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Last post Author Topic: Review of Zeus Edit  (Read 18825 times)

wraith808

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Review of Zeus Edit
« on: September 02, 2013, 05:22:14 PM »
Zeus Edit Review


Basic Info:
App NameZeus for Windows Programmer's Editor
App URLhttp://www.zeusedit.com/
App Version Reviewed3.97o 32-bit
Test System SpecsWindows 7 64-bit/Visual Studio 2010
Supported OSesWindows XP/Vista/7 32-bit and 64-bit/8 32-bit and 64-bit
Support MethodsE-mail, FAQ, Forums
Pricing Scheme$89.95 - A lite version is also available for gratis
Trial Version Available? Yes, 45-day no limitations.
Upgrade PolicyPoint in time upgrade scheme, detailed below by the developer.  45% discount available for further upgrades.
Reviewer Donation Link wraith808

Introduction
Zeus is billed as a programmer's editor, but that is selling it short.  It is a text based IDE in the vein of SlickEdit and UltraEdit Studio.  It is fully scriptable, keyboard centric, fully customizable, and includes throwbacks to hardcore programming like Brief, WordStar, Epsilon, and Emacs keyboard emulation.  It supports visual studio solutions (in addition to it's own workspace format), has built in source control integration for Subversion and TFS, and a variety of other features.  In fact, there are so many features, that I'm going to have to break this review up into separate parts.

Review Notes
Many people swear by Visual Studio as an IDE, and I do like what Microsoft has done with it.  But it takes a while to start up, uses a lot of memory, and is prone to crashes.  I love SlickEdit, but over time, I've had to pare down, and I just haven't been able to justify the extravagant expense to use such an editor.  So, I've stuck with Visual Studio, and just used text editors to support it.  I discovered Zeus, and the price is right, and the feature set is right- I'm just hoping that it lives up to the hype on the site.

Upgrade Notes - quoted from below
Quote
How Zeus upgrades are handled is brutally simple as they are nothing more than a point in time marked as an upgrade releases.

To understand this consider the history of upgrade releases as shown here.

From that link assume a user made their purchase at the time of this upgrade release.

    Zeus for Windows 3.97k Upgrade Release

That user would then get all these as free upgrades:

    Zeus for Windows 3.97l Patch
    Zeus for Windows 3.97n Patch
    Zeus for Windows 3.97m Patch
    Zeus for Windows 3.97o Patch

But they would have to purchase an upgrade to the 3.97p release (or just continue using the 3.97o version indefinitely).

Also note the last release was also an upgrade release:

    Zeus for Windows 3.97p Upgrade Release

That means the next release (due out shortly) will be a free upgrade.

Finally any registered user reporting a crash or a major fault will generally get a free upgrade, provided the version they are running is not too old.

NOTE: Because of the fluid nature of this review, if there's something that you need me to take a closer look at, feel free to let me know.

Another note: Due to the generosity of Jussi, ZeusEdit is on special for 49% off for members only.  Please check the thread in the discounts area for more information.

Link to comparison on SlickEdit forums between SlickEdit, UltraEdit, and E-macs.

(the reasoning behind this one is that I compared ZeusEdit to SlickEdit since I know SlickEdit, so this can be extended to ZeusEdit)

Link to comparison on ZeusEdit forums between UltraEdit, ZeusEdit, and EditpadPro
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 07:46:34 AM by wraith808 »

wraith808

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2013, 05:22:33 PM »
Step One: Downloading, Installing, and Registering the trial

In many cases, especially with smaller companies, registering a trial can be a trial in and of itself.  In order to use Zeus, there is no information that is required, and no key that has to be entered.  Just install and use.  The installer is contained in a zip file, and the file is less than 20 Mb.  It takes up 34.6 Mb on the hard drive when installed.  The only thing I would have liked would be a portable version.  The installer is pretty standard, which is a good thing for installers, the only thing that might be of some concern to some is that it shells out to run another installer.  It appeared to be deployment for other assemblies, so I wasn't worried about it. (Per Jussi from below, this is the standard Microsoft C redistributable deployment)

Rating for Installation 10/10

Step Two: Initial Run

After install, on first run the application comes up immediately, which is a welcome change from Visual Studio.  It has a default file loaded- the readme.  This has the expected welcome, but also a few good places to get started and to get help.  Though it doesn't use any GNU source code, it does provide interfaces for some GNU utilities, so the needed verbiage is in this file.

The initial screen is shown below:
ZeusEdit1.pngReview of Zeus Edit

There's a lot there to digest, but I've never been one for reading first, even in the face of a daunting foe.

So first, I toured the left pane.

Unlike how it may seem, this is not an expander control.  Each of the headers at the bottom serve as buttons, and the upper area switches as you go through them.

