A few weeks ago, I had a project where I switched from the comfort and all-encompassing world of C# development with Visual Studio to Linux land. It reminded me of programming in the dark ages. Opening every file in a basic editor that knows nothing about the code. No code completion. No “Go To Definition” or “Find in Files” (grep? seriously?). No bookmarks. The constant switching between gedit, command consoles, and file browsers was exhausting and time-wasting. My friend Steve was just accustomed to it.
I started researching an IDE. Since we were running “make” to do cross-compilation, I wasn’t worried about integrating the build process. Still, I wanted to see if I was crazy or if I was right that an IDE would help me focus on the job at hand rather than on finding the right code to modify. After much reading, I settled on something small and easy to install that several people recommended – code::blocks. It has the basics of any reasonable package: projects, solutions, bookmarks, easy switching between files, Find in Files, etc.
Suddenly, even though I was in the world of C, which is light-years behind C# development (no flames, please), at least I could work more productively. I know that die-hards will probably use vi or emacs (I was a big emacs user back in my unix days) and using all the basic tools available in unix/linux, but I think they’re missing out on the possibilities of not needing to do it all yourself. Let an IDE give you a hand. It’s not a crutch to lean on, it’s a step stool to start from.