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Turn, and Face the Strange
Of IDEs and Men
by Calum Shaw-Mackay
May 5, 2004
It always seems that developers are more willing to agree on music, one of the most diverse forms of self-expression available, than they are to agree on their development environments


It’s all been said before – but I have never seen as much fanaticism in the development world (well apart from the “My language is better than yours” arguments) than in the land of IDEs.

My current poison – I don’t say favourite – is Eclipse 3.0 M8. It does what I want it to, and I’m happy with it, it has faults, show me an IDE that hasn’t.Sometimes it's slow as hell, but sometimes so am I.
The important thing is that I’ve learnt to understand these faults, and get around them. This is not to say that I’ve not used other IDEs – IntelliJ IDEA, JBuilder (from back when it was still half Delphi!), Netbeans, JDevloper, VAJ, Visual Café (then again you could say that I’ve missed out on a whole load of other IDE’s like Kawa, and Emacs/JDE (Yes I do consider anything that makes the general development ‘environment’ more integrated, an IDE).

Before I get inundated with “Why didn’t you stick with [whichever]?” posts, the only other IDE that I got on with, was IDEA, but because I couldn’t see multiple project trees at once without opening multiple windows, I moved to Eclipse. But this being said, many of these IDEs have great features that are to be praised, from IDEA’s almost total embrace of refactoring as a Good Thing that developers actually want, to JBuilder’s two-way, non-invasive, visual development (some might call constantly having a jbinit() method as invasive – I’m not one of them); from Netbeans’ ‘build on plugins’ philosophy to JDeveloper’s visual support for Struts.

Competition is good, but familiarity breeds contempt. Many developers advocate their own IDE whilst both disparaging the choices of others, and ignoring the failings of their own environments. Sadly, this scenario can be applied to many more things than just IDEs.

We do it with frameworks, Persistency solutions, etc, etc.

I think in many ways it is this blind loyalty to one particular brand (and not just IDEs) and futile infighting that could harm Java. And it’s not just infighting between developers, there are the Open Source and Don’t Open Source camps, and the JCP can’t even agree because they’ve all got their own agenda see JSR 243 – JDO 2.0

Just because your problem domain fits well with one particular problem don’t just assume that it will fit everyone’s, discuss it properly and objectively.

As the Beatles’ song goes, “But though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see, there will be an answer, let it be.”

There doesn’t have to be one answer, just don’t assume that everyone will find the same answer as you, moreover, don’t think that everyone is inferior because they have a different answer to you.

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About the Blogger

Calum Shaw-Mackay is an architect on Java and Jini systems, working in the UK. His interests lie in distributed computing, adaptability, and abstraction. Calum has been using Jini for longer than he would care to mention. His main area for taking the blame (some people would call it 'expertise') is systems integration and distributed frameworks, and is an advocate of using Jini's unique strengths to build adaptable enterprise systems. His opinions are his own. He's tried to get other people to take his opinions off him, but they just won't.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2004 Calum Shaw-Mackay. All rights reserved.

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