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Is there an alternative text-editor besides Netbeans for the Mac?

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A member is having a problem installing NetBeans on her MAC. She made several tries but she still gets an error message. We discuss potential solutions to her installation problem, we talk about a couple of other Mac based code editors (Taco & Coda) and we discuss the importance of error checking and syntax highlighting.

Select the link below to watch a high definition version of this video

[S3VIDEO file=’public/liveanswers/LA1-23-11b-alternative-text-editor-netbeans.mp4′ bgimage=’’ displaymode=’overlay’]

Video Transcript

Rick: It looks to me like Sherri may in fact have another question. So Sherri, I am going to unmute your microphone so that you can ask the question. Sherri are you… can you hear me?

Sherri: Yes, I can hear you and thank you so much for researching and showing an example on how to do the read more tag, different details, different options. Thank you.

Rick: You’re welcome. Now, would you do me the favor of either speaking louder or talking closer to your microphone or something like that because you’re very faint.

Sherri: Can you hear me better now?

Rick: I can, yes.

Sherri: Okay great. Let me know if I’m too quiet again.

Rick: Okay.

Sherri: So my question was about putting the dynamic content gallery in the header and I had asked you a question about that in the forum. And so I’ve been exploring it all weekend and I’m pretty stuck. And part of my question also is I saw that there are other Mac users on the forum as well. I tried to download Netbeans and after 45 minutes, it was still downloading and I finally gave up twice. And so do I really need to have something like that or… and you may not know if there’s something you know, that’s Mac-friendly to be used.

Rick: Well, there are other text editors that are Mac-friendly and although I really want to get to the bottom of whether or not we can make Netbeans work on the Mac, Netbeans is supposed to work fine on the Mac. But there has been that question from one member saying that they weren’t able to make it work for one reason or another. That’s got to be completely different though than the whole downloading question.

Sherri: Okay.

Rick: You know, if you can’t… if you weren’t able to successfully complete the download, it could be that there was some connection problem you know, that day when you were doing that. Netbeans itself is not really the critical thing, you know. I recommend Netbeans because it’s free and because it has a very sophisticated ability to check your code to make sure you’re not making errors or to identify where you are making errors. And that generally you know, I would say that probably 75% of the code related questions I answer have to do with syntax errors that Netbeans will show you.

Now, lots of those answers… those questions come from people who aren’t using any kind of a code-checking text editor and so they don’t see the error themselves and it looks just fine to them. And there’ll be times that it’s because people don’t know you know, don’t realize that the little red squiggly line, the little red thing at the end of the sentence means that you know, that there’s an error there that they need to fix. But it’s not the only error checking code editor and so I’ll do a little bit of research here and see if I can you know, come up with another suggestion. But when you are editing php, in particular, php but also in css you know, you really… you need some help trying to find where you’ve made a mistake. And the only real source of help for that is something that tells you right then and there that you’re making a mistake. Otherwise, you know, you have to rely on somebody like me to come look at your code and say, “Well, you’ve made a mistake here.” Or you know, this supposed to be a curly brace, not a bracket or you know, whatever. And it’s those little things that hang people up, it’s those little things that hang me up you know.

And so it’s… I mean, that’s why I recommend Netbeans because it’s both free and very powerful. But you know, I know that there are other things out there as well and I do know that you know, I told somebody that Dreamweaver wouldn’t really work for her and that’s because I knew she had Dreamweaver 4. If you have you know, Dreamweaver CS5, it does have reasonably decent php error checking and obviously, those Adobe products were originally built for the Mac so they work just fine on the Mac but they’re also very expensive. But I’ll do a little research and see if we can find something else. I would also though suggest that you try downloading it again and if you still have a problem with it you know, try to see what the source of that problem is. Because you know, I don’t know if the download hangs up at some point you know, that’s something you could probably repeat and then maybe then we can figure out a solution to that. It could also be though that maybe you know, the version is for a Mac OS 10 and you’re working on Mac OS 9. Not that I know anything about either of those but you know, and so it won’t work on the OS version you’re using and I don’t know that for sure. Do you happen to remember why it failed?

Sherri: You know, it just kept going and going and I tried it twice today and it was at about 45 minutes and it just wasn’t going forward.

Rick: Did you download the php version only or did you download the whole thing?

Sherri: Well, the first time I tried the whole thing and then I decided the second time to just try the php because it was much smaller.

Rick: Right, exactly.

Sherri: Yeah. And then when I was Googling around, people were saying sometimes there are problems with Macs because something with java? Does that make sense with java?

Rick: Yeah.

Sherri: I’m so not knowledgeable about this.

Rick: No, right it does require java in order to work because it is a java-based program.

Sherri: And it said something about downloading that first but I don’t know. I saw that afterwards and then I downloaded…I went on the Apple site and there was something about a Taco HTML editor for Macs because I thought well, if it was more Mac-focused but it doesn’t look like it’s an IDE and again, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I’m just trying too hard.

Rick: You know, the IDE is really a professional tool and it’s a very nice tool but there are error-checking text editors that are not IDEs. So did you say Taco?

Sherri: Taco, yeah. It’s apparently one of the newest HTML editors.

Rick: Yeah, but you’re not going to have much HTML editing and that’s not really the tricky part, right? The tricky part is php.

Sherri: It has something about php but I don’t know if it’s the right thing. It was free 30-day trial so…

Rick: I see. Okay, let’s just look at for Mac php editors.

Sherri: I saw a Komodo, Coda, TextMate… I had a whole list.

Rick: Okay, best php editors. You know, I will… before I make a recommendation then, I’ll do a little bit of research and see if there is… see if I can make a suggestion about another version because there’s an awful lot of stuff here that you… I mean, what you really… the sort of in the ideal world, what you’d get is a… an IDE knows everything there is to know about the program that you’re working on. So if you have WordPress set up on your local machine as a project inside of Netbeans then Netbeans knows what every function that WordPress calls does and what every variable it calls does. And you know, its knowledge is not restricted to the file that you are editing at the moment.

So if you try to name a function incorrectly that is, if you name a function something that’s already been named that, it’ll catch it and tell you. And if you need to understand what on earth is this function doing you know, you can just type the name of that function and it’ll show you where it’s located. It’ll tell you what variables it takes and if you don’t know css, it has a css style builder where you know, you can just check off the items you want to show up on your css style and it just enters that code for you. And so those are things that you know, part of the IDE that are not necessarily part of you know, just a plain text editor that usually only knows what’s in a given file. And it can only really check syntax, you can’t check relationships.

Sherri: That helps me understand the difference.

Rick: Yeah. But I’ll be able to research for you. I don’t really know what the right answer is. If Netbeans is not a good solution for you on your Mac then I’ll do a little research before I come up with another solution.

Sherri: I’ll be interested…sounds like someone else with a Mac had a problem too so it’d be great to have a different solution.

Rick: So tomorrow, try downloading the php version only again. You don’t need any of the rest of the stuff. It’s way too big, you know. There’s just all kinds of stuff there that isn’t going to give you any good ever.

Sherri: That’s what I decided also.

Rick: Yeah, so the php version does php, HTML, css, and javascript which is everything you would ever work on.

Sherri: Okay.

Rick: So you know, I think you’d find that that would be good enough.

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