Whether you're a network administrator who's into scripting, or you're just getting into VBScript or PowerShell and you're looking for a more powerful and productive development environment, it's time to put away Notepad and take a close look at Sapien Technologies' PrimalScript. PrimalScript is the Rolls Royce of scripting editors. Like the Rolls, it's expensive, but it offers you features that you won't see from any of its competitors.

The PrimalScript Universal package contains way more than just an editor. It's a full-fledged development and training package, providing you with tools for writing administrative scripts as well as Web and .NET applications. The PrimalScript Universal package includes the editor PrimalScript 4.1 Enterprise, which is the primary script editor, as well as PrimalScope, a VBScript and JScript debugger. In addition, the package also includes multiple VBScript training CDs, including VBScript 101, 201, and 301, and PrimalScript 4: Untamed, a course for PrimalScript itself. Other reference sources include VBScript Enterprise Best Practices, VBScript Advanced HTML applications (HTA) for Windows Administrators, Managing IIS with VBScript, a one-year subscription to ScriptingAnswers.com, and a supplemental CD-ROM containing more than 200 additional code snippets.

Using an InstallShield setup program, the PrimalScript editor installed effortlessly in under a minute. You definitely get the feeling that PrimalScript is different from other editors beginning from the moment that you first start using it. Unlike most editors that start with a blank editing window, PrimalScript greets you with PrimalScript's User Interface Customization Wizard. This wizard lets you select the role you want to use. You have several options, including VBScript/Network Administrator, Classic ASP, and Minimum Default UI. Because I wanted to test the new PowerShell editing features, I selected PowerShell/Network Administrator. Next, you choose the layout you want, which essentially controls visibility of UI elements such as browsers and toolbars. Finally, you choose the file types that PrimalScript's Open dialog box will show. The wizard also can add an Edit with PrimalScript option to Windows Explorer's context menu. Using the wizard to customize the PrimalScript interface isn't a onetime deal. You can go back later and use the Tools menu to customize all of the settings available.

PrimalScript supports virtually all of today's popular scripting and programming languages, including VBScript, PowerShell WSH, JScript, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, KiXtart, and several other languages such as ASP, C/C++, C#, and VB.NET. In total, PrimalScript Universal provides language support and color-coded keywords for 46 development languages. PrimalScript provides all of the editing features you would expect, including support for unlimited undo and redo (including undo/redo support for past editing sessions), find and replace, support for recording and running macros, and syntax checking. PrimalScript also provides many advanced editing features such as code completion, code folding, source control integration, visual file comparison, a COM library browser, a code snippet library, and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI) wizards. It also provides several additional useful features, including optional line numbering, bookmarks, and a hexadecimal display mode.

The total number of features is too lengthy to discuss them all here. The features in the PrimalScript package are unrivaled in any of today's scripting editors.

For the Windows administrator, PrimalScript is particularly well suited for VBScript development. The VBScript snippets and multiple wizards make VBScript development very productive, plus the included VBScope debugger is powerful and easy to use. PrimalScript's support for PowerShell is good but it isn't as mature as the VBScript support. It has code coloring, syntax checking, and code completion but no debugging. You can use PowerShell's built-in Set-PSDebug, but that rudimentary tracing option isn't really comparable to PowerScope's VBScript debugging capabilities.

PrimalScript 4.1 is a powerful and feature-rich editor. However, I found the $1,369 price for PrimalScript Universal to be too steep. The PrimalScript Universal package is best suited for the beginning Windows administrative scripter who needs training resources and wants to focus on VBScript. For experienced scriptwriters I recommend the less expensive Professional edition, at $279. Although $279 for PrimalScript Professional might seem like a lot compared with free editors, PrimalScript 4.1 delivers the tools to make it worthwhile for the serious scripter. To download a 45-day trial version for the Standard, Professional, or Enterprise editions, go to Sapien's trial download Web site (http://www.primal script.com/downloadtrial.asp).

PrimalScript Universal
PROS: Full-featured editing environment, PowerShell support, VBScript debugging, extensive VBScript training and reference materials
Expensive, no PowerShell debugging, no PowerShell training or reference materials
RATING: 4 out of 5
PrimalScript Universal is best suited to IT professionals who want VBScript training in addition to a full-featured development environment. Experienced scriptwriters would find Sapien's other package, PrimalScript Professional, to be a better value.
CONTACT: Sapien Technologies • http://www.sapien.com