Drives is an interface to the file system, just as it says.
Nothing is in Workspace- I'm assuming that will be populated when we go through the next exercise.
Without a workspace, Classes isn't populated either.
Clipboard keeps track of the internal clipboard.  When I copied from an external app, that didn't appear on the clipboard.  However, the internal clipboard doesn't get in the way of the global clipboard- nor other clipboard management software it seems.  I use clipmate, and it didn't seem to be affected.
Files looks interesting- it has categories and the open files are assigned to them.  Right now, readme.txt is in the documents category.  I'll see how that changes with a workspace.
Functions parses the functions in the source file, it seems- but strangely enough, it parses the text file as lines.
Macros has some built in macros already defined, as shown below:
zeusedit2.pngReview of Zeus Edit

Template seems to have some templated text that can be inserted- code snippets by another name.  Templates can also (from the pasted text of the example) be expanded by text or by menu command.
Tools replicates the tools menu and has some user definable tools shown.  They can also be executed from the tools menu.

From there, I toured the menus.  If the look was daunting before, it's now overwhelming.  I get the feeling that I'm not going to be able to tour those without getting into a project, or looking at the quick start guide.  And seeing that its just a link away in the help menu, I figure that will be my next stop.

But from my initial impressions, things look promising.

Step Three: The Quick Start Guide and Help System

Zeus edit uses a standard windows help system- a welcome return to a tried and true technology.  It's somewhat comforting to know that you have a complete offline help system at your fingertips.

The quick start guide shows just how extensive the software is- there are no less than 28 quick start topics, though they are adequately named.  From programming in different languages, to setting up the intellisense/code completion, to setting up version control, to configuring the application itself.

As I'm evaluating it primarily in C#, I'll look at those subjects.

It's at that point that I see that for better or worse, Zeus is a product of modern times.  Though the packaging of the help is in a windows help file, several topics access their website for the content.  It does however get me a bit more prepared for what is before me.

Zeus uses exuberant ctags for code completion and class browsing.  From experience with that in SlickEdit, I know that it works well; there's a slight hit when you first open a project, and if the tags database has to be rebuilt.  But it's a proven technology.

Building the tags database for .NET is an easy task.  You use a dialog similar to the add references dialog, and select the assemblies you want to reference.  The more assemblies you choose, the longer this build will take, and the larger the database will be.  What I really liked was it doesn't stop on errors; I chose oracle by mistake, and it just let me know that the requisite assemblies weren't present, and built the rest.

zeusedit3.pngReview of Zeus Edit

Building this brought to the fore another thing of interest- the configuration, tags, etc are not kept in the program directory nor in the program data directory, but in the users roaming appdata directory.  Definitely an interesting fact.

With that done, I looked to opening my first workspace.

Initial Impressions: Very clean interface, it gives the impression of an IDE rather than a text editor, while having the responsiveness of a text editor.  It is a bit overwhelming in what is presented, driving me back to the quick start out of intimidation factor.  The help seems to be well done and has offline sections, but parts are online, and not denoted as so.

Rating 8/10 - two points deducted for intimidation factor and online/offline help not delineated.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2013, 10:46:14 AM by wraith808 »

wraith808

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2013, 05:22:40 PM »
My First Workspace

My primary purpose in trialing zeus was to find an adequate text-based IDE that I could use alongside visual studio that was responsive and handled my current projects and workflow.  As the responsive part was handled above, now it was time to dive into actually using it.

My first admission is that I cheated.  After opening the initial document and playing around for a while, I just couldn't handle the white, so I jumped ahead and did a bit of configuring.  So, the next step is actually going to be that configuration.

Step Three: Configuring the Editor - Part One
I've never understood how people use the standard dark on white- I like the inverse.  It's better in the dark (where I love to work) and useable in the light.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to get my current visual studio setup (which combines the best of the two IMO)... but I can at least get to where it looks like a terminal.  The first thing I did (I learned this time) was to check the forums.  There's a lot of help on varied topics- in fact a whole area on Tutorials, Tips, and Tricks.  The cool thing is that it's not just the community, nor is it just the developer- it's the very active developer interacting with a very active community!

It turns out, for the initial setup, having used SlickEdit, it wasn't that big of a deal.  Using the menu Options -> DocumentTypes brings up a list of the document types, and once you choose your document type and click edit, the properties for that particular document type comes up.  Again, the dialog is a bit overwhelming- but I'm starting to see that I was a bit unfair above.  Mouser's screenshot captor has the same problem- because it's VERY powerful, almost deceptively so for something that is as simple as capturing screenshots.  Zeus seems to suffer from the same thing.  It's a text editor at heart- but it IS an IDE, and seems VERY powerful under the hood.  Some things, you just can't break down to a simple format- like trying to get a mechanic used to working on family cars to work on racing cars.  There IS a learning curve, but I'm not sure there's a way around it.

Which brings us back to the Tutorials, Tips, and Tricks section of the site- it's very important with things on this level that there be representative involvement (even better if that representative is a developer).  This section on the site and the activity there bodes very well for the use of this tool.

zeusedit4.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit5.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit6.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit7.pngReview of Zeus Edit
menu optiondocument typesnote the extensionsproperties dialog

Back to the actual configuration- the dialog is laid out rather logically.  I won't go into everything, but there are a few things of note.

