Friday, October 7, 2016

An IDE is a Tool, so Learn to Wield One

In my dabbling in my youth with Linux, I learnt a few of the basic command-line commands. It was enough to get by, but I wasn't anywhere near as effective with it as my mate who had converted me to Linux was. He could do all sorts of things with ease from the command-line, while I was constrained by what the GUI would allow me to do.

I learnt the lesson that I should be just as comfortable writing code in Notepad (or on paper) as I am in an IDE. The IDE was dismissed as a crutch that poor developers leaned on.

Over the years, I've come to see that it's both wrong and short-sighted to dismiss IDEs that way.

If for no other reason, being able to code in an IDE takes away some of the more tedious parts of programming. It's a waste of energy to do things like match up every parenthesis, or to scour the code for spelling mistakes. Having syntax highlighted makes reading code so much easier. Having linked code makes drilling down through classes effortless.

There are direct advantages too. Auto-generation of boilerplate code. Autocomplete. Real time code analysis. Instant accompanying documentation. Easy refactoring. Compilation, unit test, and debugging all at the ready.

Learning the shortcuts for an IDE can make it even more powerful. With Eclipse, I take full advantage of some of the text editing shortcuts to make code entry quicker. There's just no way I'd be able to be that effective on a text editor. For most common actions, I don't even have to leave my keyboard.

That's not to say I do everything in my IDE. I find having command line batch scripts more useful for compilation. I prefer TortoiseGit over EGit for source control. But coding-wise, learning how to use Eclipse effectively makes me far more productive.

No comments:

Post a Comment