Visual SlickEdit 5.0

Customization possibilities are extensive.
Tagging and Tag Files

Tagging of source and header files is an important part of SlickEdit's functionality. Emacs and vi users will be familiar with ctags and etags, two separate utilities for generating tag files. Tagging is useful in any programming project with more than a few source files, as it helps the programmer keep track of just where functions and classes are defined. Usage of tag files in SlickEdit is similar to that in Emacs; a keystroke summons a window with the tag reference. SlickEdit's approach is easier to learn for those unfamiliar with Emacs, vi and UNIX in general. As with other UNIX-like functionality in SlickEdit, instead of using separate command-line utilities with their own peculiar syntaxes, etc., the tagging utilities are built into the editor and are accessed via dialog boxes.

The first time a new user starts up SlickEdit, the tag-generation utility attempts to build a tag-file database of source-code files in the current directory, if any, and of general compiler header files. In my case, the header files in /usr/X11R6/include and /usr/include, as well as the Linux kernel source header files, were all catalogued. Tag files are used by the Class Browser, allowing the user to quickly find classes, functions, variables and other code constructs referred to in source files.

SlickEdit's tagging facility is an impressive piece of work, effectively bringing an esoteric and somewhat abstruse but enormously useful facility to a broader programming community.


Bucking the lamentable software industry trend toward less documentation, SlickEdit is bundled with a three-hundred-page hard-copy manual, and the same material is also available on-line through an integrated help facility. This documentation is clearly written and well-illustrated. A complete reference to the Slick-C language is included, a helpful feature for project leaders with a desire to tailor the editor to the work at hand.

Figure 3.

Free vs. Commercial

At $295.00 per copy ($99.00 for an upgrade from a previous version), prospective users might wonder if the program is worth that much, considering so many free, high-quality editors are available for Linux, each with active and responsive developer and user communities. The answer is: it all depends on how much time you have available for learning to use an editor effectively, and even more important, how much time and inclination your co-workers have to spare. Nearly all of the functionality of SlickEdit can be duplicated by the various versions of Emacs or vi, but only at the expense of time for tracking down the necessary packages and configurations. This may be second nature for programmers imbued with the UNIX philosophy, but what about that co-worker who is more accustomed to Visual C++? SlickEdit provides a sort of neutral ground, an environment which is acceptable to programmers from a variety of backgrounds. The cross-platform nature of this editor is one of its strongest selling points, especially significant now that more and more commercial software is being released in versions for a variety of operating systems.

SlickEdit probably won't appeal to many solitary or academic programmers; its niche is corporate programming environments, where a common style of code and project files can increase productivity.

Figure 4.


MicroEdge maintains a web site for SlickEdit users and prospective customers at Patches for registered users are available there, as well as macros and tips from other users and the MicroEdge developers.


SlickEdit is a mature Linux product; this isn't one of those Windows applications quickly ported to Linux. MicroEdge has been supporting Linux for several years now, and this is evident in the stability and usability of the editor. While SlickEdit may be priced out of the range of the typical Linux home user, the price is not out of line for a product intended for business use. The advantages for group usage, including sharing files, projects and configurations, along with excellent support from MicroEdge, make the product a good value in its intended market.