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IDE or TextPad?

Jasper Vader
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 10, 2003
Posts: 284
hi there
although i have been studying for java certification already, i am only just about to start studying java during the uni degree i am doing (and all the hints and help i have received here has certainly put me ahead of the game! ).
anyway, they suggest using an IDE such as jBuilder from Borland, but they are okay with just using a simple editor such as TextPad. A friend of mine who is a head programmer laughs about the java guru dudes who just do things with a simple editor, but i like the idea of not using an IDE ... keep things pure and just go with TextPad i reckon - but i don't have enough experience to know for sure.
i guess different situations call for different approaches to coding Java?

giddee up
Dirk Schreckmann

Joined: Dec 10, 2001
Posts: 7023
If you can get away with it, when starting out, just use something simple. TextPad is a good choice. If you understand how things work (such as what source code is and what it means to compile it into Java bytecode with javac and what it means to run the bytecode with java and all the accompanying settings (esp. the classpath)), then figuring out the basics of using a more sophisticated IDE such as JBuilder should be rather simple. In your course you may well be required to make use of JBuilder's debugging features at some point.
A problem I frequently run into is a student that has traditionally only used JBuilder and one day finds themselves facing an assignment that's due soon with a JBuilder problem they cannot figure out. Since they don't understand what happens without JBuilder, they're stuck. Don't be this student. Practice doing it from the command line. Play with the classpath settings. Play with packages. Maybe even explore some of those other settings like the -d and the -sourcepath switches.
With your experiences here at JavaRanch, I'm sure you'll be well ahead of the class. Try not to annoy your fellow classmates too much.
Good Luck.

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Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 22, 2008
Posts: 18944
Dirk is totally right (IMVHO that is). I've been programming for decades (using *nix operating systems) and all I needed were some shell scripts, a decent 'make' tool (I love GNU make) and an editor you're accustomed to (I use vi, don't kill me). Those IDEs do things behind your back you'd love when you start off, but you'd hate them when you need complete control.
If you don't (yet) know what 'complete control' is, don't use an IDE, go and suffer all those nasty little classpath issues, all those little jar thingies and all those little cross-dependencies that creep up in your code.
If you've managed all that, you can switch to any IDE you prefer, because then, and only then, you'll understand what's going on behind your back.
And then you'll enter the wonderful world of J2EE where another magical mystery tour starts off ...
kind regards
Matt O'Toole

Joined: Feb 02, 2002
Posts: 23
Textpad is great -- you should have it on your system anyway, because everyone needs a text editor that works (not Notepad). I have it set in my file associations to open anything that Notepad normally would. It's great for Java editing, with built-in compiler access.
However, the free version of JCreator is just about as simple, but a little more convenient. Mostly it just keeps your files together as projects, and has everything laid out for you in one frame -- compiler, compiler output, and click-on compiler error messages so you don't have to count lines. It's also really fast, like Textpad. The free version doesn't have any of the usual IDE "crutches" like code completion. Finally, it's free, so you have nothing to lose by trying it.
Definately get Textpad anyway, though.
Allan Peak

Joined: Jul 10, 2002
Posts: 7
IMO, TextPad is better when you're learning. The IDE I use (Visual Age) has all sorts of quirky (mis)behavior which gets in my way. I can see where its "wizards" would come in handy, but I'd rather learn "raw" Java first, and struggle with VA later.
Hari Gangadharan
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Joined: Mar 08, 2001
Posts: 73
Textpad is a good choice. Also you can think of using jEdit ( ) with JCompiler plugin. Once you know how to compile and run Java programs and also know how to run programs with package declaration, you can graduate to some IDEs.
I like Eclipse ( ) eventhough it is a huge download. It is free. It is same as the IBM's Websphere Application Developer Studio (WSAD). WSAD costs almost $2000 whereas eclipse is Open source and free. For me it works best since I use WSAD at office and Eclipse at home. I also like JBuilder.

<B>Hari Gangadharan</B><BR>Unix is user friendly..<BR>but it chooses to whom it is friendly with!
karl koch
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 25, 2001
Posts: 388
try netbeans IDE.
get it here
IMHO its better than JBuilder or others IDEs i know.
using a texteditor in beginning is nice but a good IDE can save you quite some time.

Greg Brouelette
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Joined: Jan 23, 2002
Posts: 144
I've used Jext as my editor every day for over 4 years now. It's free, it's open source, and it's written in Java so it works everywhere Java works (Windows, Linux, IBM AIX, SunOS).
It's a nice middle ground between a plain jane text editor and over powering IDE. I tend to avoid IDEs because they tend to insulate you from your code. The worse offender (I won't mention the product) allowed you to write, compile and run Java code without ever producing an actual .java file. If you wanted to look at the actual source code as just a raw text file you couldn't do it without first "exporting" the source code. Well, if I have to "export" to see the .java file then what the hell did I write?
In any case, Jext is a good free tool that holds up to professional use.

For a good Prime, call:<br />29819592777931214269172453467810429868925511217482600306406141434158089
Jasper Vader
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Joined: Jan 10, 2003
Posts: 284
i'm pretty hooked on TextPad, but Jext sounds rather cool too!
David Crossett
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Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 102
I also started Java in the last 6 months. I started out on TextPad and loved it... I wanted to really understand how Java worked at its lowest level (the lowest I cared about, that is). However, I found myself constantly looking up API's just to find out what the heck was available to me. It was good practice, but quickly grew tiresome. I then tried both JDeveloper 9i by Oracle and JBorland 8. For no particular reason, I stuck with JDeveloper. My reason for moving to an IDE was for the 'code insight' - that is, the pop up that tells me almost all methods, etc. available to me. I learned much quicker after that, having much more power at my fingertips. Just my 2 cents!

David Crossett
-nothing important to say, but learnin' plenty-
Barry Gaunt
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Joined: Aug 03, 2002
Posts: 7729
You can play with your actual objects with this.

Ask a Meaningful Question and HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch
Getting someone to think and try something out is much more useful than just telling them the answer.
Jasper Vader
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Joined: Jan 10, 2003
Posts: 284
thanks for the links Barry,
David - you present a compelling case for the more positive side of a good IDE!
Barry Gaunt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 03, 2002
Posts: 7729
BTW, I'm trying the latest Eclipse "out-of-the-box". It seems just right. I've set the key style to "emacs" mode so the move from emacs is easier.
The JUnit integration is very useful.
I agree. Here's the link:
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