PerlWiz - Introduction

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Purpose of PerlWiz

PerlWiz is an Integrated Development Environment for developing applications using the ActiveState ActivePerl tools on a computer running Microsoft™ Windows.

Its purpose is to make the creation and maintenance of Perl-based programs easier by giving easy access to useful programming tools from a single environment.

PerlWiz combines a full-featured Text Editor to type in and edit your programs, together with tools for checking the program will run correctly, and also tools to see how the results of the program will look in a web browser, if you are using Perl to develop web-based tools. You don't even need a web server to test your HTML forms and programs that rely on environment variables - you can either simulate form field submission, or test your pages live using the inbuilt immediately available web server.

The Text editor can be used to edit Perl programs, HTML documents, SQL Scripts, PHP Scripts, Batch Files, or indeed any other text-based document. These can be previewed in the web browser on-the-fly to see how they will look.

There are easy-to-use debugging tools such as syntax checking, breakpoints, execute to breakpoints, step through code, interrogate variables, and terminate the script.

Great for a learning environment, PerlWiz copes with input from <STDIN> to allow you to interactively type text into the results page to provide data as though working from the command line, but all in the comfort of a Windows-based environment. 

PerlWiz also integrates with MySQL™ database server, widely used by Internet Service Providers, to automatically start and stop a local server on demand, execute scripts within PerlWiz to see the results in an instant, and of course link to MySQL from your Perl programs.

There are also various extra tools for making the task of writing Perl programs more fluid, and easier to maintain, with facilities such as the ability to change your program, and see the effect on either your test environment, or even ON YOUR LIVE WEB SITE at the click of a button. There are also editing facilities to aid the process of creating Perl and HTML documents.

PerlWiz includes support for editing, checking and executing PHP programs too, so that you can embed Perl-like commands within HTML documents and have the output of those statements turned into part of the page.

PerlWiz can be project-based, which means that you can store your entire project and its various settings within a single file - including the source code, if you wish!  This makes it easy to transport your projects between computers.

You can also set up a repository of different versions, and up to ten backups per file, either within the same directory as your originals, or in a directory that reflects the different versions of your program. It is also very easy to restore from these files.

PerlWiz includes a collection of code snippets that can be maintained and searched in a tree-structure, and which can be accessed by simply typing a keyword and pressing the F6 key, or by navigating using the menus. Standard snippets can be set up for different file types - e.g. one for Perl programs, one for HTML documents, one for new blank files etc.  PerlWiz comes with a set of useful snippets you can use including both Perl and HTML snippets.

The project organizer allows you to see what files you have in your project and organize what order they appear in, whether they appear in the editor, whether to include them as part of the project file, and the details of how to FTP each one to your web site. You can even select several files and make changes to all of them at the same time.

The module installer facility will give you an easy way to browse for Perl modules written by others, and install / update them direct from the internet, complete with any accompanying POD documentation (as HTML). N.B. This facility does not work with ActivePerl 5.8.* due to a change in how this version outputs data.

You can be sure that when you use PerlWiz, you will be using a product that is under continual development and review.  Your views are incorporated into our product release plans, together with our ongoing development plan, which aims to give new releases at least once every four months (excluding any interim bug-fix releases).

You can keep up-to-date with product releases from within PerlWiz too - the Autoupdate feature will check for new versions, download, and even automatically install them if you wish - that way you can always keep up-to-date with the latest that PerlWiz has to offer. 

