When I started out in Java, I spent a few weeks using Netbeans quite satisfied. It wasn’t a life changing experience, but it worked like an IDE should and I happily punched away. After being challenged by a friend to give Eclipse a shot, I did and after a few weeks couldn’t turn back. Something about the package was just “right” out of the box. It felt smarter and like it was willing to work in the same vein that I work. Opening a bracket and hitting enter brought me to an appropriate indentation on the new line. I, of course, didn’t realize these things until needing to open Visual Studio one day and seeing how primitive working in it really was.
With that out of the way, I’ve been happily working with Eclipse on all platforms and not needing much in the way of plugins besides Subversive for Subversion and the occasional specialty tool here or there (Android tools come to mind). So there, everyone is caught up with my fondness of Eclipse, people that see me working on a daily basis might call it more of a fetish but I won’t go that deep into it..
I do have another love affair with a certain text editor though, and it goes by the name of Vi. Like my Netbeans to Eclipse transition, I used to use emacs without thinking much about it. I knew a few of the commands and could get around reasonably well but was never really in love with it (this might have been different had I taken the time to really learn how to use it like a pro). One day I was harassed about using emacs by a friend/Vi user. Not feeling any particular allegiance, I tried it out to shut him up. Just like emacs it was nothing special, but I watched my friend work with such speed that I couldn’t help but want to be like that. I kept using it and reading up on the commands and using the cheat sheets, but soon enough I was getting the hang of it and really enjoying it. What really got me was the sheer ease of moving things around, once the commands became muscle memory I was working faster than I ever had in any modern text editor.
I went along using both applications very happy with each of their strengths but never quite making the connection of putting the capabilities together. That is, until I hit “dd” (Vi’s delete line command) in Eclipse without thinking and was disappointed to see “dd” typed rather than watching my current line disappear. Realizing my mistake I quickly looked up how to delete a line in Eclipse. Sure enough, Ctrl-D came up and I happily went along.
Suddenly I felt that much faster and started feeling my excitement about using Vi coming back. I had now taken my favorite piece of software and started working a bit like my other favorite piece of software. A day or so later, I wanted to cut a line. Once again I was impressed by Eclipse and found an unbound “Cut Line” command which I quickly bound to Ctrl-Alt-X.
What’s the lesson here? Well, besides my underlying love for Eclipse it should really be to spend more time looking for a better way to work. I’ve learned over the last few months what people have been preaching for years, that using the tools you have at hand to their maximum can pay off dividends. I have little doubt that I could set up Netbeans to function in a similar manner to my Eclipse installations, ditto for using emacs or Vi. I’m just glad that I’ve dug deep enough to find what I was looking for rather than simply throwing up my arms with a “bah, it’ll never do what insert application name does”. I feel empowered, maybe some day I’ll tackle my behemoth of an inbox.. but I won’t get ahead of myself, I’m glad for just improving one aspect of my workflow for now. Try it for yourself, it’s a great feeling.