General musings on programming languages, and Java.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Eclipse 3.1 User Experience

I gave up using Eclipse in favour of vim and ant some time ago, mainly because I did some work from home, on a 233MHz machine (my faster personal machine was stolen last year), and Eclipse was too slow to be useful there. But now I came across a bug in a unit test, and I can't figure out how to write a unit test to find that bug, so I have to do some debugging. Not having Eclipse installed, the first thing I did was launch jdb and type help, which wasn't too 'help'ful. I googled for how to use jdb, and only found a site that seemed inaccurate or out of date. I had a play with ODB (Omniscient Debugger), but couldn't get it to instrument all my classes, just the particular one I was running. So, I'm back with Eclipse, a fresh download. My first thought is that it seems a bit easier to start up, I don't seem to have to tell it on the command line where to put its workspace, it has a nice dialog. I go to Project->New Project and it has an entry for creating the project from an ant build.xml. I'm staggered. So I go about it and it seems to understand the build.xml properly. Eclipse then decides that I've got 100 syntax errors, merely because I haven't told it that I'm using Java 1.5. Let me check that build.xml.. hmm, I didn't have a source="1.5", but the ONLY compiler available on my system is the 1.5 compiler, so Eclipse could easily have detected that and just moved on. The Quick Fix for the first error seems good though - change workspace compliance and JRE to 5.0, or change project compliance and JRE to 5.0. I select workspace. So Eclipse rebuilds and gives me the following warning: taskdef class edu.umd.cs.findbugs.anttask.FindBugsTask cannot be found Back to the build.xml.. etc. I can't see how Eclipse could fail to find that, seeing as ant can. But hey, maybe if I go to Quick Fix I can tell Eclipse where the findbugs task is. Hmm, Quick Fix is greyed out. Thankfully, that's just a warning, so I'll try to ignore this annoyance and continue with my work. All the other warnings seem to be pretty innocent, unused imports, etc. It does seem that Eclipse is hiding some warnings though, as the errors before and the warnings now list exactly 100. Maybe 100 is the limit. I hope it isn't hiding any important warnings. Eclipse seems to italicise my static import of, which seems like a nice little feature. On further use of the debugger, I see that it is italicising all static methods, nice. Well, I found my bug, mainly that two parameters were the wrong way around, and I've exited Eclipse. I'll still be using vim and ant, but I will keep Eclipse around for its debugger. The build.xml parsing is very handy, but not perfect. I hope Eclipse can improve this. I'll still try other debuggers, but ODB left a sour taste in the mouth - poor documentation. I should have blogged that user experience. Maybe the next one.

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A salsa dancing, DJing programmer from Manchester, England.