As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I've been doing some Java work here and there. I don't mind it, and I even welcome the chance to get reacquainted with Java every now and then. For now, the tooling I'm using is a mixture of Vim, the command line, and Eclipse. It works OK, but it hasn't been a fully pleasant experience.

First I ran into a bit of trouble getting the Eclipse debugger to work with Tomcat and getting the project system setup just right. Turned out I was using the wrong project type (!) and once I fixed that I was able to work much better. The Eclipse debugger still sucks, particularly if you've been spoiled by the VS debugger, which, even with it's faults and limitations, is still very good and extremely usable compared to some other tools.

The "feature" that I have come to rather dislike about Eclipse, however, is Perspectives. I don't mind the core idea; it makes total sense: Have a way to configure different settings and options in the environment (particularly around window & UI layout and available options) based on a given context.

However, I find that the way Eclipse implements Perspectives gets in the way I work, for a few reasons. The first one is that there are just too many perspectives, some of which don't quite make sense to me. For example, I see very little reason to have completely different perspectives for Java and Java EE; they share to much in common. Also, the choice of which perspectives are easily accessible (that is, through the Window -> Open Perspective menu option) seems pretty arbitrary and doesn't always work out well (not too mention the fact that the contents of said menu depend on what the current perspective is, which doesn't help).

What I found more annoying about perspectives, though, is that switching between perspectives is a manual process most of the time, which seriously reduces their usefulness, as you have to constantly go through the UI to change the perspective back and forth. For example, Visual Studio also has something similar to perspectives, in the sense that the UI can be customized for certain contexts (such as when coding and when debugging), but the fact that those contexts exists is mostly transparent to the user: Visual Studio will switch between them automatically based on actions you make in the UI, such as starting the debugger. Not so with Eclipse. For example, the Debug perspective doesn't [always] activate automatically when you start the debugger, which I've found pretty annoying.

On the other hand, it's possible I'm just using it wrong ;-)

Technorati tags:

Tomas Restrepo

Software developer located in Colombia.