. Unfortunately, in terms of human engineering, it's a disappointment. Not only does it confuse you with the dubious notion of perspectives, it also insists on doing things in the most unintuitive manner. Even worse, the cluttered-up interfaces and the excess Java baggage that keeps getting in your way are a royal annoyance. My estimate is that 60 percent of the menus and dialog boxes contain irrelevant options for most users. This product is therefore best described as a diamond in the rough—one that still needs extensive polishing. On the positive side, SlickEdit manages to provide a GUI wrapping on top of traditional command line products that have a well-established reputation. As such, GCC and GDB aficionados will benefit from the GUI facelift of their favorite products.

Danny Kalev is a system analyst and software engineer with 13 years of experience, specializing in C++ and object-oriented analysis and design. He is a member of the ANSI C++ standardization committee and the author of ANSI/ISO C++ Professional Programmer's Handbook (Que, 1999, ISBN: 0789720221). Reach him at dannykk@inter.net.il.
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