On the General Tab, the Extension section delineates the extensions that this document type applies to; the description is just what it says.
The File New Template is a template that is used whenever you create a document of this type.  
Skipping to the General Settings area- this is where you customize how the editor acts, i.e. do I use tabs or spaces- how many spaces are in a tab.  Line wrap, margins... there's a lot in this section, but I didn't really have to tweak them at all for the C# type.

On the Templates tab, there are several different templates already defined; they work very simply- just type int he shortcut and space and it is expanded.  The interesting thing is that some of the predefined templates seem to execute macros- I'll have to look into that later...

Who am I kidding.  It just looks so interesting, I had to try the appc template- very nice! Like metaprogramming in C#, you can actually script out your macros to insert the whole of the program if there is a template that requires it.  This one is in LUA, and below is the output.
zeusedit8.pngReview of Zeus Edit

Looking at the template code, however, I'm going to have to delve into that later:
Code: Text [Select]
  1. $MacroExcute<file_untitled.lua $TE>
  2. $ExpandTemplate<$zudzExample\appConsoleCS.tpl>

The next tab is the keywords tab- it defines those special words in this document type that are to be treated as keywords.  C# is already populated, so nothing to do there right now.  Pretty standard, though nice to see, that it allows you to specify your comment delimiters- not sure what allow nested comments does.

Another aside, normally when you click help in a dialog when you have windows help, it takes you to the topic for the selected control.  That is not hooked up in the Zeus help. It takes you to the generic help page, even though there is a specific help section for the DocumentType dialog.  Not a big deal, but just something to point out.

The next Tab is the reason that I came into this dialog- Coloring.  It's pretty straight forward, and at the same time, very customizable and recognizeable from not only SlickEdit, but the Visual Studio options.  To the right is a category of keywords/characters, and to the left is the foreground/background color.  The font style and weight can also be set for each.  It turns out, I didn't have to do too much- I changed the scheme to black and it was fine!  The only thing was I didn't like the font color on the selected line in the default scheme, so I looked around to see how to change that.  Scrolling down, it wasn't immediately obvious which one that was- but that's just because of my expectations from other editors.  The category was line cursor, where I'd normally see selected line.  I changed that and saved that scheme as my own 'Black'.  There were also a lot of other color choices in the Display View drop down (for the tools, etc), but it's just the editor I'm picky about.

zeusedit9.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit10.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit11.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit12.pngReview of Zeus Edit
dialogpre-installed themesDisplay ViewsSelected Line

So I clicked OK, closed the document type dialog, and once I saved the untitled document created by the template as a .cs file, it automagically changed.
zeusedit13.pngReview of Zeus Edit

But now that I was in the DocumentType dialog, I figured I'd at least look at the other tabs.
Compiler has the details for the compiler integration- there are quite a few options there, but the defaults from my experience using the command-line vs compiler look good.
Macros has a list of macros- they seem to be written in lua and python if the extensions are any indication, but I force myself to stay away for now.
Mappings is an interesting item - it allows you to assign a document type to an extension-less file by giving it a pseudo file extension.  As pre-configured, it's set up for makefile[.mak] and config[.mak].
Tools allows you to add your own custom tools to the tools menu for this particular document type.  I think I know where I'm going next as I try to integrate TFS... but I force myself to leave that alone for now.
I'm not sure what the Quick Help tab is used for on first viewing.  The stated bit says to "Select the Windows Help, HTML Help, MSDN, or Norton Guide help files to be used by the Quick Help keyword search engine."
It does have a spell check which shows that it can indeed be used to edit your text documents, but I'm here for the IDE, so we bypass that one for now.
Tags Database allows you to configure the tags used by this document type.  There's a link to the tags database builder and .NET database builder here also.  It already has my created .netdb and the C# dbs configured, so we also leave this alone for now.

So that's the document type dialog in a nutshell.  But I'm wondering- one of the things I liked was Brief emulation.  If not document type, is there a global editor option?   And yes there is.  It was right above my document type selection, and is just as featured, so I'll go into that in a bit.  Right now, however, my document type is configured, and I have had a glimpse beneath the hood, and see that it's running a very powerful engine.

Rating for Configuration: Part 1 - 9/10 (one point deducted for complexity of dialog and help not being integrated.  But I don't know what you could do with the complexity given the power.)

Step Four: Configuring the Editor - Part Two
One of the things that I loved about SlickEdit was the fact that it supported Brief keymappings.  Since the old Borland days, I've just been enamored of Brief- however, most editors don't support it out of the box, and because of some of the idiosyncracies, it's hard to just reconfigure an editor to use it.  So I had to find out how to enable it.  That led to the discovery of yet another settings dialog- this one for general settings.
zeusedit14.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit15.pngReview of Zeus Edit

The second tab is the one that I'd been looking for- and I see there are a lot of other keymaps defined out of the box, including BriefEx (which I've never learned) and Emacs (which I also tried to learn before deciding I had better things to do with my life).  There's also the ability to create your own keymap, and export and import them, which is a nice bit of plating added onto the keymapping feature.

zeusedit16.pngReview of Zeus Edit

Since I'm here, I'll go through the other tabs in brief (no pun intended)

FTP Hosts lets you define FTP connections for editing files; you can actually do remote editing, though I have less use for that than at one time, it's nice to know it's there.
User Defines holds a few fields that can be accessed for user information in macros and arguments when running tools.

