97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

(Chris Devlin) #1

(^86) 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

Know How to Use Command-Line Tools .................

Carroll Robinson

of integrated development environments (IDEs). Microsoft’s Visual Studio and
the open source Eclipse are two popular examples, though there are many oth-
ers. There is a lot to like about IDEs. Not only are they easy to use, but they
also relieve the programmer of thinking about a lot of little details involving
the build process.

Ease of use, however, has its downside. Typically, when a tool is easy to use,
it’s because the tool is making decisions for you and doing a lot of things auto-
matically, behind the scenes. Thus, if an IDE is the only programming envi-
ronment that you ever use, you may never fully understand what your tools are
actually doing. You click a button, some magic occurs, and an executable file
appears in the project folder.

By working with command-line build tools, you will learn a lot more about
what the tools are doing when your project is being built. Writing your own
make files will help you to understand all of the steps (compiling, assembling,
linking, etc.) that go into building an executable file. Experimenting with the
many command-line options for these tools is a valuable educational expe-
rience as well. To get started with using command-line build tools, you can
use open source command-line tools such as GCC, or you can use the ones
supplied with your proprietary IDE. After all, a well-designed IDE is just a
graphical frontend to a set of command-line tools.

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