Friday, June 8, 2007 [Tweets] [Favorites]


Brent Simmons:

I’m a Cocoa programmer, so I use Xcode all the time. Sometimes I wonder if I don’t really like it, or if it’s just like that I don’t like IDEs. Programmers are intelligent people and sophisticated computers users, so you’d think that they would be more productive and happier with a literate interface instead of all this heavyweight point-and-click madness. You’d think they would demand it.

I don’t like working in Xcode, either, and yet there’s no doubt that Xcode 2.4 is much better than previous versions of Xcode, Project Builder, and ProjectBuilder. And, from what I can remember, I mostly like it better than CodeWarrior, Visual Studio, Symantec, and THINK C.

I don’t really know what to “demand” to make Xcode better. It just doesn’t feel right, and I think Brent is correct that the problem is that it isn’t linguistic enough. So I’ve opted out of it. Rather than use Xcode as an IDE, I use it as a build engine, controlled via make from either BBEdit or Terminal. When I need a debugger, I tend to just fire up gdb by itself. What I’d like from Xcode is more hooks so that external editors can leverage its symbol index and display build errors.


The problem with Xcode is, indeed, the text editor. I tend to think early Metrowerks CodeWarrior 1.x was and remains the high point of Macintosh IDEs. (2.x brought in tons of bloat and an ugly UI change.)

I agree wholeheartedly with your last statement.

Yeah, I liked the early CodeWarriors, before they reset the version number and it started to get bloated and ugly.

Of course it's better than older IDEs, but frankly, I wouldn't say that it's better than other modern IDEs like Visual Studio .NET or IntelliJ (both of which I kind of prefer to Xcode, although that may be because I spend more time in them). Xcode simply seems pretty messy.

LKM: To be clear, I was comparing it with the last Visual Studio that I used, about ten years ago. I haven't used Visual Studio .NET, but from the demos it looks pretty nice.

I liked how things worked back in the NeXT days, when ProjectBuilder was just for managing files. The debugger was gdb in a Terminal window, and the editor was, or whatever else you wanted to use.

Much lighter weight.

Also, the documentation was in rtf files, not html, which I think I preferred.

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