Friday, April 18, 2008

the only IDE?

I work with 15 years of legacy code that is written in C and Java.
I've put the part I'm creating into a Netbeans project, but sometimes I need to look at a file that isn't in the project.

The other night I took my laptop home to get some help from my husband with Tomcat problems. He wanted to look at some configuration and other code files. I said, "Open Netbeans. It's the Only IDE You Need."

He tried it and got frustrated. "I don't need all this stuff. I don't want to create a project."

He downloaded Crimson Editor. It's a context-sensitive editor with which you can look at different sorts of files. It also automatically formats them for printing better than Netbeans does. Yesterday I used it to print some of my Java code that I'd been looking at in Netbeans.

So, if Netbeans really wants to be the only IDE I need, they should have an "Open File" option that lets you edit a file without requiring you to add it to a project.

That would be a simple addition.

A more complex one would be to make it easier to integrate reams of existing code into a project. For example, I'm using Java code that calls methods that call "native" methods corresponding to C functions. The "Navigate to Source" utility stops at the "native" declaration. I'd love to follow it to the C function.

I'm using code that was set up with build files and make files, not ant.

I edit it in Netbeans, appreciate the code completion, and the red lines and squares telling me about errors, and little notes. I like the "remove unused imports" and I like being able to invoke a class and have the IDE say "import this class?" without me having to find it and write the import statement at the top. That's great.

But then when I've finished editing, I go over to my Cygwin Unix-emulating window and type "build" to run the legacy build scripts.

I can't currently use the debugger.

It's also more complicated in that I'm working with legacy servlet code, and all the problems occur when I run it from the HTML.

So the only debugging tool I have is writing values to a file and looking at the file later.

Netbeans is set up for people to start projects in Netbeans and do it using the Netbeans-blessed web tools.

It would be great to have a reverse HTML visual editor that would take the legacy HTML screens, put them into a visual editor and let me edit them from there. (Ditto with Java GUI's)
Even better, (or am I dreaming too much?) if it could see the HTML written in Java or Javascript and do it.

Someday maybe I'll get to start a web project instead of being assigned to finish one that had been languishing a year. Then I can try to use the tool the way it was intended. That should be cool.

No comments: