When I received the Code Fusion package, I was quite excited to dive into what Cygnus calls, “The most productive, highest-performing Integrated Development Environment for Linux.” The packaging was professional, the manual hefty, and the software promised to be quite powerful. From a quick glance at manual and interface, it looked as though Code Fusion would have a steeper learning curve than its competition. Would it be worth the effort? Here’s what I found out.

Code Fusion is a development environment for C, C++, and Java based on the GnuPro toolkit. Supporting all the major Linux distributions (including Red Hat, SuSE, and Caldera), Code Fusion demands more system than its competition (Visual SlickEdit). In comparison to VSE’s minimal requirements (486DX, 32 MB memory, 20 MB hard disk space), Code Fusion demands a Pentium class processor, 32 MB memory (64 recommended), and 200 MB hard disk space.

An IDE’s purpose is to free the developer from the confusion of having to sort through myriad source files and dependencies. A good IDE should strive to work as effortlessly and transparently as possible, allowing the developer to focus on code instead of on the coding environment.

The installation of Code Fusion is fairly straightforward. Simply insert the CD, mount the CD-ROM cd to the /mnt/cdrom directory, and type (as root) ./install-gui, which will begin the Graphical Installation mode. The only possible hitch in the installation process is setting certain environment variables, given certain situations, such as: PATH environment (allowing the command to invoke the Code Fusion application to be global), the LD_PRELOAD (mismatching different libgcc libraries loaded for execution), and the LD_LIBRARY_PATH (ensure that the correct libraries are used in Code Fusion).

The tools themselves
Code Fusion centers its interface around projects but focuses its primary strength on the Source-Navigator. The Source-Navigator is a tool that aids a developer in viewing the overall picture of larger application development. This particular tool’s strength is really spotlighted within a large project. Within a larger developmental project, a developer can view, in its entirety, the scope of dependencies through the project. All classes, all methods, and all functions are given relational structure within the Source-Navigator, making it as simple as double-clicking a particular class or function to view its relationships.

This tool alone makes Code Fusion stand out among the crowd of its peers.

But Cygnus did not just create a tool that helps the programmer visualize a larger project. Code Fusion has power underneath the pretty pictures. One of the biggest debates within the Linux development community is over which editor is best. Typically, opinion is divided into two camps: Emacs and vi. The majority of Linux developers use one or the other (never both) and they’re stubborn and slow to change. Code Fusion has brought to Linux a solid, stable editor that might change that. With many similarities to its competition, Code Fusion’s editor has the look and feel of a Microsoft Visual C++ editor or a Visual SlickEdit editor. The drop-down menus offer plenty of useful options, and the color coding and indenting is exactly what you expect to find in any solid developers’ editor.

No, you will not find the awe-inspiring customization you will find in either Emacs or vi, but you will find simplicity and strength and solid integration in the various Code Fusion tools. And no, Code Fusion’s text editor will not win any awards, but it doesn’t have to. When a developer can have a solid editor integrated into a sound and structured set of tools—developed specifically for the task at hand—that product warrants a second, hard look. Code Fusion is just that: Sound, stable, and powerful.

Who’s it for?
So, who would benefit from Cygnus’ Code Fusion? Anyone serious about developing applications for the Linux platform and anyone keen on the standard gcc/gdb toolkit who wants their console and GUI in a well-meshed, stable environment.

Cygnus’ Code Fusion is a powerful beast, hardly rivaled in its field. It will bring out the most productive work from developers, once they’ve learned their way around the interface, and it should very quickly become a strong rival of Microsoft’s development tools.

You can purchase Code Fusion directly from Cygnus for $299.99.