Integrated Development Environment

An Ideal IDE is a thing of beauty, easing code development

The reality of using certain IDEs is an incredible rat’s nest

My .NET experience with C++/C# vs. recent Netbeans/Eclipse experience with Scala, Lift, Python, & Google Application Engine

If you’ve used the older microsoft visual c++ IDE or the .NET express editions you’re familiar with how fast you can go from installation to digging into the code. The experience has gradually improved over generations of the IDE and now setting up projects can done in short order. Functionality like “go to definition” and “code completion” are a joy to every programmer.

I foolishly expected my Netbeans and Eclipse installations to be just as smooth. And as long as your only developing in one of their default install languages they aren’t bad. You may have to set some environment path variables in order to get up and running, a mild nuisance but no deal breaker. As soon you go off the beaten path by using something like scala, lift, or the Google App Engine (GAE) you’re in for some hair pulling.

I’ve spent the past few nights struggling with learning the new friendfeed API v2. I very much enjoy the functionality and experience of using friendfeed and would greatly benefit from applying their authorization, social, and feed grabbing functions into a project I’m currently working. The folks at friendfeed have been very helpful (just found out the version of python I installed is too new) by giving pointers on setting up their sample project, which shows the API in action. Unfortunately none of them use IDEs internally and I think I’m starting to understand why. It’s a serious ball buster trying to get the IDEs to work properly with the languages and software they use.

Mr. IDE builders, might I humbly request…

A simple to download and install IDE for web apps (have it automatically set the path and any needed libs with a single click install).

The state of setting up IDEs for web applications is a mess, and there’s a great need for having a consistent, easy to install environment for building in all the web programming languages:

  • java
  • java ee
  • php
  • scala (+lift)
  • python
  • ruby (+ on rails)
  • Google Application Engine
  • C++/C#
  • Groovy
  • Haskell (thanks to gnuvince for catching my mind mangling of pascal and Haskell)

Why the added friction to entry?

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  • Anonymous

    Sorry but this is apples to oranges comparison. In the same way you can complain about VS2008 being unprepared for PHP. It's not mainstream use of that IDE. VS2008 is good for C#/VB.NET. Eclipse is even better for it's main language – Java. Why? compare refactoring tools, simple find class-by-name. Obviously you can get those features by installing resharper (for extra $$$).

  • foo

    VS2008 + Resharper is still quite a way behind JDT

    namely, its missing
    (1) call hierarchy
    (2) proper incremental builds of projects
    (3) speed, speed, speed (scaling to large 1000LKOC projects)

  • Mark Essel

    No qualms about your argument they are different things, but think about it from a setup standpoint (that's where I'm coming from).

    There's definitely a gap between the installation of Netbeans/Eclipse and having a functional environment for integrated web programming. I'd love to see developers address that gap to make the ease of entry into IDE web programming smoother. I know many devs don't want to be restricted by an IDE, and generic build/make like files exported from an IDE allow for that.

  • Mark Essel

    Sorry for my ignorance foo, could you flush details a little more? My experience and post is more focused on setting up the environment (more than working in the environment).

  • ptibird

    Have you ever tried IntelliJ IDEA? No C++/C support however, which might be a drawback for you, but for web-development, and JVM-based languages it's the thing you might find really great. Just give it try. There is one month free evaluation available that would give you the feeling.

  • Mark Essel

    Ptibird, your response shows why I love blogging. There's always something we don't know about (I've heard of IntelliJ but hadn't tried it yet). Serendipity and great suggestions from friendly folks that don't mind sharing.

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