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

IDEs

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.

5 Comments

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 Edit.app, 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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