I stumbled across another tab that I need... source control!  I've already installed the TFS MSSCCI Provider to utilize with the TFS Command-line tools- it's nice to see that it automatically appears.  I'll check to enable that, and look at the advanced options- it basically hooks into the 'Connect to a Team Foundation Server' dialog to choose your TFS server (not showing that because it's barebones and includes some path information)  Then it shows the Team Foundation options dialog.

zeusedit17.pngReview of Zeus Edit

The debugger tabs let you set up integrated debugging in Zeus... I'll get to that a bit later as that's a bit more than I want to handle in this section.

The Tags tab lets you use something other than ctags; though I'll have no reason to do that, it's nice to know there's the option.
The backup tab has an autobackup option where it can back up periodically- this lets you set that.  It also does a backup on save.  I'll leave it enabled for right now, but unless I use the periodic, I'll probably disable it since I use source control.  Again- nice to know that it is here.
The Fonts tab- pretty standard, but I will change it to use Consolas while we're here.
Triggers is pretty interesting- it allows you to script certain actions- before and after their activation.

zeusedit18.pngReview of Zeus Edit

And the next tab answers something I'd wondered about earlier- what kind of scripting engine is used.  It turns out that there are several.  By default, it seems to use lua (a good excuse as I'd been wanting to learn lua) but it has python, small c, javascript, rexx(!!!!), ruby, tcl, vb, and wsh.  Holy overkill, Batman!  That's just incredible!

zeusedit19.pngReview of Zeus Edit

The next tab is a letdown after that... but most would be as we go into the pedestrian print options to set your header and footer and whether to print line numbers, etc, etc.

The last tab is labeled Miscellaneous - it has the ability to set up your diff program (it uses winddiff by default for an external diff).  It also has an inbuilt diff that is used by default, but this one can override that.  It also has a place that you can pare down your navigator (the left pane) a bit, removing those options that you don't use, and a place to set the theme of the navigator.

Though the dialog is just as complex as the file types dialog, it seems to make more innate sense in its layout.  I don't know if that's me getting used to Zeus, or if there really is a difference.

One thing I will say after looking at the settings- there's a lot there that you may never touch, but if you need it, it is there.  It really hits home that Zeus is an IDE, and wants to be where you spend most of your productive day.

Rating for Configuration: Part 2 - 11/10(I had to do something to reward for that kicking scripting engine dialog.)

Step Five: Opening my first workspace
Workspaces are ZeusEdit's approximation of a solution- a group of projects (where group can mean one) that are opened at the same time and managed by a shell project- the workspace.  In addition to managing the project source files that you're currently working on, the workspace manager takes care of keeping the ctags database up to date, and manages builds for all loaded projects (though they can still be built separately).

This is all well and good if Zeus is your only IDE, but no matter how much I like having something to come up quickly and just allow me to code (sort of like a distraction free coding environment) I'm still going to have to use Visual Studio, so how well it opens and manages my current projects is a concern

For my first test, I choose a simple visual studio solution- a query builder common assembly that I created to manage queries based on an object, and generate the requisite SQL with our database specific additions.

The Workspace is managed from a separate menu- instead of the File menu, you use the Workspace menu.
zeusedit20.pngReview of Zeus Edit

The dialog defaults to the Zeus workspace type, but it's quick to switch to the Visual Studio type.  (One thing that I noticed working with this- I didn't see a way to default this to a selected choice, i.e. I'll most likely always be using Visual Studio solutions.  I might have overlooked it, but it hasn't bothered me enough to find out if I am missing an option)

zeusedit21.pngReview of Zeus Edit

It takes about 30 seconds to open the workspace and generate the ctags file for it.  I also notice that alongside my solution file, there is also now a .zwi file, so ZeusEdit generated a solution in its own format.

Now the workspace manager is filled in with everything that I had in my visual studio solution- including the unit tests, documentation, and unit test configuration files.  The class browser is also now functional.

zeusedit22.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit23.pngReview of Zeus Edit

When I open a file, the Functions browser becomes active.

zeusedit24.pngReview of Zeus Edit

The Files tab also is populated - with just the document that I have open.  It seems that I was mistaken and this tab is an arrangement of open files.  As I close it, the browser empties again, and as I open multiple files, they are populated.  I can see that being very useful...

zeusedit25.pngReview of Zeus Edit

Editing, is a breeze.  The editor is very responsive and the emulation of Brief is spot on.  It really makes me want to get to some actual work, rather than just cleaning up some random extra comments that I have lying around.  But before I try a larger workspace, I do want to tour the navigation and menus that have become active.

