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Bruce Eckel on Python IDEs: "As far as Python goes, the argument for an IDE is not so compelling. Most people I know just use regular editors. I think the reason is that Python is less verbose.The example I often give is to read each line from a file, which I can do in Python without thinking about it. In Java, it's a research project to open a file."

Ruby people speak much the same about TextMate. Yes, it's true the brevity of the language means a text editor will get your further, but that's not a good reason to pass on a powerful IDE.

A good while back I gave up on one true ring theories for editing source and haven't looked back. Typically there's 3-5 "IDEs" open on my machine. Right now, in my taskbar, there's ultraedit, emacs, wingide and eclipse. Today for source code, I used textpad, emacs, wingide idea, pydev, eclipse, vim, ultraedit. I'm betting lots of developers work with multiple editors. I don't like vim much, but it's more or less guaranteed to be there on servers, so it makes sense to use it, whereas emacs is hit and miss.

If there's an issue with IDEs today, it's this obsession with debuggers. I need a better debugger in an IDE about as much as I need a better paperclip guy. Profilers and good support for running tests would be great. I've used the debugger in IDEA once in 4 years. That one time was because a colleague couldn't believe I'd never used the debugger in IDEA so we stepped through a session together. Go figure.

May 3, 2006 02:53 AM


Anthony Eden
(May 3, 2006 03:47 AM #)

Both myself and my collegues agree that an IDE for Ruby development really is necessary. The part we miss as Java developers is the ability to navigate around between related code, either through the inheritence tree or even more importantly through use relationships. If you've ever browsed through the Rails source code though it becomes evident how hard it will be to establish those relationships. Personally I use TextMate, but I still long for the types of things I once had in IDEA.

Richard Rodger
(May 3, 2006 10:14 AM #)

Real programmers debug with print!

Yeah, what is this thing with debuggers? How about actually "understanding" your code. I get the feeling they are used as substitutes for a good mental model of the code.

(May 8, 2006 08:32 PM #)

I see Anthony has already chimed in with my thoughts ;) When I think "IDE" I don't really think the one true editor, I think the ablity to surf my code, tab completion, and (in Eclipse) one button compile with inline red-squigglies for warnings and errors.

I used to code exclusivly in emacs, and I still long for it when it comes to editing code. When compared to editing, all IDEs are primitive when compared to my abilities in emacs; which is to say, perhaps I could learn how to use TextMate as effectivly as I do emacs, but who's got the time? ;)

But, the code-surfing, tab completion, and inline errors lets me think less when I'm coding about "little stuff" and think more about big stuff, like, "is this API call usable?"

So, while the one true editor theory is flawed, relying on grep, memory, and run-time error checking for the above three seems so very...Perl... ;>

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