Tuesday, May 25, 2004

How much do you use your tools?

To what extent do you use the tools at your disposal? We were involved, for the longest time, in writing a set of productivity tools for developers. We had excellent competition but our experience with our customers and their users was always that people knew very little about their tools and its capabilities.

How much do you know your tools? I have used IntelliJ Idea. Its a brilliant IDE. I have seen other people use it. They suck at it. They could as well use any other text editor with code completion. They have no idea what Idea can do for them (no pun intended).


Ramesh L. said...


Anonymous said...

Extensively - besides the awesome navigation abilities, to my mind, using IntelliJ is similar to using a higher-level language. I too, however, see a lot of developers who don't take the time to learn faster ways of doing things, patiently right-clicking to copy and paste when a quick Shift-Home, Shift-Ctrl-Right, Ctrl-C, Alt-TAB, Ctrl-V does the job three times faster.

Having this speed for renames, inlining, method extraction, etc. has made my coding feel a lot faster. Even now that I'm having to use Eclipse (which is not as good as IDEA, but getting better - mainly because of its inferior parser doesn't allow you to refactor when there are syntax errors) I find I take lots of shortcuts.

I rarely write out variable types, for example - I type out the initial value (say, getValue()), select it with Shift-Ctrl-Left, Shift-Alt-L to create a local variable, type its name and hit enter. In IDEA, I'd just use type auto-completion (along with its handy Ctrl-Shift-Space typecast auto-completion), but the type selection dialog doesn't appear fast enough in Eclipse. (I type at 90+ wpm.)

After this, pecking away in a text editor seems like punishment.

Occasionally, I wonder whether I should just be using a higher-level language! I'm a big fan of strong typing, though, it feels like tiny-scale unit testing.

Do you think that the personality that bothers to learn all the 'vi' commands (and then shuns GUI editors) is that which would benefit most from tools like IDEA? That would be ironic.