The right click menu is very full featured, with all of the functionality that you'd expect, like jump to declaration, definition, and find all references.  There is also a tools, templates, and macros menu- though I do note that the tools menu doesn't include user defined tools on the right click menu. 

zeusedit26.pngReview of Zeus Edit

The menu is also not responsive, which is probably one of the things that keeps it speedy.  What I mean by that is that if you right click on a comment, the declaration, definition, and references menus are still active.  Not a big deal.

zeusedit27.pngReview of Zeus Edit

I haven't set up the compiler, but having noted that there was already a setting in the compiler tab, I figure I might as well try.  And it works out of the box- score a big one right there.  The output is captured to another tab, and that output is linked to the code.  Score another one.

zeusedit28.pngReview of Zeus Edit

I did notice one thing.  As I said, I have extra files in my solution- for documentation that I've created.  If I build the whole solution, it chokes on the documentation project, though Visual Studio knows not to build it.  I can build the project separately with success, so that's not a problem with a solution of this size, and the larger solutions for the most part don't have that kind of structure.  But some do have files that are not included in the build- so I will have to check that.

zeusedit29.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit30.pngReview of Zeus Edit

It also runs the post build events, so that's a score too- I have the assemblies so that they are copied to a central location for use, and that happened without a hitch.

So far, the first impression with the workspace and the editor are favorable.  I do love that it built out of the box with no configuration.  I'm concerned about how it treats files that aren't part of the project on build.  In this case, the files are packaged a bit differently than most, so this might not be an issue, with most workspaces- but it is an issue.

Rating for Simple Workspace Import experience - 9/10
« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 05:10:02 PM by wraith808 »

wraith808

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2013, 05:22:58 PM »
Getting Down to Work

So far, I've played around with Zeus Edit, and it's been favorable.  But a lot of things don't come up until the rubber hits the road, so this section will be about putting it to the test of practical use.

Opening a more advanced workspace

As I stated before, my workspace I opened was a pretty simple one with only one project and some supporting projects in the way of documentation and unit tests.  My first solution that I'm going to try to open is another framework solution- but one that has a lot more projects.  One of the things I want to use Zeus for is to keep open projects that don't require a designer and that my user-facing solutions depend on; conceivably, I can edit in Zeus Edit, build, and pick up the changes in Visual Studio.

As I open, the tags are created, which takes a few seconds- pretty impressive for a solution with 14 projects and some test projects.
zeusedit32.pngReview of Zeus Edit

I try to perform a full build, and the results are output to a tool window as they were with the prior build- no errors in doing so, and the experience is very much the same as the first project that I attempted.  As I'm working specifically in one project, I check the right click menu, and see that I can build from there- very similar to Visual Studio, though the terminology is a bit different.
zeusedit33.pngReview of Zeus Edit

As I begin to work, the file isn't automatically checked out- rather I get a message about the file being read-only in the notification area.
zeusedit34.pngReview of Zeus Edit

I'm used to an auto-check out, but this isn't too big of a deal- but then I see that the SCC isn't actually setup- it must be set up on a workspace level, it appears.
zeusedit35.pngReview of Zeus Edit

After clicking activate, an instance of visual studio starts... I'm not exactly sure why, as nothing else happens.

I hope that's all I have to do... but this is when I get into seeing the output from the source control.
zeusedit36.pngReview of Zeus Edit

Unknown project.  So I look at the project options, and see that there is an area to set this.  But there has to be another way to do this- at least in my estimation.  So I fall back on the manual and the help isn't very helpful in this instance.  I check the forums, but it refers me to the SCC provider, which I already have installed.

Before falling back on entering the information manually, I try the option on the project right click menu- "Add to Source Control".  The standard SCC dialog for TFS appears, and I click OK.  Then it appears that it's going to attempt to check in, so I cancel.  Figuring that this is a manual step, I then check the project options- this is going to be an inconvenience if I have to enter it manually for each project- but when I get to the options, the information for the project is filled in!

So I check another project, and it's in the same state, i.e. the information isn't filled in.  On a hunch, I do the same thing- add to SCC, cancel... and the information appears.  Not the most intuitive, but it works.  Well it seems to- now I have to try again to edit.  It still doesn't support auto check out on edit- but it does work when I manually do it, so that's a win to me.

Another note at this time- there's a difference in terminology for 'Get' also- it's Update to Latest Version.  Just a note- there are likely to be differences in any SCC as there are so many terms used.

With the source control issue out of the way, I start editing, and it feels so much better and more responsive than Visual Studio- on a par with what I expect from SlickEdit.  That's really impressive!  

A few of the features that I find very useful I've gone over before- the Classes and Functions panes.  Go to definition is there on the right click menu, but has no shortcut defined.  I change that quickly.  CTRL+G is the best thing since sliced bread- I'm really digging the fact that it uses the output tab for a lot of functions rather than another dialog.  Instead of the dialog to list methods in the file, CTRL+G brings it up in an output window in which you can use normal navigation to get to the line you want, and just hit return to go to the method.  Very useful.  Document list (ALT+B) brings up a dialog- I'd have preferred it be like the other functions that list, and be in a tool window.  But there are several options, and that's the way that Visual Studio presents it- I've just already become spoiled by the tools tab.  Find all references gets a quick shortcut, and then I tweak the search options.  None of these things were dealbreakers- but it's nice to have this level of customization.
zeusedit37.pngReview of Zeus Editzeusedit38.pngReview of Zeus Edit

Then I come upon the first indication that you're working in a different environment.  I add a file to the project in the workspace, and it's not added to the project in visual studio.  Again, not a dealbreaker, but it does bode ill for working in Zeus when I'm initially sketching out a project.

