Asp4Hs: HomeSite/ASP/PHP Top Priority Enhancement Requests

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Here are some of the improvements that have been frequently requested for HomeSite's ASP, ASP.Net and PHP support. To submit your own ideas, email me if you like, though the best way to be heard by Macromedia is to start an ASP thread in the HomeSite support forum  -AND-  to submit a note via the Macromedia Software Feature Request and Bug Report Form. These messages go directly to the development teams.

Short List of High-Priority Feature Requests for HomeSite

Please remember, for this discussion of things we'd like Macromedia to do, we need to prioritize. They have limited developer resources to assign right now. Please keep minor things that users can do (VTML, scripts, etc) somewhat separate.

"I realize that there are always lots of improvements that we could make to HomeSite to make your life easier, but realistically we can only focus on a certain number of features.

You can be incredibly helpful on two fronts. First of all, if you can identify a short list of features that would be the highest priority fixes for H.S 5.0. I realize that your wishlist identifies many issues, but I am interested in your personal feeling on perhaps a dozen or so features. As you know, many of these issues can be resolved through HomeSite extensions such as VTML. I will get back to you with my/our feelings on these issues. We will try and work-in those features that are the easiest for us to put together and that blend into the architecture of HomeSite." --Dan Noel

From my reading of forum posts and email, I'd guess that these are the major requests in this area. Please comment, expand, disagree or suggest additions.

  1. Code-Sense/Intelli-sense Feature
    This seems to be the most requested feature from Interdev. This is similar to the HTML tag insight, but covers functions and objects in ASP. Also requested to cover Javascript and Javascript DOM. (thread)
    Patrik Muzila of allaire has said on this: "Object Insight - Many of you requested an ASP aware code insight feature. This is not a simple feature as object instance recognition was to be implemented. At the present Homesite does little interpretation of its document contents especially when script is involved. We are dealing with the same issue with JRUN Studio. The new feature is going to take some time to develop (5.0 timeframe), but once completed, it should not be difficult to apply it to ASP."

  2. Database interfacing features
    This is discussed a bit in this thread and it seems that CF Studio already has some functionality in this area. Perhaps it could be extended to help with ASP DB use in HomeSite. We could use more details of what functionality would be useful though.
    "Well the only (ADO) tool I'd find of use is a DSNless connection string that could be built browsing to the object in question, determine the type of ODBC connection, and fill in the required parameters. Other then that, a reference would be enough. Though intellisense for filling in any vbs/ado constants would be very very helpful too. Actually one other tool that would be nice would be a test pad for checking to see if an ADO connection works correctly and view the results, sort of like some tools available for building a query and testing the results." -- Scott St. Jean
    SQL Server support: I would like to be able to right click a line such as this:
       Set objRS = objConn.Execute("sql statement")
    and to be able to see the resultant recordset in a table view. I would also like to have the option of validating the statement.
    -- John Carpenter
    If "sql statement" is the name of a stored procedure I would like to be able to edit it, grant permissions to it and so on. If the stored procedure does not yet exist, I would like to be given the option to create it. This could probably be done by integrating HS and MS SQL Server Query Analyser. -- John Carpenter

  3. Fix the tag selection/editing when within ASP tags
    HS V4.5x broke what previously worked. That is, you could call up Edit Tag on an HTML tag within ASP <% %> tags. Example) In this code, put your curser in the table tag and try to call up edit tag:
    <% response.write "<table>" %>

    Of course, this will have other issues if you don't also fix the use of single quotes issue. If the editor replaces single quotes or escaped double quotes with a single set of double quotes on attributes, it may break the code.

    Looks like this is fixed for some cases in HSv5. It calls up the tag editors just fine. Have to test with single-quotes yet... Some users are reporting code cases where it is still broken though. (thread) ~jw 11/26/01

  4. Improved ASP Color Coding
    This was frequently requested, but seems to have been addressed pretty satisfactorily in HS 4.5.1 and later.
    This is still an issue for ASP.Net. Parser support for various ASP.Net languages is one of the most requested ASP.Net enhancements. You can find a few parsers at ASPdotNet4Hs.

  5. Single point option to force HomeSite to use single-quote chars for HTML tag attributes
    In ASP and PHP coding, where code is generating HTML tags, it's often easier to use single quote chars (') rather than double quote chars ("). For instance, the code:
         response.write "<font size="-1">this is a string</font>"
    will not work as intended since the response.write sees the end of the string at the " just before the -1. Many developers prefer to use single quotes as so:
         response.write "<font size='-1'>this is a string</font>"
    rather than extra escaped double quotes
         response.write "<font size=""-1"">this is a string</font>"
    which are easy to miscount.

    A user can go through tag editor files and try to fix this throughout or can enter all tags by hand, but that has problems (especially when you work in both HTML-only and ASP/PHP pages. A single point option to use single quotes would be a big help.

    FYI, the particular VTML line to look for in your Extensions\TagDefs\*.vtm files is:
    <CONTROL TYPE="CheckBox" NAME="checkSingleQuotes" ANCHOR="checkQuotes" ... CAPTION="Single quotes on attributes"/>
    You would add a CHECKED attribute to that line.

    Note: Using the AddRespWrite2 script to convert HTML code to response.write's will correctly convert the quotes.

    Here is Marjolein's one reply to me on this on 4/18/00:

    No, there is no overall option; however all (VTML versions of) HTML Tag Editors have this as an option (off by default). You could do an Extended S&R to turn it on by default for all of them (just add a CHECKED attribute to the checkbox). Not all built-in editors have this option though.

