Source Insight develops code for less

Source Insight develops code for less

In today's code development environment, projects often span multiple platforms, languages, and even geographical boundaries. Because of the many challenges of managing people throughout the code-development process, finding the right program to facilitate this work is well worth the effort and cost.

Thanks to recent improvements in source-code editors such as Source Insight from Source Dynamics, developers working in Windows who have yet to standardise on an IDE (integrated development environment) have one more viable option, and a relatively low cost one at that.

In addition to being a highly intuitive programming editor complete with syntax highlighting and extensive customisation capabilities, Source Insight goes one step further by including team-development and source-code control capabilities. Although lacking a few key features, such as debugging support and built-in compiler support that would classify the solution as a full-blown IDE, Source Insight is best described as a source-code editor with enhancements for C/C++ and Java support.

Competing in a field littered with competition, Source Insight fares reasonably well against its worthy opponents, including CodeWrite from StarBase Corporation and Visual SlickEdit from MicroEdge, although the latter also works on platforms other than Windows.

One of the things we found that sets Source Insight apart from many other such applications is the fact that it parses the source code as you type, automatically generating and maintaining a database of symbolic information. The information collected is then used for the presentation of contextual information, such as lists of defines, symbols, enumerations, functions, and so on in separate windows, from which the user can apply control over and even jump to the specific locations \#209, a feature we found very useful.

In future versions, we would like to see support for platforms other than Windows. In all, we found Source Insight to be a solid code-editing solution, and it easily earned a score of 4- stars.

A host of new features

Whether you're a new user of the Source Insight or are simply considering an upgrade, a quick test drive of the product (available for a free trial on the Web) is in order, as much has been added and changed from previous versions.

New features include built-in language parsing and display support for a variety of programming languages, including Perle, Visual Basic, JavaScript, HTML, and C#, in addition to its continued support of Java and C/C++. For the C++ developer, a ton of features have been added, including support for class and function templates, name spaces, and nested classes and structures.

This release also boasts substantial improvements in the areas of editing and display. On top of enhanced window docking, customisable fonts and colours for all windows, and dialogue-box position memory, this release also comes with the capability of preserving its undo and change history across save operations.

From a code browsing and analysis perspective, Source Insight has also added a new window to the interface, aptly named the Relation Window, from which users can view automatically updating dynamic call trees, class trees, and reference trees.

Because the tool caters to the Microsoft developer, it was no surprise to us that this release also sported a few new Windows 2000 features, including semitransparent windows (used for the floating-tool windows), as well as support for Terminal Server sessions. Should you find the need to make use of external compilers, make files, filters, or even different source-code control systems, you'll be pleased to know that the solution enables this as well through the use of custom commands.

The cost and system requirements of Source Insight are remarkably low. At $US249 per user or upgrades for $US99, Source Insight is one of the more inexpensive solutions on the market.

Also, at a time when old hardware often still dominates the code development shop, we were pleased to find that the solution's modest requirements necessitated simply a Pentium PC with 64MB of memory. For those who download the fully functional trial version, a mere 1.5MB is all that stands between you and the installation, and with the editor fully installed, it drops anchor at merely 4MB.

In all, the low cost and light system requirements combined with the highly customisable features and intuitive interface make Source Insight a competitive solution for Windows-based source-code development.the bottom lineSource Insight 3.0Busin-ess Case: With its low cost, its powerful customisation capabilities, as well as its intuitive and highly useable interface, Source Insight is sure to please both the budget's gatekeeper and the user.

Techn-ology Case: Source Insight will fit easily into your current code development environment, thanks to its capability of using external compilers, files, filters, and even different source control systems through the use of custom commands.

Pros:-l Low costl Highly customisablel Strong language supportl Intuitive and easy to useCons-:l Limited to Windows workstationsPlatfo-rms: Windows 95, 98, Windows NT 4.0 (SP 3+), Windows Me, and Windows 2000 (Professional or Server).

Price-: -$US249 per user; upgrades $US99. More information available from the company Web

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