A Programmer's Editor Shootout
Written by Carsten Whimster
Preditor 3.0 is a PM programmer's editor which comes with both OS/2 and Windows 95 and NT versions right in the box.
Packaging and Installation
The packaging for Preditor includes a top-opening box-board box, a thick and thorough manual, an envelope with Product and Registration Information, and 5 3.5" floppies, 2 of which hold the OS/2 version, the other 3 of which hold the Windows versions.
Installation was relatively easy, although once when I lost my config.sys, I had to remove and completely reinstall it to get it to work quite right again. This was easy enough however. It does modify the CONFIG.SYS, which I am not too crazy about, but then many programs do. The installation screen is large and dominates the screen, which is a nuisance. Small dialogs with a little splash box would have been nicer.
Here is a screen shot of the main window:
Preditor has many attractive features, the more important of which I have tried to list below:
I spent some time trying to get syntax colouring working with HTML, but was unsuccessful until I opened the manual. Once I found the spot, I had the colours the way I want them within 5 minutes. The customization dialogs are not terribly intuitive the first time, but once you learn them, they are easy, powerful and make a lot of sense.
Unlike Visual SlickEdit, there are no multiple clipboards, but also unlike Visual SlickEdit, I was able to cut-n-paste from Netscape into Preditor.
Preditor does not seem to come with file merging or difference display as a feature.
Searching and replacing are very fast in Preditor. When searching, you will be brought to the status line to type in your search string (which can use regular expressions, if enabled). If replacing, you will get the obligatory dialog to type strings into. Some of the match group characters are a little unstandard, but they are well documented, so this is just a question of noticing that they didn't work quite right the first time, looking it up, and then using the characters properly the next time.
Preditor has a few little bugs that crop up every once in a while, but this has never stopped me, and I haven't felt compelled to contact CompuWare for any of them yet. In general, the product is very solid, and the interface is very clean. Every once in a while, I pressed F1 only to receive the error "Bad Help Key". One such place is in the "Create Project" dialog, where I pressed it on the "Configuration file name" field. This is annoying, of course, but with a decent manual as backup, it was not a show-stopper. Nonetheless, I managed to set up a quick Java project, with a compilation option in about 3 or 4 minutes. There were lots of extra configuration options which I didn't get to or need, but for simple projects, and Java programming, Preditor handles it quite well and easily.
Like Visual SlickEdit, Preditor has the great ability to indent and outdent text with Tab and Shift-Tab keystrokes. Just high-light the lines you want indented, press Tab, and presto, all the lines move in. This feature makes quick work of formatting an existing code file.
The multidirectory and file search and replace function is *very* fast, and can recurse into subdirectories to replace strings. Of course, if you do a multi-file search and replace on files that are not in the buffers, you will lose the ability to undo changes, so be careful!
Preditor 3.0 is a very solid editor with a solid feature set. It doesn't have quite as many features as SlickEdit does, but then it is only half the price. One feature that I did miss was some kind of file compare and merge feature. The cross-platform ability of Preditor is currently limited to OS/2 and Windows, but as everyone knows, this will probably cover 95% of all situations in the real world. There is the odd little buglet, but the overall feel is rock solid. The interface is well designed and slick, and the speed is top-notch.
If the few bugs were fixed, the help files updated and the file merge added, I would give Preditor a prefect score, but today it earns just slightly less.
Overall Rating: 4 1/2 of 5.
Preditor can be ordered from the Compuware web site, as well as many of the larger OS/2 software outlets.