Revisiting Eclipse – Another IDE

posted @ Thursday, January 13, 2005 12:31 AM


Tonight I got out my copy of The Pragmatic Programmer; I haven’t read this book for almost two years now so I thought it would be a good chance to review it. If you haven’t read this book yet and you get paid to develop software I would highly recommend it. After reviewing a few chapters it put me in the mood to revisit an old IDE I once used. I haven’t worked with Eclipse since I was in college, since I was in a bit of a reminiscent mood I decided to download the latest bits and give it a whirl.

There are some really neat new options, I wonder if the Visual Studio .NET team is watching (I’m sure they are). Of these, one thing that caught my attention was the “Update imports on paste” functionality. Basically, if you were to paste in some new code, the IDE will determine which import statements are required by the new code and automatically add them to your existing list of import statements. We all try to avoid copy and pasting code (right?), but this functionality is really nice if you need to do so. I wonder how it handles type resolution across multiple namespaces if the type isn’t fully qualified with a namespace via the code. None the less a helpful feature I believe. Another nice feature is its ability to highlight method exit points simply by placing the cursor on the method return type. This can be extremely helpful in visualizing the code path with long methods.

Something I found a little strange (correct me if I missed the reasoning here) is spell-checking support has been added to the Java editor. The only language that I can think of that would pass a spell checker is COBOL, why on earth would you want to spell check your Java code? Okay, the devil’s advocate would say: “to do so to confirm all their documentation is free of misspelled words”; which makes sense however the fact that it would pick up on every code entry would simply be too painful. You would need to limit the spell checker to commented out lines only for this to be acceptable. Again, feel free to correct me if I misspoke. Overall I’m rather impressed; especially considering it’s a free IDE. I can’t wait till the beta 2 bits drop for Visual Studio .NET, I understand there is a rather large delta between it and the beta 1 release, that will be even more fun to play with.