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Re: Can Emacs beat NetBeans or Eclipse?


From: Galen Boyer
Subject: Re: Can Emacs beat NetBeans or Eclipse?
Date: 18 Dec 2007 20:03:01 -0600
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3

On Wed, 12 Dec 2007, address@hidden wrote:
> Guys,
> 
> I'm an emacs newb. I've been using vi for text editing for years and
> Eclipse or Netbeans for Java development, but have finally promised
> myself to learn emacs. The motivator for this is really to not die
> without knowing it, and to learn what's on the other side of the fence
> (and to perhaps find a new, warm, welcoming home for my editing
> needs).
> 
> What I'd like to understand is where emacs hits the "text editor" wall
> when it comes to Java development. I've already looked at it's Ruby
> support (my other current language) and it looks very strong, but in
> terms of Java development I'm betting that there is a point you reach
> with emacs where you can go no further. For example, debugging Java,

Right now, Eclipse wins this battle, hands-down.

> refactoring Java, and deep insight into Java data structures for
> navigation, refactoring, etc.

Its not that you can't go any further, its just that somebody has to
take it further.  Join up on the JDEE list.  It looks like new
development will be picking up quite soon.  Paul Kunnican brought the
JDEE to where it is today.  He deserves tons of kudos from all users and
gets plenty as well, but, alas, Paul has encountered other committments
so is starting to hand off the torch to others.

I can tell you when I was coding java, I used Emacs/JDEE and Eclipse
closely together.  I would code up the file real fast in Emacs and then
load it into Eclipse to use the up-to-the-minute error notification to
fix any left-over issues.

> NetBeans, Eclipse, and other Java-based Java IDEs have an easier time
> with understanding the semantics of Java, I'd wager, simply because
> they *are* Java.

Its more related to the fact that those guys are running in a JVM and
therefore can use java's reflective capabilities directly.  The JDEE
creates a beanshell JVM as a process and sends executable java through
its shell interface executing compiled java which returns elisp
structures that are then evaluated back into the JVM.  When its humming
along, its pretty slick.  Context sensitive dropdowns, compilation
buffers with enter taking you to the line of error, all sorts of
built-in coding macros and support for alot of off-the shelf java
goodies.  

> I guess what I'm looking for is to understand: what can you do, as a
> java developer, in NetBeans or Eclipse that you can't do (reasonably)
> in emacs?

More than anything, I could work with other developers seemlessly
because they all used Eclipse.  I was at a disadvantage because java was
not my profession, so I had to use Eclipse just to be able to enlist
help from others when needed.  IMO, if the entire team were good at
Emacs and we all used it, the team would have been much more productive.
I've yet to work on a team to test that theory out, but, if all users
were using Emacs, my theory is then everybody would be sharing elisp
code as part of their professional day. Everyday, the team would be
getting more productive.

Eclipse worked great, unless it didn't.  If/When it croaked, nobody
understood the guts.  You can write plug-ins in Eclipse, but that seems
to be as close to the guts of Eclipse as you will get.

A thing that you will notice about Eclipse users is that most of them
are completely lost when Eclipse does not support their needs.  If they
have to look at a text file or execute shell prompts or edit something
not easily editable by Eclipse, they will just end up not doing it.
With Emacs, you just never have that problem.  Emacs is built on being
able to be as close to the operating system as a user can be, and
augmenting that interface with nice usability features, not replacing
those tried and true methods.  Take shell for example.  Emacs doesn't
try to replace the shell prompt with "something easier to use".  Emacs
instead, augments the shell prompt giving the user the ability to
seemlessly operate in a shell buffer.  I find the shell prompt extremely
easy and always available.  I'm in a shell prompt and using it all day.
For most all non-emacs users, a shell prompt is deemed archaic.  Well,
if I have to use cmd.exe or ksh as my interface, then, yes its archaic.
But, I have Emacs augmenting those interfaces and with that
augmentation, I have the power of the shell with the power of Emacs
combined.  The shell is a very powerful tool and Emacs makes it a
pleasure to use.

> Thanks guys! I appreciate the guidance!
> 
> John

-- 
Galen Boyer


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