[Arcana] the travelling salesman problem solved!

Tom Tromey tromey at redhat.com
Fri Mar 21 20:27:32 CDT 2008

Jim> Tom Tromey said that he'd used Eclipse on Java --- the editor
Jim> there really understands the language, too --- and then went back
Jim> to Emacs, with a similar reaction: it's cool, but not actually
Jim> that important in practice.

Sorry -- actually the opposite is true.  I moved all my Java hacking
into Eclipse, despite the fact that its editor component really,
really sucks.

For some things Emacs is still nicer.  But for just mucking about with
pure Java, Eclipse is a lot better.  It automates a lot of things that
add up to a nice user experience.

I'm not sure what my favorite feature was.  Maybe not ever having to
type an import statement or remember the package name of anything.  Or
maybe not having to screw with a build system much.  Or maybe saving a
file and having my package immediately be ready to test, without
waiting around for make.  Or maybe just the twenty other things I came
to rely on.

I like to think that, because I'm a good programmer and I've proved
myself, I deserve to have tools automate all the dumb stuff for me.

But, even not-so-good programmers -- which I often am, all too
frequently -- deserve this.  There's a fun Fedora project where Dave
Jones runs a script over the source tree of the whole OS, looking for
memset(p,len,0) -- and continues to find a surprising number of them.
I like to think that this would be less likely if your tools were more
in your face; I know in Eclipse I rarely screwed up dumb Java stuff
like the order of arguments to System.arraycopy.

Anyway, there's no deep reason Emacs could not do all the same things.
It would probably do it with a lot less weight; writing an Eclipse
plugin is ridiculously hard compared to writing, say, a major mode.

Jim> I use idutils with patches to not go into an infinite loop when
Jim> presented with Emacs Lisp code, and patches to make M-x gid present a
Jim> proper grep-like buffer and to make M-* work after I've chosen
Jim> something from that buffer.

I didn't know about M-*.  A binding a day...

I use idutils too.  It is pretty great, especially for things like
gcc, which are huge disorganized mish-mashes.  Too bad it doesn't do
incremental updates.

For something like C++, though, I dunno.


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