Feature List

The following is a list of the main PerlWiz features split into categories:-

Licensing
  • Shareware - Try before you buy
  • 30 day trial period - no feature restrictions
  • Free updates and on-line support for a year. Relicensing after this time at massively reduced rates.
  • Multiple licensing at very reasonable rates
Editor
  • Tabbed multi-page editor - edit several different text-based files simultaneously - e.g. Perl programs, HTML documents, text files etc.
  • Optional projects - either ignore projects and use the 'default' or work with your own project for each application, or a view on each application you are working on.
  • Syntax Highlighting for Perl programs and HTML documents
  • Multi-level grouped undo / redo with clear option
  • Up to ten easy-access bookmarks per file (saved with project)
  • Search & Replace options - word history can be optionally saved with project
  • Auto-highlighting bracket-match facility, together with "block nesting depth" indicator
  • Quick 'Goto' facility to go to a specific line number
  • Customize colo[u]rs for Perl / HTML / PHP / Batch / Other files separately. Use and customize colo[u]r schemes
  • Customization options including: Show line numbers, show special characters (new lines, spaces etc.), show status bar, auto-indent, convert tabs to spaces, trim trailing spaces, smart tabs, smart tab delete, tab key indentation, tab size, highlight cursor line, group undo, drag & drop editing etc.
  • Menu / Toolbar can have the look-and-feel of an XP application even on non-XP computers
  • Clipboard functions include Copy Line and Copy All features
  • Convert highlighted blocks of text to upper, lower, title, or word case. Auto-senses sentences.
  • Indent / Unindent blocks of code quickly and easily
Debugging
  • Utilises popular ActivePerl tools for checking / execution
  • Syntax checker to make sure your Perl / PHP programs are structured correctly
  • Execute to show results as text (with HTML syntax highlighting where appropriate) for Perl, PHP, Batch and SQL
  • Execute to show results in browser
  • Execute to show results on web server (automatically pre-uploads changes where necessary) - Perl, HTML & PHP
  • Set breakpoints (stored with project) to halt execution at specific points
  • Step through program line-by-line from breakpoints or start of program
  • See all variables when break into program / step through program
  • Variable tooltips - hover cursor over variable name in Perl program to see its contents
  • Allow input from <STDIN> keyboard input from the results page
  • Execute using breakpoints / continue execution from breakpoint function
  • Terminate execution in case program hangs for any reason (all languages)
  • Specify Form Fields to simulate entering data into a form without requiring a separate web server (Perl/PHP)
  • Specify Environment variables to be made available to Perl/PHP programs to simulate working environment. Use defaults for whole project, and override for specific files where necessary
  • Utilise Perl taint mode checking for security purposes, and set compiler warning level for whole project
  • Warning / Error message window lists results of a syntax check / program execution. Double-click on a message to jump to the location in the editor where the problem occurred.
  • Logging facility to log system / project information, and any errors, as well as low-level PerlWiz-related operations for a timed interval (for support purposes).
Files
  • Usual New File / Save / Save All / Save As / Open / Close options
  • You do not even have to specify a filename to compile your programs - these can even be saved with your projects as a 'scratchpad' area for quick and dirty testing!
  • Automatically keep up to ten back-ups for each document (i.e. last ten saves)
  • Optionally store back-ups in a separate directory structure to save files and backups for different versions of a project
  • Restore back-ups quickly and easily with a couple of clicks
  • Save source files (e.g. Perl / HTML files) compressed inside project for easy one-file transportation via floppy disk / USB device / Email attachment - automatically decompressed and saved into correct location when project opened. Security options ensures only files under project directory (or unnamed files) can be overwritten.
  • Export Perl programs to a HTML or Rich Text (RTF) document complete with syntax highlighting
  • Most Recently Used list for quick selection of recent editor files that you have been working on
  • Insert file at cursor location - either using menu option, or by dragging one or more  files from explorer
  • Print Editor files complete with Syntax Highlighting - Usual Print setup option.
  • File associations are automatically checked to see if they have changed since last executing PerlWiz. Associations can be changed from within PerlWiz instead, and this checking can be turned off if required.
  • Store and open files automatically with Windows, Macintosh or Unix line endings. Save in another format.
  • PerlWiz checks to see if your files have been updated whilst you have been editing - e.g. saved over or removed by another program / person.
Projects
  • Use projects to group together essential information about an application or task, and view multiple editor files at once.
  • Ignore projects if you like - just use the default project - keep all the benefits of using projects without having to think about maintaining project files.  If you choose to use project, use New / Open / Save / Save As options as normal.
  • Project Organizer to maintain settings / order / visibility for files within project, including setting details for multiple files at the same time.
  • Most Recently Used list for quick selection of recent projects that you have been working on
  • Optionally AutoLoad last project used each time open PerlWiz
  • Keep identity information for a project - e.g. Name of project, Version (can be used for keeping repository), Copyright Notice, Author, Author ID, Email, URL, Telephone, Notes, and Keywords.
  • See when project first created, and when last modified
FTP (Web Site)
  • Comprehensive and easy-to-use integrated FTP tool. Upload any of the files in your project.
  • Auto-upload feature. One click uploads any changed files in your project to your web server
