Actually Using Eclipse

13 January 2005

I've actually started using Eclipse for work now. I saw one of my coworkers manipulating VSS right in the IDE using the VSSPlugin and I decided that maybe it's time to actually give it a shot. The rudimentary Ant support makes Eclipse useful too.

The intellisense code completion works nicely enough. Amazingly some of the automatic syntax stuff (closing parentheses, braces, quotes) hasn't gotten in my way, since it intelligently lets me type them myself as well. "Organize Imports" also has me completely spoiled. The advanced navigation and Java searches allow me to more thoroughly explore code as I always expected it would.

Besides trying to get used to automatic indentation (which can be fixed up for the most part with the "Correct Indentation" key binding), my main discomfort is all the GUI poking and prodding it takes me to setup my environment and project -- I doubt any 2 people here have similar environments, and I'm pretty sure I could never reproduce my environment just the way it is on another machine. I've not tried too much yet, but this may not be a real concern if I find the project files to be especially intelligent and portable.

I still revert back to a command-line for doing Ant-based deployments, since it's just less awkward to specify a target and a couple options than all the pointing, clicking, searching lists, etc in the GUI. I miss my vi(1) keys a bit as well. It's not as bad as I would have expected, but I'll still fire up vi when I need to do some mass code rearrangement where I need to move around quickly.

I saw Netbeans 4.0 projects are completely based on Ant's build.xml now. I think Eclipse needs to learn a thing or 2 from Netbeans here. Netbeans' ability to let me add ant targets to a context menu seemed make for a pretty intuitive experience. Maybe this does exist already, and I just need to go searching the Eclipse plugins.

For my own personal projects, I've not converted to Eclipse yet. Using xDoclet to generate much of the code could cause Eclipse to have trouble resolving references in the editor, but I saw an option to refresh the workspace after a build, so I wouldn't be surprised if I could get it to work.


Filed Under: Java Work