97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

(Chris Devlin) #1

(^90) 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

Know Your IDE

Heinz Kabutz

iN THE 1980 S, our programming environments were typically nothing bet-
ter than glorified text editors...if we were lucky. Syntax highlighting, which
we take for granted nowadays, was a luxury that certainly was not available
to everyone. Pretty printers to format our code nicely were usually external
tools that had to be run to correct our spacing. Debuggers were also separate
programs run to step through our code, but with a lot of cryptic keystrokes.

During the 1990s, companies began to recognize the potential income that
they could derive from equipping programmers with better and more useful
tools. The Integrated Development Environment (IDE) combined the previ-
ous editing features with a compiler, debugger, pretty printer, and other tools.
During that time, menus and the mouse also became popular, which meant
that developers no longer needed to learn cryptic key combinations to use
their editors. They could simply select their command from the menu.

In the 21st century, IDEs have become so commonplace that they are given
away for free by companies wishing to gain market share in other areas. The
modern IDE is equipped with an amazing array of features. My favorite is
automated refactoring, particularly Extract Method, where I can select and
convert a chunk of code into a method. The refactoring tool will pick up all the
parameters that need to be passed into the method, which makes it extremely
easy to modify code. My IDE will even detect other chunks of code that could
also be replaced by this method and ask me whether I would like to replace
them, too.

Another amazing feature of modern IDEs is the ability to enforce style rules
within a company. For example, in Java, some programmers have started
making all parameters final (which, in my opinion, is a waste of time).

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