Open source programming tool on the rise: Emacs LISP
Every so often, I come back to emacs and recognize just how wonderful it is, 20-odd years after it first took hold. Even today, it is easier to record macros, rebind keys, and customize the tool kit than many of the bigger, flashier programming tools out there.
While it's probably not fair to call emacs "new" or "rising," the platform isn't dropping off anyone's radar. Git ranks "emacs lisp" as the 13th most popular language based on projects and interest. By comparison, C# is 12th. Most of the code is built by programmers and for programmers only. One project, Rinari, for instance, turns emacs into a Ruby IDE. Another, MozRepl, allows Mozilla users to monkey around with the guts of Firefox using emacs.
Open source programming tool on the rise: Eclipse (and the Eclipse Marketplace)
It's hard to write about programming tools without mentioning Eclipse. While the IDE is well-established, plug-ins continue to re-invigorate it. Take, for instance, the fact that Eclipse plug-ins exist for practically every important language available. PHP, Ruby, Python, and C all live comfortably in this IDE, thanks to the evolving Eclipse plug-in ecosystem.
Almost as important as the plug-ins are the sophisticated ecologies that support them, many of which are open source. The Eclipse Marketplace is one such site devoted to helping users discover the tools they need. The site includes a social networking layer, showing who likes a particular plug-in and which plug-ins offer similar or competing solutions, thereby opening your search beyond simple lists of the most popular or the most downloaded.
Open source programming tool on the rise: Firebug
Most people see the browser as a mechanism for getting to Facebook or finding directions from Google Maps. Programmers, however, are increasingly able to take advantage of programming tools built right into the browser, with the Firefox plug-in Firebug leading the way.
The Firebug ecology is so fertile that it has spawned a subcategory of plug-ins that extend Firebug itself, often in surprising ways. FirePython, for example, doesn't actually live on the browser; it gets inserted into the server, where it delivers debugging information to the browser.
Thanks in some measure to Firebug's popularity among developers, all the major browsers now offer detailed information about the images, scraps of code, and whatnot that make up the page on view -- an approach that will only become more common as more software is written to take advantage of increasingly robust browsers.
Open source programming tool on the rise: Preprocessors
Many programmers often say, "I like the libraries and the distribution and the reliability of X, but I can't stand the syntax." This is why we now have a proliferation of preprocessors that modify the code before the compiler takes hold. They let you program in language X while writing something sort of different because whatever you write is converted into X after you write it and before the compiler reads it.