As a consultant, I’m very often forced to use Eclipse as a development environment, and every time I do, it’s such a pain for me that I can’t help complaining about the poorness of this thing. And every time I do, most of my team mates, who have been brainwashed by the monopolistic propaganda of Eclipse, just keep asking me what’s wrong with it. And sometimes it’s hard to explain because it’s really a matter of user experience. And each time I find a specific example, I get answers like “yeah, but that’s just one thing”, or “I’ve never had that, you’re not lucky”, or “this is just because you’re not used to the Eclipse way of doing things”, or even the worst one “maybe yes, but it’s free!”. Since when is “free” a feature?
Right now, I’m reading the SpringSource dm Server getting started guide, and I was very surprised to read that SpringSource guys, who aren’t exactly stupid, and seem very experienced with Eclipse itself as they have based all their development tools on it (Spring IDE, STS, etc.), talk about what they call the “Eclipse Dance”. I didn’t know about the expression but I’ve definitely danced it more than once: every now and then, Eclipse views get all mixed up, some views indicate errors in a file, while other views on the same file say everything is OK. Or you get a message saying that it cannot find a class where you have the source in front of your eyes. Or like now, I have 2 maven projects at the same level referencing the same parent POM, and one of the projects says it can’t find the parent artifact, whether the other one seems to find it without problem. And when that kind of things happen, the only thing to do is to try a combination of closing all projects and reopening them, clean all projects to force a clean build, or even restart the whole Eclipse workbench. WTF?
How can SpringSource support such a poorly designed environment while admitting such unacceptable bugs? Oh yeah right! It’s free, so everybody uses it. This is really the perfect example of when Open Source can also kill innovation instead of fostering it. It’s free so everybody uses it, including corporate customers, so all tool vendors base their tools on it (Spring IDE, Flex Builder, Weblogic Portal Workshop, etc.), so even more people use it (even if they have better tools in their bag), and we’re screwed.
I would love that framework vendors focus first on command-line integration with tools like Maven and Ant, and then provide IDE integration for a few popular environments, including Eclipse, Netbeans, and my personal choice, IntelliJ IDEA. This would reinforce competition between IDE vendors instead of killing it while considerably lowering the barrier to entry to their frameworks. Right now, SpringSource is lucky I really need to understand more about dm Server, because if it had been only for cusriosity’s sake, I would have given up already just because of the tight integration with this crappy Eclipse thing and all the pain I have to make it work consistently.
So if you’ve already been in that situation, and you start to think there’s gotta be a better way, try out IntelliJ IDEA.
PS: I’m not related to Jetbrains in any way. I just happen to be a very happy customer of theirs, happy to pay a few hundred bucks every year to get their latest version, because as a Jetbrains guy said it last year at Devoxx, “IntelliJ iDEA is the only IDE worth paying for.”