But, I will have to say, this is very enjoyable.

Now comes the time to check in.  After seeing the dialog that was shown for the intial add project (which was definitely a zeus dialog) I held my breath.  But it wasn't needed- it uses the standard TFS dialog, including linking to work items.  It doesn't maintain the same query/location from its use in VS, but that's pretty insignificant.

As a summary, I'll also note some other things that I came across utilizing Zeus intensively:
1. It does handle extra files being in the solution fine, alleviating my earlier concerns.  It appears that only in the case that there is a separate solution item for storage of other types of documents (rather than them being included in an actual project) is there a problem.  It also respects build directives, i.e. do not include this source file in the build.
2. I ran into a problem with ctags when there were icons included in the project.  It didn't affect the build, but it was annoying.  I tried to do some research into exactly what it was looking for, but didn't readily find it.
zeusedit31.pngReview of Zeus Edit

3. You can't run unit tests from the Zeus editor as far as I can see.  Not a deal breaker, and I'm not even sure if MS provides an interface to their unit test provider.

In summary, after using Zeus with a few different projects and over time in my workflow, I found that it had foibles, and it wasn't perfect.  There were definitely things that I had to get past.  But the largest compliment that I can give it is that after using it for this past week during a time when I had to have my head down coding, I don't think that I'm going to want to stop using it after the review.  It has become a pretty integral part of my workflow at this point, and has made me more productive as I don't have to continually shackle myself to visual studio and it's multiple crashes and bloated start times especially when editing non-visual solutions.

Rating for Daily use experience - 8/10
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 04:07:42 PM by wraith808 »

wraith808

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2013, 05:23:05 PM »
Extras and Conclusion

At this point, for my evaluation purposes, Zeus Edit matches Slick Edit in every arena.  

Things that I've also done to make it even more useful that I've not mentioned before include:
  • Created a batch file to do a get on the entire TFS repository and added it to the Tools menu.
  • Created a batch file to do a get on the shared binaries in TFS and copy them to my working directory.
  • Created lua scripts to output and monitor certain vs variables
  • Added interactive ruby and python to the menus to start using Zeus in my make processes and for general utility
  • Set up t-sql so that I can run sqlcmd and capture the output so I can use zeus when I'm editing SQL.

The one other major area that I investigated was debugging Managed .NET code (I don't use this, as I have VS open in my general workflow- and SE doesn't support it anymore either.  But I saw a thread on the ZE forums about debugging so started attempting).

By no fault of its own, unfortunately, you're not able to debug Managed .NET code in Zeus Edit.  The DebugCLR is the problem, which is the same problem with SlickEdit; as MS doesn't support it on the latest versions of .NET but rather have switched over to an integrated debugger and only support external debugging via COM interfaces, it doesn't work.  What I am able to do is to spawn the MDBG process from Zeus sending it the process I'm debugging, and continue my debugging from there.

In the final analysis, the largest indicator of the use of Zeus is that now that I've started using it, I can't imagine developing without it.  It has completely supplanted SlickEdit in my process.  There are a couple of features that SlickEdit has that Zeus does not- but those aren't integral, and include such things as a visual backup system (it's not source control by any means, so it's just useful, not integral), the ability to beautify code (though I'm sure I could integrate a third party tool to do that, so again it's not integral), and the interactive command line (again useful, but not integral as I can spawn a new window and run a script as the document).  Considering the difference in price, it's pretty much a no brainer for me to choose Zeus over renewing my service contract with SlickEdit.

Though there's always room for improvement, the only large hole that exists in the use of Zeus is the learning curve and the corresponding issues in the offline documentation.  But there's a wealth of support on the forums directly from the developer to overcome this lack.

Final Rating - 9/10
« Last Edit: September 18, 2013, 04:25:04 PM by wraith808 »

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2013, 05:57:36 PM »
... I discovered Zeus, and the price is right, and the feature set is right- I'm just hoping that it lives up to the hype on the site.

What kind of thing would you consider a "deal-breaker" that would lead you to believe that it doesn't live up to the hype?


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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2013, 09:04:55 PM »
... I discovered Zeus, and the price is right, and the feature set is right- I'm just hoping that it lives up to the hype on the site.

What kind of thing would you consider a "deal-breaker" that would lead you to believe that it doesn't live up to the hype?



I don't know at this point.  I'm looking for something to exist alongside if not replace Visual Studio as an IDE that I can use instead of being stuck with visual studio's downsides.  Not just a text editor, but an IDE.  So it would have to fit those requirements- it's more of a feels right in my workflow thing than anything else.

Jussi Jumppanen

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2013, 10:10:23 PM »
> the only thing that might be of some concern to some is that it shells out to run another installer.

