Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Eclipse: Great or Overrated?

I've been working on integrating Openfire and vBulletin, to allow a vBulletin based community to have a full fledged instant messaging service. It's been challenging at times, but mostly fairly easy. I'd already done some work learning how to authenticate with a vBulletin community. My biggest problem has been, surprisingly, Eclipse.

I've been actively coding on this since, roughly, the beginning of November. I followed the documentation from the Ignite Realtime site to configure my Eclipse workspace. This was my first time using Eclipse, so I had nothing else on my machine to conflict with it.

In the time that I used it, I found my workspace corrupted so badly that I had to destroy the entire workspace, along with my Eclipse configuration files, and reconfigure from scratch, just so that Openfire would run again.

Now, it's easy to believe that I was misusing the tool. I may have been. So far as I know, though, I was not. I loaded files. I edited the files. I saved the files. I compiled the project. I ran the result. I never used the class explorer, never figured out why the autocomplete would show results when I didn't care (and not help when I did), and never ran the debugger.

Yet, my workspace got corrupted. So, I rebuilt from scratch. The same thing happened again, and I rebuilt from scratch again.

The third time, though, was the killer. Openfire has a web interface.  I could no longer access it. I kept getting NullPointerException errors. I rebuilt the whole workspace from scratch. Same problem. I deinstalled Eclipse entirely, reinstalled, and built from scratch again. Same problem.

I gave up, and went to Emacs. After a day, I had a simple configuration file that allowed me to build and run Openfire successfuly. It even worked across multiple machines with minimal effort.

I've long known that people love Eclipse, and consider it to be the default way to build Java based applications. I'm not one of those people though, and am not going to bother anymore. It's just not worth it.

For me, at least, Eclipse is very overrated.

1 comment:

Gregory said...

I feel your pain.

For me, Eclipse is both great AND overrated. I have lost so much time dealing with IDE integration issues I am beginning to rethink it's role for me as well.

Whether it was missing some plugin, integrating with maven improperly, or generally 'straying outside the happy path', there just seems to be too much "behind the scenes" complexity that is too fragile.

Much of what eclipse brings to the table is wonderful - refactoring, code navigation, etc... However, having the 'IDE' be the "driving force" rather than build-scripts and code drive how the IDE should work isn't working very well for me.

It drives me nuts and I still use it, but maybe not for much longer.

Time to brush up on my emacs I think.