Web Development

Build Web applications with Aptana Studio

The Aptana Studio IDE allows a developer to easily organize the many disparate files in a Web application. The many features of the IDE allow you to easily build and debug your JavaScript code to ensure proper functionality.

A Web developer's choice of tools is often driven by the needs of the client and the project, but a developer's IDE is often a personal matter; after all, they spend the bulk of their time using this tool to build their applications. While .NET developers have limited choices, Web developers have a variety of options. This article focuses on one such offering: Aptana Studio.

Features

The Aptana Studio IDE is based on the Eclipse code base, but it focuses on Web development via JavaScript (vs. Eclipse's focus on Java). Like the Eclipse IDE, Aptana Studio organizes development work around a project. Once a new project is created, you may add one or more files. The default installation of Aptana Studio supports JavaScript, HTML, CSS, ScriptDoc, XML and plain text as well as others. Plug-ins are available for working with other file types including PHP, Ruby on Rails, Adobe AIR, and iPhone/iPod.

The Aptana Studio IDE includes standard features that most developers expect in their development tool. It provides a powerful interface for building Web applications. The following list provides a peek at some of these features:

  • Code assist: One of the best features of an IDE is the ability to help you with your coding. The code assist feature provides context-sensitive coding help to make sure your code is correct.
  • FTP: The ability to upload and download project files to and from a Web server makes it easy to work with code on a development or production server.
  • AJAX: AJAX development is a core feature of Aptana Studio. The installation includes many JavaScript libraries, such as Adobe Spry, Yahoo! YUI, JQuery, scriptaculous, and Dojo among others. With these libraries installed by default, you can begin coding AJAX applications in no time.
  • Debugging: A key piece of any IDE is a debugger. The freely available Community Edition of Aptana Studio provides a Firefox plug-in for JavaScript development, and the Professional Edition provides the same tool for Internet Explorer. With the debugger, you can easily set breakpoints and watch variables to get a better idea of what the code is actually doing.

Versions

Aptana Studio is developed and supported by the California-based company Aptana. The current version 1.0.0 is available as an Eclipse plug-in, as well as two standalone versions:

  • Community Edition: This is a freely available version of the IDE. It provides the core features of the product for building Web applications. It supports editing and debugging of Web applications using HTML, CSS, JavaScript and AJAX. Plug-ins are available for developing PHP and Ruby on Rails code.
  • Professional Edition: This is the commercial version of the IDE with a current price of $99. It includes the features in the Community Edition as well as additional features. Some of the extras include a JSON editor, viewing statistics via a reporting engine, secure FTP, a debugger extension for Internet Explorer, and full support from Aptana.

The edition you choose depends on your project needs and whether you want full product support. I find that the Community Edition meets most of the needs of my Web development projects.

How to get it

The Aptana Web site makes it easy to purchase a license for the Professional Edition of Aptana or download the freely available Community Edition of Aptana. The download is available as an executable or via a compressed file. The current version requires version 1.5 or later of the Java Runtime Environment. Downloads are available for Windows, OS X, and Linux.

Installation of the Aptana Studio IDE is as simple as running the executable or running the setup in the compression file. Once it is installed, you can get a closer look at the IDE and its many features.

Licensing

Aptana Studio 1.0.0 is available via a dual licensing agreement. The two licenses are open source GNU General Public License (GPL) and the Aptana Public License (APL). The GPL license offers the Aptana IDE free of charge, as long as usage adheres to the terms of the GPL license. The APL license is available for organizations that want to use the product for free and modify, integrate, and distribute it for personal or internal use only, without any redistribution requirements.

An impressive development option

Over the years, the market for Web development tools has exploded. Some of these tools are for particular development platforms like Visual Studio .NET for .NET development, but others like Aptana Studio 1.0.0 target more general Web development using standard technologies as well as others like PHP. I would recommend the IDE to fellow Web developers.

The Aptana Studio IDE allows a developer to easily organize the many disparate files in a Web application. The many features of the IDE allow you to easily build and debug your JavaScript code to ensure proper functionality. It provides all features that I'd expect from an IDE.

What tools do you use in your day-to-day Web development projects? Share your thoughts and experiences with the community by posting to the article discussion.

Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.

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About

Tony Patton has worn many hats over his 15+ years in the IT industry while witnessing many technologies come and go. He currently focuses on .NET and Web Development while trying to grasp the many facets of supporting such technologies in a productio...

8 comments
dustin
dustin

The version directly before the final version (my last version to use) would say that it saved a file and uploaded it but about 30% of the time would save a blank file and upload it and you would never know. Another 15% of the time you would save it and it looks fine but when you close Aptana it would re-save it as a blank file randomly. It costs my web design company some real headaches having to restore from a backup on numerous occasions. We stopped using it.

Blainy
Blainy

Very interesting article as always - Thanks Tony! I use Visual Studio .NET daily for all my coding purposes, javascript, AJAX, html, css, VB and/or C#. In work this is definately my preference. But at home I'm soon to install Sun's Solaris free OS for developers so keen to use full IDE at home thats free.. this will certainly go on my trial list - but you haven't mentioned its ability to use VB or C#??? Or can it not as Java based? Tried ASP.NET Maker free download but not enough control! Haven't discovered if can install VS.NET Express on Sun's OS as this would be great but presume Microsoft will not be allowing this. Maybe Aptana can help me. Thanks again!

Jaqui
Jaqui

they actually support windows, mac and LINUX. to bad it seems to default to that abused, misbegotten TABLE based layout. and really to bad that it is designed for creating javascripted [ stupidest thing to use, clientside scripting ] websites. oops, fatal error, it's written in java. makes it 100% USELESS ANY software company that insists on DESTROYING PERFORMANCE by using java can kiss my business goodbye. strike one, you are out in this respect. edited to add: sent in an email, subject feedback to Aptana's sales department, with the url to the blog entry. I don't hide my poor opinion of java and java based software from those offenders using it. Aptana could have used wxWidgets to have a single code base ALL os supported app done in the much faster performing C++, but they stuffed their heads up their butts and listened to the bull that says java is worth using.

Justin James
Justin James

I hate to say it, but stuff like that would make me wary of the whole product. J.Ja

billbolte.com
billbolte.com

No, it's not a .Net IDE. Mainly (x)HTML, CSS, Javascript with a plugin for a couple of other scripting languages (PHP, RoR...)...

dlporter
dlporter

Hey, why don't you tell us what you really think! ;)

EM1109
EM1109

DB Support? What is supported and how easy to implement? SQL 2005 would be nice.