FYI the second installer that gets run is the C Runtime Redistributable installer as provided by Microsoft.

Cheers Jussi

PS: I'm enjoying reading your review and look forward the next chapters. Your daunting before, it's now overwhelming observation is quite an accurate description of most people's first impressions.

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« Last Edit: September 04, 2013, 05:14:53 PM by wraith808 »

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2013, 12:54:37 PM »
The review summary table indicates that the price for Zeus is $69.95, but the price that comes up in the shopping cart if I start to register the software (that's the only place I found a price on the vendor's website) is $89.95.  Is the price in the review just a typo error?

Also, I wonder if there's a clear policy for upgrades? The review summary says, "Free updates for new builds of the same version", but it's not clear to me what that might be. It seems that there was a cut off for free updates between 3.97i and 3.97k (though another page on the site indicates that the cut off was at version 3.97c).  So it seems that a major upgrade point occurred with just a version number change that usually indicates a bugfix-only release for most software.

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2013, 01:36:52 PM »
The review summary table indicates that the price for Zeus is $69.95, but the price that comes up in the shopping cart if I start to register the software (that's the only place I found a price on the vendor's website) is $89.95.  Is the price in the review just a typo error?

Also, I wonder if there's a clear policy for upgrades? The review summary says, "Free updates for new builds of the same version", but it's not clear to me what that might be. It seems that there was a cut off for free updates between 3.97i and 3.97k (though another page on the site indicates that the cut off was at version 3.97c).  So it seems that a major upgrade point occurred with just a version number change that usually indicates a bugfix-only release for most software.

Thanks for those catches.  It is indeed 89.95, and I've updated the review with that.  And it seemed that it was latest builds looking at the upgrade, but I'll have to check on that.  There is information at this link, and it appears that the version cut off was 2 years ago, but indeed, now I see what you mean- there doesn't seem to be a clear cut-off to a version purchased today.

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2013, 03:27:35 PM »
Another note: Due to the generosity of Jussi, ZeusEdit is on special for 49% off for members only.  Please check the thread in the discounts area for more information.

 :up:

(just in case anyone missed it!)
Tom

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2013, 03:44:39 PM »
I'm a believer in plain text, but not a coder.

I looked at an older version of Zeus some years back, and was disappointed in its very limited WordStar emulation.  That's not picking on Zeus as such; it's routine with Windows editors, with the exception of WSedit.  I'd like to know how much WordStar emulation the current version of Zeus has.

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2013, 03:52:14 PM »
I'm a believer in plain text, but not a coder.

I looked at an older version of Zeus some years back, and was disappointed in its very limited WordStar emulation.  That's not picking on Zeus as such; it's routine with Windows editors, with the exception of WSedit.  I'd like to know how much WordStar emulation the current version of Zeus has.

I've never used WordStar, but I'll try to take a look.  What I'd really suggest is to look at the latest version and post on their boards to get a better idea.  There's a 45 day trial, and a lite version for free.  The boards are very active from what I've seen also.  Jussi might also drop by, so if so, he might be able to answer, especially if you reply with what you see as missing.

Jussi Jumppanen

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2013, 07:53:00 PM »
Quote
> not sure what allow nested comments does.

Those setting controls how the block comments work.

Consider how the block comments work in C++ (and most other languages):

      /* this is comment
      /* this is comment
      */ this is not comment

The block comments above are not nested as both of the /* end at the single */ end comment.

Sure enough there are some languages out there that work like this:

      /* this is comment
      /* this is comment
      */ this is still a comment
      */ this is not comment

Don't ask me which language they are, but somewhere along the line a Zeus user would have asked for this feature.

Quote
> I'm not sure what the Quick Help tab is used for on first viewing.

Quick Help lets you integrate help files into the editor.

For example if you have the MSDN installed on your machine that would be one of the first things I would recommend adding to the document type.

But the Quick Help can also import chm or hlp files.

To see how it works consider this Zeus macro function:

      beep_disable()

Place the cursor on the beep_disable function and then use the Help, Quick Help Current Word menu (or Alt+Q).

Cheers Jussi

« Last Edit: September 03, 2013, 08:12:42 PM by Jussi Jumppanen »

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2013, 08:12:03 PM »
Quote
I'd like to know how much WordStar emulation the current version of Zeus has.

I'll be honest; the emulation modes in Zeus rely heavily on user feedback.

Since I'm a Brief user, all I ever use is the BriefEx keyboard mapping and have next to no knowledge of these other mappings.

These other mappings where added as and when requested by users and as such they reflect that particular user's knowledge of their favourite mapping.

But as the keyboard mapping in Zeus configurable, I don't see why the support for Wordstar can't be improved.

If there are keys missing just let me know.

Jussi Jumppanen

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2013, 08:35:11 PM »
Quote
Also, I wonder if there's a clear policy for upgrades?

How Zeus upgrades are handled is brutally simple as they are nothing more than a point in time marked as an upgrade releases.

To understand this consider the history of upgrade releases as shown here.

From that link assume a user made their purchase at the time of this upgrade release.

