Review: PrimalCode 3.0

PrimalCode 3.0
$249
SAPIEN Technologies
Napa, California
(707) 252-8700
www.sapien.com

One thing that I didn't predict about .NET is the number of IDEs that would be developed to edit your .NET code. PrimalCode is such a beast, from SAPIEN, makers of the well-regarded PrimalScript scripting tool. They call this a code-oriented IDE -- which is another way to say that there aren't any visual designers here. Of course, everything in .NET is transparent in the source code. You certainly can build a Windows form or a Web form without a WYSIWYG designer, but developers familiar with Visual Studio .NET will probably find this jarring.

But this doesn't mean that PrimalCode is a toy environment. Rather, it's quite a heavy-duty environment that has more flexibility than VS .NET in some areas (and less in others). For example, you can create PSP, ASP, or JSP Web sites as easily as ASP.NET sites or C# class libraries (among many other possibilities). There are also, as you might expect from the company's heritage, good ways to manage script projects here.

You'll find good support for PrimalSense (pretty close to IntelliSense), code snippets, and tag completion here. The IDE includes a lot of extra tools as well, like an OLE class library browser, a WMI Wizard, and a macro recorder. There are also lots of ways to customize the editing environment. Source code control and flexible deployment options are also here, as well as support for Web services, Windows services, and control libraries. The entire disk footprint is under 10 MB as well.

I don't think PrimalCode is going to replace VS .NET for developers using the high-end VS .NET editions. But for developers who have to deal with a variety of projects, from scripting to traditional Web sites to ASP.NET (and who don't need to do heavy-duty work with Windows forms), it offers an interesting alternative. You can download a trial version if you want to take it for a spin yourself.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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