July 10, 2002

IDE findings

After working with the Netbeans IDE for a while, I've come to the conclusion that I'm much more comfortable working with XEmacs and JDEE. I really, really tried to get comfy with Netbeans -- it's quite a piece of software. The popup method/property completion thingie was useful, the Javadoc integration was useful. And I'll still probably use it for the GUI-building stuff, whatever I wind up doing with that.

But IDEs are just too... hitchy for me. For better or worse, I've evolved as a programmer to have my hands on the keyboard at all times, and context switching with a mouse just interrupts how I think. This may be similar to writing: I did not learn to write using a word processor, so for anything beyond trivial edits/rewrites, I need to print out a document, edit it by hand and then enter the changes to the system.

With "interrupts how I think" is included API mental stickyness -- the popup completion is nice, but you shouldn't need to use it all the time. But the fact that I could use it as a crutch prevented me from reading (and spending more time with) the Javadocs. This is a greater initial time investment, but much smaller for subsequent uses. And greater API familiarity comes along with this, which IMO is the most important thing to know in most languages.

There were a few reasons why I really tried to get used to Netbeans. One, I'm still the only Java person here but that won't last long, and I'll need to show other people what to do. Two, I know people who are very proficient with IDEs and figured it would be a good arrow in the quiver to become so.

I'm a little reticent to admit this, since nothing gets my hackles up than sounding like one of the ONB (old nostalgic bastard) characters: "Back in my day, we had to..." But it's just a matter of different tools for different folks, and unlike most people I won't try to impose a value judgement on the tools other people use. (Unless it's notepad.)

(Originally posted elsewhere)

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