Aptana: The first Web 2.0 development environment

Even though I hadn’t really used it in a while, I’ve faithfully upgraded Dreamweaver with each new release. A few weeks ago I dusted it off, thinking that it’d be the perfect tool to start a new project I’m toying with.

Ooof. Dreamweaver has made progress over the years, but not enough. It’s slow, has a flaky UI that feels foreign on Windows and Mac OS, and (sparing you the details since they’re beside the point of this post) provides only weak support for the standards and technologies that modern, dynamic web sites depend on.

Enter Aptana. Aptana is an exciting new multi-platform web IDE, and it’s the first tool I’ve seen that could be the Firefox of web development. Why?

* Multi-platform support. Aptana supports Windows, Macintosh and Linux, plus is available as an Eclipse plug-in for good measure. It can do this because it’s written in Java, but I should note for all the J-haters that Aptana feels at least as fast and native as Dreamweaver.

* Markup support. Aptana not only “knows” XHTML, HTML and CSS, but it knows your target browsers better than you do. This means that it not only points out errors and warnings for your markup in realtime, but also provides live feedback on which browsers support that markup.

* JavaScript support. Core Language and DOM documentation is integrated directly into Aptana — no more scouring through reference books or websites to find the parameters. Code assist allows you to choose from available methods and properties as you type.

* Ajax framework support. One of the more exciting aspects of Aptana is its built-in support for popular Ajax and JavaScript frameworks, including [Dojo Toolkit][Dojo], [Yahoo! UI Library (YUI)][YUI], [Prototype][Prototype], [Scriptaculous][Scriptaculous], [MochiKit][MochiKit], [jQuery][jQuery], [AFLAX][AFLAX], and [Rico][Rico].

  • Document outline. An always-available document outline view shows CSS, XHTML and JavaScript, all in the same outline.

    * Realtime online help. Aptana features an online help system that pulls content directly from wiki-based community documentation, so it’s always live and up-to-date.

    * Extensibility. JavaScript “actions” do for Aptana what AppleScript does for enlightened Mac OS applications. You can use a library of built-in actions, create your own, and contribute generally-useful actions to the community.

    * FLOSS (because it’s good for you). Aptana is free/libre/open source software. I predict that a lot of smart people will be attracted to this important project.

    Aptana was founded in 2005 by Paul Colton, who also started Live Software. (Adobe now owns Live’s [JRun][JRun] product through its acquisition of Macromedia through its acquisition of Allaire through its acquisition of Live Software…whew!)

    * [PlaybackTime interview: Paul Colton, founder of Aptana][Paul Colton interview]
    * [Aptana][Aptana]
    * [Aptana TV][Aptana TV]

    [Aptana]: http://aptana.com/
    [Aptana TV]: http://aptana.tv/
    [AFLAX]: http://www.aflax.org/
    [Dojo]: http://dojotoolkit.org/
    [jQuery]: http://jquery.com/
    [MochiKit]: http://www.mochikit.com/
    [Prototype]: http://prototype.conio.net/
    [Rico]: http://openrico.org/
    [Scriptaculous]: http://script.aculo.us/
    [YUI]: http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/
    [JRun]: http://www.adobe.com/products/jrun/
    [Paul Colton interview]: http://playbacktime.com/2006/08/30/interview-paul-colton-founder-of-aptana-ajax-web20/