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 How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Eclipse

Here at Amcom we're starting to formalize our coding processes, which includes coding standards, tools, etc. While I don't think we'd ever mandate the use of a specific IDE (as long as the final code adheres to the agreed upon standards, it's not really important how it was created), we find that we keep coming back to Eclipse.

We've discussed unit testing and MXUnit (Eclipse plugin). We've discussed the CF8 debugger (Eclipse plugin). We've decided to use the ColdBox framework (which has Eclipse plugins). We do a good amount of Flex work (FlexBuilder being available as a standalone Eclipse product or as an Eclipse plugin). And of course, as a ColdFusion shop, there's CFEclipse (Eclipse plugin).

A few of us have been using Eclipse (and various plugins) for a while, but some have yet to make the leap. I recalled my first efforts to make the switch from HomeSite+ (previously ColdFusion Studio) to Eclipse, and some of the challenges that I faced.

I was a bit overwhelmed at some of the terminology like "Perspective" and "View" and don't even get me started on the concept of a "Project". It took me a good couple of tries switching back and forth between Eclipse and HS+ before I was truly comfortable developing in the Eclipse environment. I put together a document that was intended to be used internally to help demystify Eclipse as an IDE. At this point it's pretty basic and a work in progress. But it was suggested that it might have some value to the community, and might help others that are considering making the switch but having a hard time mentally reconciling the Eclipse environment versus their current environment. I've attached a pdf to this entry, available at the "Download" link below.

If anyone finds this to be useful, please let me know and perhaps I'll flesh it out a bit more. If there's anything in the document that needs further clarification or correction, please bring that to my attention as well.

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.) ironic. I know another charlie griefer but he doesn't write so elegantly or use things like punctuation, capitalization and proper grammer.
# Posted By todd sharp | 10/9/08 2:46 PM
Hello Mr. Sharp! I can assure you that I do not know of this 'inelegant' Charlie Griefer to whom you refer. He certainly sounds like the type of person who wouldn't even go so far as to unpack his clothing whilst attending a conference (I personally shudder at the thought).

Yeah, y'know... what with this being the official work blog and all, I figured I'd class it up a bit and start using capital letters. Capital letters are weird :)
# Posted By Charlie Griefer | 10/9/08 3:14 PM
Have you considered the gossip concerning Adobe releasing a Eclipse plugin for coldfusion with ColdFusion 9? It would be nice if they could confirm or deny...learning new IDE's is time consuming.
# Posted By mark fuqua | 10/9/08 6:23 PM
@mark: Yeah, that rumor's been circulating for a while. Makes sense if you think about it. I'd wager that most CF programmers haven't really taken to Dreamweaver as a primary IDE. HS+ is still decent, but as far as I'm concerned, doesn't hold a candle to Eclipse and a few requisite plugins.

If it happens, I'd expect it to be Eclipse-based, since Adobe's already leveraged Eclipse for FlexBuilder, and there's such a significant following already for CFEclipse. So that'd mean the information in the document I wrote would still be relevant (assuming anyone finds it relevant now) :)

Max is coming up in a month. Maybe there'll be an announcement? :)
# Posted By Charlie Griefer | 10/9/08 6:38 PM
Great post. Yes - lots of rumors floating around about Max...

I agree - hope it's based off Eclipse and I hope it's affordable :)
# Posted By Jim Priest | 10/9/08 7:55 PM
Yea, but what about all the things in eclipse that don't work? I hate eclipse, but I will say that I hate it less than homesite.

I can't get my line numbers to work no matter what I do - and I've gone through the turn-line-numbers-on tutorials (and should we really need a tutorial to explain how to turn on line numbers?)

Also searching doesn't work very well, sometimes I search through a project for code I *know* is there but eclipse won't find it. Have to resort to homesite sometimes for searching.

And whats the deal with large files? CFEclipse gets so slow that my characters appear on the screen at the rate of about 1 per second. Makes me want to pull my hair out!
# Posted By Ryan | 10/13/08 9:19 AM
Hi Ryan:

I'll be the first to admit that Eclipse/CFE are far from perfect... but the "shortcomings" that I've encountered haven't been significant enough to me to cause me to want to seek out another IDE. That tolerance level is subjective, of course. People gotta use what makes them happy and makes them productive.

I've had no issues with line numbers, but I agree that it can be somewhat of a hassle. That's the nature of open source plugins into an open source project. Eclipse gets updated, suddenly (fill in the name of your favorite Eclipse plutin here) stops working on the new version. That definitely happens. It's a balancing act between being on the "bleeding edge" of Eclipse or having a stable environment. My compromise is to run both. One of the things I love about Eclipse is that I can have multiple "installs".

Haven't had the issue you describe with searching either. Are you sure that you might not have had a project that contained the text you were looking for closed?

Large files... yeah. I've heard that and encountered that one. Of course, that might be a good impetus to refactor that monolithic file into smaller, more modular, reusable pieces. It's not a bug... it's a feature :D
# Posted By Charlie Griefer | 10/16/08 11:42 PM

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