Help with this jumble of scripts is now at hand with NetObjects ScriptBuilder 3.0, an integrated development environment for creating and editing scripts. One word of caution: this productivity tool is for experienced developers and advanced webmasters, not non-technical beginners.
The editor is powerful enough to create Web pages with standard HTML tags and form elements. But for its lack of tools to create tables and framesets, it would have made an effective HTML editor as well.
Autoscripting cuts down repetitive typing considerably by expanding keywords automatically as you type the word and hit the space bar. I liked being able to define my own keyword expansions for this feature.
The feature that makes ScriptBuilder more than a mere code editor is the Toolbox on the left pane of the ScriptBuilder window. Comprising multiple tabbed panels, the Toolbox is a repository of reference material, code libraries, and script components. This last item, a NetObjects innovation, brings an object-oriented approach to scripting.
The Reference Panel consists of a rich set of online documentation regarding languages and technologies of interest to scripters. It's built with XML, so you can add your own documentation and custom tags to this library. The document structure allows locally stored pages or remote Web URLs as elements; however, I experienced some difficulty when using the Microsoft Active Server Page Reference. The XML document pointed to URLs that were incorrect or had been moved.
In addition, I found it odd that a Reference document on the XML structure and tags was not included, enabling me to use ScriptBuilder to create custom reference documents.
ScriptBuilder gives you two ways to reuse code, which is usually a difficult task because the scripts are embedded in HTML and scattered among various pages. The Script Library panel in the Toolbox gives you instant access to code snippets, which you can drag and drop into the editor window. You can add your own code snippets to those provided, and download more from the ScriptBuilder Web site.
However, I found the linear list of entries in the Script Library a bit cumbersome to use, with no way of hiding entries or reorganising them in a hierarchical way.
When adding or selecting a code component, the Component Inspector box pops up to let you set properties and events. Because the component's code is not inserted within the page source, you need to deploy it so ScriptBuilder can place the needed support files, along with the HTML page, on the target server. This convenient feature will allow advanced developers to create project-specific components for use by other script authors.
By bringing reference documentation, code reuse, and support for many scripting platforms to a single development environment, ScriptBuilder will find fans among developers coding dynamic sites and among webmasters presiding over their scripting Towers of Babel.
The Bottom Line
NetObjects ScriptBuilder 3.0
Pros: Support for many scripting languages and platforms; browser compatibility tools; script component creation tool; visual map of code structure; preview options; centralised script library.
Cons: Single-user tool; lack of project management features; large script libraries that cannot be reorganised for quick access; Perl scripts not supported by syntax checker.
Platforms: Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98.
Price: Available on application.
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