    I've found that some browsers have (sometimes?) trouble with single quotes though, but I cannot remember exact details.

    Is there a reason why one would want to have it set for all attributes instead of for a single (occasional) tag? If so, I can propose adding that to the Settings instead of having it on the Tag Editors only.

    Having an option for "quote all attributes" (or not!) in the settings is currently being discussed, but there are a lot of issues involved to implement this consistently across all tools and still prevent illegal code being generated... We're analyzing this (if it does get implemented you won't see it before 5.0).

    Marjolein Katsma

  6. Better handling of server side includes.
    I want to right click an include and select "Edit". Or I would like to be able to "expand" the include similar to the new collapsing text feature. (IE so an include is essentially a collapsed bit of text). If ASP Validation is going to be included, HomeSite will need to recognise includes properly. -- John Carpenter

    See also the useful functionality of the IncludeBrowse3 and EditLinkedFile scripts. See if EditLinkedFile2 can be enhanced to support file includes. See if Macromedia can build-in this functionality.-- jw

    HSv5 introduces "Edit Include File" on the right mouse button. This basically reproduces some of the functionality of the EditLinkedFile script in letting you easily click and open a linked include file (only file includes, not virtual). See also the article: Editing Referenced Files in HomeSite and ColdFusion Studio.

    It supports at least the following:
    <!--#include> <cfinclude> <cfmodule> <jsp:include> <%@ include> <jsp:forward> <VTINCLUDE> <WIZINCLUDE> <SCRIPT>

  7. ASP Validation
    Probably not easy, but it would probably be a killer feature for ASP coders. I'm not sure if InterDev has it or not? Might look for third party validators that could be interfaced to HS.
    "Validation of some code, even if we're just talking conditional statements and loops, it would help." -- Scott St. Jean
    Have had some discussions with Zack Jones of adding ASP validation features to ASP-Beautify's next version. Discussed possible integration with HS in the same way as CSE Validator. -- jw

  8. Script Debugging
    This might be possible with good integration with the MS Script Debugger. (detail discussion)

  9. Version Control Improvements
    Version/Source Control seems to be a bit buggy at the moment.

  10. Built in language search/reference for vbscript, jscript, ADO and perlscript.
    "Some user made modifications exist, but they aren't as good as the integrated support." -- Scott St. Jean... (I'll discuss what the shortcomings are with him and work to improve what's available. Could include getting ASP help working with Tag help? -jw)

  11. Integrate the String Conversion to Response.Write's
    Integrate the functionality in AddRespWrite2 to convert strings to code output statements (in various languages). Lower priority as it's available as a script now.

  12. ASP.Net support
    See section below for specifics.

  13. ASP, PHP & ASP.Net documentation support
    The documentation that comes installed with HomeSite should have some information about using HS with ASP, PHP and ASP.Net, including the fact that you need to set up a server to process the pages and that you should use server mapping. (FAQ) There is very little if any mention of PHP, ASP or ASP.Net in the current documentation. Each should have a page. This is not critical for users who have already figured these things out, but it would be useful to help new HS users. It could link to asp4hs or php4hs if desired to connect them to the available resources.

ASP.Net-specific Requests

This is an upcoming thing since ASP.Net is still in beta testing itself. See this thread for some ASP.Net request details. Parsers and custom dialogs would probably be most helpful. Users can write many of these things using the existing extension capabilities of HomeSite but that shouldn't release Macromedia from the responsibility for doing so. See ASPdotNet4Hs for currently available add-ons.

  1. Syntax coloring parsers for ASP.Net languages, generally in combination with HTML
  2. Custom dialogs for ASP.Net code generation
  3. Help / document sets
  4. Useful scripts
  5. Useful snippets

PHP-specific Requests

See PHP4Hs for currently available add-ons.

  1. Improved and Updated PHP Color Coding
    This was frequently requested, and was addressed in HS v5. The PHP3 was updated and a new PHP4 parser was added.

  2. Add DBG PHP Debugging support to Homesite
    DBG seems to be an open source PHP debugger. It might be possible to integrate it with HS to improve PHP development. Requested by a number of people in this thread.

  3. Single point option to force HomeSite to use single-quote chars for HTML tag attributes
    Mentioned above for ASP. Also applies to PHP.

Top InterDev-Feature Requests for HomeSite

"On the second front, we do not have a great deal of time to develop pages outside of HomeSite. Most of our time is actually spent in the Delphi development environment. Therefore, we are most interested in identifying the killer features of InterDev which we could support in HomeSite. Your guidance on these issues would be most helpful. We are most interested in those features that contribute greatly to developer productivity in ASP, but also other parts of web development." -Dan Noel

Since I (jeff) use HomeSite exclusively for ASP, and haven't tried the last couple of InterDev versions, I'll need feedback from others on this one... Some of these are obviously also mentioned in the first list above.

  1. Code-Sense/Intelli-sense/Code Completion Feature
  2. Script Debugging
  3. Database interfacing features
    "The features from Interdev that I cannot live without are Intellisense (greatest development tool ever!) and the database environment. The ability to manage a SQL Server without being at the server is a Godsend especially since there is no real interface like access is/has.

    These may not be very easy to develop but don't necessarily have to be ASP dependant. The ability to access objects and their properties could be developed for any language that supports the creation of objects. The database integration is a must these days in web development and should not be excluded for any reason."
    -- Clinton Gallagher in this thread.