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7/30/2004
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Scripting Language Tools Get Upgrades

ActiveState and Zend Technologies both have updated their tools for open-source scripting languages.

Scripting languages such as Perl or Tcl frequently are what make the disparate parts of corporate Web sites work together. Two companies that supply tools for open-source scripting languages upgraded their offerings this month.

ActiveState, a unit of Sophos Plc, the anti-spam software company, upgraded its Komodo 3.0 integrated development environment to let users work with either Perl, Tcl, Python, or PHP, the latter being the language that has passed Microsoft's Active Server Pages as most frequently found on Web sites.

Komodo 3.0 lets users browse directly through procedures in code libraries in any of the languages instead of searching through documentation on what the library contains, says Komodo user Jeff Rankin, lead Web application developer at O'Neil & Associates Inc., creator of documentation for heavy equipment training and operation.

Komodo 3.0 also lets developers browse through the properties or characteristics of scripting language objects--the software modules that perform specific functions on a site. The tool contains a new debugger that works the same way in all the languages, instead of a different way for each, says David Ascher, ActiveState's chief technology officer. The debugger can search for glitches in a client portion of a program and in the server portion at the same time. Highlighting a bug in one area frequently explains why something is going wrong in the other, Ascher says.

The debugging changes are made possible by a new debugging protocol, DBGP, developed by ActiveState, that other tool users may adopt because it's been made open source, he says.

Rankin said he and other programmers at O'Neil liked Komodo's extensibility. His company frequently develops code to be used on Web sites that require meeting the guidelines of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Programmers at O'Neil have written extensions to Komodo that allow it to automatically convert HTML tags into tagging that meets the guidelines.

"We have lots of government clients. They require ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliance," he notes. The extensions, written in JavaScript--which is recognized by Komodo--save Web-site builders time by automatically translating regular HTML tags into a format that meets the guidelines.

Komodo is priced at $295 and is available immediately; a version for educational or non-profit use is available for $29.50.

Zend Technologies Inc., originators of the popular PHP scripting language, upgraded its Zend Studio 3.5 integrated development environment for PHP to support the latest version of the language (PHP 5.0 came out July 19). It contains code-analysis capabilities to aid PHP programmers in use of correct syntax and structure. Mistaken syntax is highlighted by the tool, much as Microsoft's Word underscores a misspelled word, says Andi Gutmans, VP of technology.

The tool includes a new online help system that directs developers to online resources for guidance through tough development issues. It's priced at $249 and available immediately.

Zend was profitable last year, according to company president Doron Gerstel, and just received $8 million in venture-capital funding to market its integrated development environment.

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