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Aptana: A Smooth Open Source JavaScript IDE


Friday, July 28, 2006; 06:24 AM

Aptana is a free JavaScript-focused development environment (IDE) for building dynamic web applications. The first public beta of the open source framework was released on July 14 by a small web development startup of the same name.

Selecting which libraries make up the JavaScript coding environment in Aptana.

Aptana includes a number of features that make it a quality tool for web development. It has full "code assist" for JavaScript funtions,  as well as any included JavaScript code.  Additionally it outlines the code structure of JS, HTML and CSS, and provides error notifications and code validation for all three languages. Finally, Aptana is  customizable and its functionality can be extended with the inclusion of external JavaScript.

Aptana can be integrated into the Eclipse development platform, or used as a standalone IDE.  In the latter case, it requires version 1.4.2 of Java. Installation packages are available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Lunux. Some of the standalone installations come conveniently bundled with Java Runtime Environment.

The project's website at http://www.aptana.com/ offers a long list of tutorials on working with the framework, including some on developing AJAX applications.  There is also a developer forum, as well as a bug tracking database.

Another website, http://www.aptana.tv/ offers access to informative webcasts about working with Aptana.  Currently there are 12 webcasts online, covering topics from using the framework's basic features to integrating Aptana with the Dojo, MochiKit and Yahoo UI libraries. 

The project seems to be going so well some people on the Aptana forums have expressed doubt as to whether this is truly an open source project (indeed, the source has not been released yet).  At a forum thread, entitled "free and open - are you sure," someone asked the following questions:

    " 1. professional looking site
      2. no links to sourceforge
      3. a lot of documentation
     4. nice image material
     -> so..., where are you?
     -> why are you doing this?

 Aptana's answer:

     "1) Thank you.
      2) We're planning on hosting our own source control.
      3) We think documentation is important.
      4) We're flattered.

We're based in San Diego. We've been using a slew of web IDEs over the years, we have a lot of ideas about the perfect web development environment that no one has bothered to try to implement. We figured now was a great time to make it happen."

The Aptana team has posted a number of planned improvements, including support for PHP.  The latest version is beta .31 (July 22).


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