The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

I just don't get the appeal of IDE's

Posted By on September 22, 2007

Can someone explain to me why everyone love's IDE's? It seems to me that the things they are good at (debugging, laying things out, finding where things are) can be accomplished almost as well if not equally well as other tools, but the core use – writing code, is hampered by code editors which fundamentally suck.


I am writing code, and it occurs to me that I need to go fix something in another part of the code.

In the IDE scenario, I can use the menu command to split the window, or open up another copy of the editor and drag it from a tab bar item to a second window, then double click to open the correct file and make my change. Meanwhile, my original view has gotten smaller, or I need to flip between the two.

Contrast this with using a dedicated editor like emacs. I am editing my file, then do ctl-x 5 2 which opens up a new window, which I then point into with the mouse (to make it active) and do ctl-x ctl-f to open up the right file (yes, I realize that these may seem to be nonstandard keybindings, but this is because emacs was written about 25 years ago, when someone thought that bindings such as these were a good idea. You'd think it's a pain, but you get used to it really quickly).

It just.. interrupts the flow, and makes programming inelegant.

Then, when you want to use their other features, they have to slurp in all your project stuff – you can't just use the debugger in most of them, you need to have used the IDE from the beginning, or whatnot.

Finally, the “finding where stuff is” is easily accomplished by a documentation package (like JavaDoc), which automagically builds docs every time you compile something, because you added something like that to your makefile, right? So, you can have a browser tab with the core Java library documentation open, and another one with your projects documentation open.

Or maybe I'm just not hip enough.


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