Classic 'switch' story

I read an amusing couple of posts from a recent evaluator of IDEA. He
starts off very skeptical, being a fan of Eclipse, but soon starts to
see IDEA's benefits. Check out:

Do many of you have colleagues like this? I get the feeling (from
reading various blogs) that lots of people initially feel some
discomfort switching to IDEA.

Rob Harwood
Software Developer
JetBrains Inc.
"Develop with pleasure!"

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Actually I was the one who feels uncomfortable when I first tried IDEA. I could not create a new class! I was going to uninstall it, and then I think so many prise to the IDE should deserve 5 minutes manual reading. So I took 5 minutes to read the online help, and then I'm enjoying the pleasure with development...

The bad news is my company is using C# now and I'm expecting a full IntelliC#, instead of the VS+resharp...

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This is interesting, and it sort of leads on from some thoughts I've had recently. I guess I've been using IDEA about 2-3 months now, so I'm starting to get the hang of it, and I want to learn to use it better. When I first started I really liked it, but I did have to be persistent. It has some aspects that aren't at all flexible or intuitive (lack of window docking is a big one for Eclipse users, for example).

And yeah, I tried to convince some co-workers to try it, but didn't have a lot of luck. Basically I was willing to work to like IDEA having read a lot about it, but for a newbie the benefits aren't immediately obvious (see the blog posts about being unable to explain why IDEA is better), and the things that seem irrelevant seem a lot more important. For example, when I posted about window docking in the forums, I got a strong "so what?" feeling, and I think it's important to realise that if you're new to something and can't immediately see why it's so amazing, then small things like that can make or break an evaluation. And everyone who loves IDEA knows that it's the small things that make all the difference.

What I had been thinking about is the lack of a resource to allow intermediate users of IDEA (like me) advance to a level where IDEA really does make a difference. Basically I use IDEA to cut code, I use the basic refactorings, and that's mostly it. I'm not doing anything that I couldn't do in Eclipse. IDEA 'feels' nicer, and some things I'm sure I would miss, but it's not a life changing experience yet. I'd be interested to know what the advanced users of IDEA think are the things about IDEA that make it indispensable.

And I really like the idea (hyuk hyuk) of what Alexi Efimov is doing in the link in his comment in your blog. Something like that is really useful to show how IDEA is useful. Things like the refactorings are described in the help but are a pain to print out (a PDF version of the help would be excellent), and they lack use cases to show why and when each one is useful. Arguably that doesn't belong in the help, but there's a big need IMO for this sort of intermediate documentation. I'm still not entirely clear how I should be using Inspection Gadgets either, for example.

So, c'mon folks. Show me how to use IDEA to do everything I ever wanted and more.

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I meant to write this post for a long time, but since we are on this topic, I like to pitch in my 2 cents... I hope the JetBrains guys are listening.

First, I am a BIG fan of IDEA. Ever since one of my co-workers showed it to me a couple of years ago, I have been hooked. I think it is the BEST IDE in terms of usability and its "intelligentness". I have NO problem whatsover with its performance and as everyone has attested, IDEA doesn't get in your way. In fact, it almost knows what you want to do next in terms of writing code.

But overtime, I got frustrated with its lack of plug-ins. Sure there are plug-ins, but most of them are either: 1) out-of-date, 2) not useful at all, or 3) some commerical trial version that costs lots of money. The important ones (for me at least) like Hibernate, Spring, JBoss, Subversion, Tapestry just don't exist or are simply out-of-date. For example, subversion plug-in was last updated in 09/04 and Hibernate was last updated in 06/04. When you look everywhere, all the plug-ins nowadays are built for Eclipse. And when you compared that IDEA costs $499 vs. $0 for Eclipse, I decided reluctantly to give up on IDEA and move to Eclipse.

My experience so far is that Eclipse is "good enough". It is not as "smart" as IDEA and I really hate the interface (e.g. views, perspective get very confusing). But it works and it lets me get the job done. It also has so much momentum that I am afraid it will kill off IDEA eventually.

I hope the JetBrains team are listening. Although it is nice to see people switching over to IDEA, I wonder how many are switching the other way. I am one of them. And for me, if IDEA has at least half as many decent plug-ins to make my life easier, I am more than willing to fork over my own hard earned money to get a license. I seriously think that JetBrains should have focus on rearchitecting their plug-in architecture instead of building a GUI designer in the last major release. Until then...



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