  • Choose a standard FTP server to upload your web site to - common server for all files in project
  • Pick files you wish to be uploadable to your web site by ticking them
  • See when the file was last uploaded - files that need uploading are highlighted in red for easy identification
  • Server connectivity test tool - check your login details are correct before uploading
  • Optionally upload all files irrespective of whether they have changed
  • Location / name on server does not have to match that on client
  • Change the access rights for files to be uploaded (where available on your web server)
  • Choose the transfer mode from Binary, ASCII or Auto-Detect for whole project, or override on specific files
  • Optionally maintain connection with server between transfers.
  • Can also maintain all of these settings from the Project Organizer screen.
Extra MySQL features
  • Execute SQL scripts or highlighted sections of SQL scripts directly with local copy of MySQL
  • Specify SQL that must be executed before and/or after any highlighted SQL
  • See results of execution in output window
  • Auto-detects when MySQL local server is down when executing SQL and Perl Scripts, and brings server up automatically
  • Halt MySQL script if necessary (e.g. with a runaway query)
  • Start up MySQL local server instance on startup of PerlWiz if required
  • Shutdown MySQL local server instance on shutdown of PerlWiz is required
  • Automatically install MySQL as a service if required
  • Manually bring up / down server from within PerlWiz
  • Specify MySQL user id / password / root id in project
  • View server statistics
Web Server features
  • Built - in web server for testing Perl / PHP scripts and HTML documents
  • Test the manual filling of HTML forms without the need for an installed web server
  • Have a simple web server on your computer with little or no configuration required
  • Browser utilises server automatically within PerlWiz when server turned on
  • Access browser using external browser session outside of PerlWiz
  • Menu option to launch external browser window
  • Turn web server on and off with a click of a toolbar button
  • Configure web server base directory for serving HTML pages
  • Execute Perl/PHP CGI scripts from "logical" cgi-bin directory. Specify directory and "logical" name to use
  • Port can be set to avoid clashing with any other installed web servers. If clashes found, one will be automatically suggested.
  • Error pages served to show error output from programs
  • Missing HTTP header detected and reported using error page, with suggested resolution 
  • Security feature only allows files within your base or Perl CGI directory to be executed 
Code Templates
  • Specify standard text for when you create a brand new (blank) editor document
  • Specify standard text when different (blank) file types are created
  • HTML and Perl related code templates (snippets of text) supplied as standard, including common HTML codes, and common Perl tasks
  • Access snippets using a menu hierarchy, keyboard shortcut, or by typing a brief name in the text editor and pressing the F6 key.
  • Create and maintain your own code templates in a hierarchical structure to act as a standard code repository
  • Optionally hide some code templates from the Template menu to avoid too many menu items
  • Split menus up into columns with optional divider bar
  • Maintenance options include drag and drop (as sibling or child), Insert, Delete, Duplicate, Find etc.
  • Code Templates can include data-entry points to allow for interactive inclusion of parameters, and a choice of where the cursor should be placed (or what text should be highlighted) after insertion
  • Data-entry style templates can utilise a keyboard shortcut to avoid pop-up dialog box entry for speedy parameterised use of templates
Extra Perl features
  • View version details of the selected Perl compiler
  • Select which Perl compiler you wish to use (e.g. if wish to test on different versions)
  • Comment or uncomment a whole section of code - including existing comments if you wish. Use to effectively 'block out' a whole section of code you wish to avoid running, or to take lines of text and make it into a comment quickly and easily
  • Turn multiple lines of text into multiple print statements in Perl - great for including HTML in your Perl program.
  • Turn multiple lines of text into a print where block in Perl - good for including large blocks of HTML that you wish to maintain in its original form.
  • Program automatically detects existence of tools, and automatically searches and utilises the tools if this happens. If no tools are found, will take you to help page so that you can download the tools. 
Extra PHP features
  • See version information / PHPINFO HTML page
  • Select which PHP tool set you wish to use
  • Program automatically detects existence of tools, and automatically searches and utilises the tools if this happens. If no tools are found, will take you to help page so that you can download the tools. 
HTML features
  • Colour picker/editor - choose exactly the right HTML colour code or HTML name to use in your HTML
  • URL encode/uneencode - Convert any selected text to a format that can be safely used in a URL and back
  • Insert a HTML meta-data snippet from the project details to show the Author, Description, and keyword list to make it easy for search engines to effectively identify your web pages
  • Convert block of text into HTML with appropriate character encoding - either straight HTML or <pre> block
Module Installer
  • Search for specific Perl modules on the internet
  • Browse installed modules on your Perl installation
  • Download and Install new modules from the internet automatically
  • Check for updates to installed modules
  • Uninstall modules no longer required
Help
  • Comprehensive HTML-based context-sensitive on-line help
  • Organize, change, and add to on-line help using the Help Designer. Browse help structure and print / edit / launch pages as required.
Also
  • Auto-update option will detect, download and install the latest version of PerlWiz automatically from inside the program.

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This Page was last updated: 20 February 2004 22:27