    Zeus for Windows 3.97k Upgrade Release

That user would then get all these as free upgrades:

    Zeus for Windows 3.97l Patch
    Zeus for Windows 3.97n Patch
    Zeus for Windows 3.97m Patch
    Zeus for Windows 3.97o Patch


But they would have to purchase an upgrade to the 3.97p release (or just continue using the 3.97o version indefinitely).

Also note the last release was also an upgrade release:

    Zeus for Windows 3.97p Upgrade Release

That means the next release (due out shortly) will be a free upgrade.

Finally any registered user reporting a crash or a major fault will generally get a free upgrade, provided the version they are running is not too old.


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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2013, 05:15:47 PM »

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2013, 05:11:37 PM »
Added section for opening my first workspace.  Also added Jussi's comments on upgrades to the summary at the top of the review.

Jussi Jumppanen

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2013, 11:08:37 PM »
Quote
I didn't see a way to default this to a selected choice
There is no option to configure this, but I will give it some though  ;)

Quote
though I do note that the tools menu doesn't include user defined tools on the right click menu.

You can configure this using the Add to popup menu option found in the Tools, Macros and Templates sections of the document type configuration.

Quote
I did notice one thing.  As I said, I have extra files in my solution- for documentation that I've created.  If I build the whole solution, it chokes on the documentation project, though Visual Studio knows not to build it.

It looks like you've found a bug :(

I'll add it to the Zeus bug list.

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2013, 03:22:44 PM »
Quote
I'd like to know how much WordStar emulation the current version of Zeus has.
I'll be honest; the emulation modes in Zeus rely heavily on user feedback.
I think the problem (from my POV) is twofold.  (1) WordStar works completely differently from just about all Windows editors I've seen with many operations needing two-key commands like Ctrl+K,B, and marked blocks being persistent: and (2) Microsoft stole important WordStar keys like Ctrl+X etc. for its own purposes, rendering them hard to recover for WordStar users.  Changing from one system to the other requires a radical change of personality.  I doubt you have many "pure text" users who aren't coders, so it may not be worth pursuing.  Is it possible for users to do their own keymapping?  And is such a feature available in the free version?

Jussi Jumppanen

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2013, 11:26:36 PM »
Quote
WordStar works completely differently from just about all Windows editors I've seen with many operations needing two-key commands
Not unlike EMACS in that regard and Zeus has an EMACS binding that was added on the request to an EMACS user.

Quote
many operations needing two-key commands like Ctrl+K,B, and marked blocks being persistent
I turned on Wordstar in Zeus to test Ctrl+K,B and I can see it turns on the block marking. I could then mark a region of text by moving the cursor with the keyboard.

After I had marked a region of text I ended block marking by using the Ctrl+K,K keys.

That marked area would persistent even if I used the keyboard to moved the cursor to another page or if I started entering new text.

But the marked area was removed if I used the mouse  to move the cursor and that may well be a bug, I'm not sure?

As I've never used Wordstar, I don't even know if the behaviour I described above is even correct :(

But that keyboard behaviour is user configurable ;)

Quote
Is it possible for users to do their own keymapping?
 
Yes.

Quote
And is such a feature available in the free version?
 
Yes.

rjbull

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2013, 03:28:17 PM »
Thanks, Jussi.  I'll maybe take a look, once I get a round tuit.

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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2013, 03:48:23 PM »
Based on what's been completed of this review I decided to try out the program and compare it against my current editor of choice - Komodo Edit - because the overall philosophy behind them seems similar. Since I mostly deal with HTML I could never justify purchasing Komodo IDE for close to $400.

So far I have to say my first impression seems pretty accurate. There's a lot for me to learn to translate what I do in Komodo Edit to Zeus but I'm already very impressed with the amount of work put into making it work with so many freely available tools and proactively providing solutions (via the support forum) for numerous scenarios.
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Re: Review of Zeus Edit
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2013, 03:58:10 PM »
Based on what's been completed of this review I decided to try out the program and compare it against my current editor of choice - Komodo Edit - because the overall philosophy behind them seems similar. Since I mostly deal with HTML I could never justify purchasing Komodo IDE for close to $400.

So far I have to say my first impression seems pretty accurate. There's a lot for me to learn to translate what I do in Komodo Edit to Zeus but I'm already very impressed with the amount of work put into making it work with so many freely available tools and proactively providing solutions (via the support forum) for numerous scenarios.

I think your experience with the price is very similar to mine.  I know that people say that software is only worth what will be paid for it, but it's more than that.  It seems that the whole philosophy with Zeus Edit is to give you an IDE that you can justify the price of easily.  My employer pays for the basics in an IDE... which for C# is Visual Studio.  But as a programmer, I prefer something lean- which is what the alternate IDEs are.  But I don't have the deep pockets of my employer, so justifying a $400 price tag is hard.

I had a deadline come up at work, but I plan to jump back into this. But I will say, having to get stuff done rather than just evaluating and putting Zeus to the test, I'm very impressed with how seamlessly it has fit into and become a vital part of my workflow.