The Aptana IDE for Ajax Development
Initially, I attempted the install with the “zip (no installer)” download, which is about 43MB without the Java runtime. I extracted the zip file and ran the Aptana script with the Sun JDK 1.5.0 and 1.6.0, but in both cases, the IDE refused to start.
So, I changed to the “BIN Plus Java Runtime 1.4.2” download, which is 74MB, and the Aptana_IDE_Setup.bin file refused to execute with a libc.so.6 error. After searching the forums, I found that you can resolve this issue with a little use of sed (see Resources). Once the graphical installer was complete, Aptana still refused to start with an “XPCOM error -2147467262”.
The fix for the XPCOM issue is to install Mozilla and export MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME to Mozilla's base path. Unfortunately, Mozilla is no longer in Fedora Linux. I found that with the BIN plus runtime installation, after a short period of time, the JVM would SEGV with “Too many open files”.
A much better method is to install Eclipse from your distribution's repository and then install the Aptana plugin.
Selecting debug from the IDE caused Firefox to run and installed the extension so that Aptana could talk to Firefox. With this combination, you can set breakpoints in Aptana, run debug from the IDE (which loads the page into Firefox), and when a breakpoint is hit in Firefox, Aptana springs to the front at that breakpoint. The integration of the IDE with Firefox works well; however, a few times when Aptana became slow, I had to restart Eclipse to recover. This may be a result of my configuration and not Aptana, although I was running Fedora Eclipse with only the Aptana plugin and a bare-bones Firefox setup.
As far as Ajax support, an Ajax Monitor is available that shows the requests and responses issued. Unfortunately, the preview for an HTML file you are editing most surely will bomb out with a permission-denied error if you attempt Ajax with XMLHttpRequest from it. If you use the debug mode in Aptana to start an external instance of Firefox, XMLHttpRequest likely will not work as well. The Firefox instance that Aptana starts will load a URL, such as http://127.0.0.1:8001/foo.htm, which is served by a Web server that Aptana includes. Assume there is an XMLHttpRequest for a simple path, such as /cgi-bin/foo.pl, to make sure you request from the originating server and avoid the permission-denied error from the browser. Then, the browser will ask the Web server running in Aptana on port 8001 for this resource and fail. It would be nice if you could configure the Aptana Web server to proxy some requests to a server and return the result back to the Firefox instance you are using for debugging. If, for example, you change the URL in the Firefox instance that Aptana started for debugging to a version of the site served by Apache, such as http://localhost/foo/myapp.html, your Ajax requests might function properly, but Aptana breakpoints no longer will work.
The IDE includes support for synchronizing files with FTP or SFTP servers, but rsync support is currently missing.
The Aptana screen casts page is a good resource for quickly seeing Aptana's features and how to use them; however, some of the presentations may be less useful for people who are familiar with IDEs in general.
The use of Eclipse can be a polarizing factor.
Using Aptana breakpoint debugging with Ajax XMLHttpRequest calls is not simple.
Sometimes things become a little slow, even on grunty hardware.
Debug mode sometimes requires that you restart Aptana to recover.
Aptana Screen Casts: www.aptana.tv
Fedora Eclipse: sources.redhat.com/eclipse
Linux Installation Issues: www.aptana.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=134
Installing Aptana on Linux: www.aptana.com/docs/index.php/Installing_Aptana_on_Linux
Mozilla Issue and Aptana: www.aptana.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=169&view=next
Using the Ajax Monitor View (although there's no information about getting around the permission problem for Aptana Web server sessions): www.aptana.com/docs/index.php/Using_the_AJAX_Monitor_View
Interview with Paul Colton, Founder of Aptana: playbacktime.com/2006/08/30/interview-paul-colton-founder-of-aptana-ajax-web20
Ben Martin has been working on filesystems for more than ten years. He is currently working toward a PhD on combining Semantic Filesystems with Formal Concept Analysis to improve human-filesystem interaction.