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Do we really need so MANY plugins in IDEs (Eclipse etc.)?

Timo Patuelli
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 08, 2009
Posts: 6
The number of IDE plugins, especially Eclipse plugins, is permanently growing. New editors for new file formats... New tools to access and administer databases... New tools for UML modeling... New tools for code quality checking... New tools for team work... etc. Quality and functional scope of such tools is often very poor...

Do we really need all such stuff as IDE plugins? Wouldn't it be better to implement standalone tools? What could be criteria to decide, if a tool should be a plugin or a standalone application?

Bauke Scholtz
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 08, 2006
Posts: 2458
An Eclipse plugin at least allows easy integration with existing Eclipse projects.

You do not necessarily need them all though. This makes no sense. Besides, there are indeed fairly lot of poor ones in between. Just install and keep the one from which you think, 'Hey, that's really an useful plugin!'. Just try them out whenever the situation require and remove them when considered poor.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15950
    
  19

Actually, quite a number of tools available for Eclipse and other IDEs such as IntelliJ ARE capable of also being run stand-alone. Jalopy, for example.

Eclipse itself is primarily a shell program. The bulk of its core functions are plugins. You're free to add - or not add - whatever additional plugins you want to to help you do what you need to do.

The 2 primary advantages of plugins over stand-alone utilities are 1) you don't have to go screen-flipping every time you need a utility such as Ant or Maven. You can stay comfortably within the IDE display. Also 2) plugins are generally aware of the IDE environment and therefore integrate into the overall development process more effectively.


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Timo Patuelli
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 08, 2009
Posts: 6
Tim Holloway wrote:
The 2 primary advantages of plugins over stand-alone utilities are 1) you don't have to go screen-flipping every time you need a utility such as Ant or Maven. You can stay comfortably within the IDE display. Also 2) plugins are generally aware of the IDE environment and therefore integrate into the overall development process more effectively.


That's not true!

"1) you don't have to go screen-flipping" - No! With such plugins I do have to flip. And what makes it much worse, such a flipping in Eclipse is worse, than Alt+Tab in Linux or Windows. To use such plugins, I have to switch between multiple views in Eclipse: view with UML model, view with Database metadata, view for SQL execution, view for Reg-Exp builder, view for Ant build files, view for Deployment Descriptors, etc.
Using perspectives for different views with all these plugins does not reduce the complexity essentially. Partially can help opening of multiple Eclipse windows. But this doesn't help, if in one window is running some function with modal dialog, that is not capable to run in the background. In such case all Eclipse windows are disabled.

Running such tools as standalone applications, not as plugins, gives much more freedom and is very flexible. Flipping between such application windows is much faster, that looking for needed view in some perspective in Eclipse.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15950
    
  19

Well, that's why I have a 22-inch screen.

It sounds like you need better plugins. Standard procedure for Eclipse is that dialogs are either modeless, have a "run in background" option, or are related to a short ongoing interactive task such as a wizard where you're not expected to need to look outside the dialog for anything. A dialog that takes over and locks everything else out is just plain rude.

You might want to make friends with these Eclipse shortcut keys:

Shift+F6: next Editor
Shift+F7: next View
Shift+F8: next Perspective.

And don't forget you can open perspectives in separate windows which can be Alt+tab'ed in the ordinary way.

Last but not least, there's Fast Views.

Somewhere about 37 layers deep in my "to-do" stack is a major overhaul of an ORM design tool I did called the EJBWizard. While the primary focus of the next release will be the ability for it to be able to run scripted in batch, I'm also planning to make it function as an Eclipse plugin.
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60752
    
  65

"Timo Timo", please check your private messages for an important administrative matter.


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