Friday Feb 03, 2006

I \*heart\* Netbeans

I know its, like, \*so\* 3 days ago for me to be writing about Netbeans. But I've never been afraid to be behind the times.

Like the fact that I've been programming with a text editor, println() and nerves of steel for the last however many years. As I was complaining to Gilad the other day, everything has been a disappointment since I had, with Matrix-like digital tears, to be weaned off the cosseted luxury of the Smalltalk environments. Sometimes if you can't have it all, you don't want any of it.

But my long sulk with Java developer tools ended halfway through last year: It started because I wanted to integrate what I was writing (more soon !) with Netbeans for a demo, I had no choice but to succumb to the various beseechings that told me that in any case that I should at least have a passing knowledge of the current tool.

I started out using ONLY what I HAD to. Harrumph ! But as the weeks rolled by (this was on some pre-final build of 5.0, mark you) I felt myself being suckered into the darn thing. Why, I hear you cry? Let me break it down:

1) The refactoring tool
An endless quest for the perfect class/method/variable name. Its my OCD. Only in the olden days, it really was painful enough to be considered a digital form of self-punishment. Sometimes running javadoc would shame me into an afternoon of this programmer's equivalent of handwashing: rename, javac, mistake, rename reference, javac, rename.... Now \*on a whim\* I can rename anything I want. I do it as I go !

2) javac is restored to its proper function
I suppose I had started to forget, until I noticed the helpful squiggly lines and symbols in Netbeans telling me I'd made a mistake, that the real reason for javac was to make .class files so I could run my code. And NOT as a way of catching all the slapdash syntactical and reference errors in my sloppy source code. My javac gets morning and afternoon naps nowadays.

3) I \*Heart\* the code completion
Did you know that NetBeans does a \*better\* job of this than Visual Studio .NET ? Much as I enjoyed using flagship search engine capabilities to trawl the world's knowledge base for the API doc for JTree in nanoseconds, NetBeans neatly trumps this ace by popping up a list quicker. And in a scrolling-popup-combo-list doodad that listens to what I'm typing, Jeeves to my Wooster, and neatly slips away when not needed.

So if like the old me, you're still working with inadequate tools: listen to the wise words of the Ikea marketing team:

Its time.

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dannycoward

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