Programming Editors for Perl


Robert Boone started the presentation with an exploration of the emacs editor, focusing on features of use to Perl programmers. His presentation was generated from emacs org mode.

Phil King followed with a lightning talk showing how to use perldb from emacs as a kind of built-in debugger. (Launched with M-x perldb.)


Todd Rinaldo was next, presenting a set of editors he uses for different purposes.

Todd mostly focused on the features of EPIC. Since it's built on the Eclipse platform, it has a built-in update mechanism that makes adding and updating features quite easy. It's Java-based, which means it should run anywhere the JVM is available. The editor has Subversion integration and the ability to edit remotely through FTP.

EPIC has full syntax highlighting for Perl as well as the ability to syntax check the code on save. Support for both Perl::Critic and Perl::Tidy is built in.

There are a few issues, however. Changing the colors in Eclipse can be annoying, because those options are determined by multiple subsystems. This can sometimes make it hard to find which option on which menu affects which color. Todd says it can run a telnet session, but SSH does not appear to work properly. The FTP-based access can sometimes become confused, especially when network problems occur. Obviously, the syntax check can fail when working remotely if the local environment does not match.


G. Wade Johnson finished the session with an overview of vim. Most of the presentation covered non-Perl-specific features of the editor. One point that he repeated several times was that vim is optimized for editing text, as opposed to entering text.

He did show some Perl-specific customizations and functionality at the end of the presentation. The presentation above is an S5 slideshow. The full notes are available by printing the slides or from the menu in the lower right of the page.


Considering the holy wars that often result when programmers talk editors, this meeting was surprisingly non-violent. No blood was shed and no voices were raised in anger. Everyone seemed to learn a bit from each presentation, whether on their editor of choice or not.