Command Line

Posted on March 5, 2011

As any College of Computing student at Georgia Tech will know, we are really brainwashed into loving Java. I love Java. That said, we are also somewhat brainwashed into using the Eclipse IDE (Integrated Development Environment… think Photoshop but for programming) to develop Java. That’s all well and good, but last week my Eclipse installation decided it was through with all of the abuse. I had it set up to develop Actionscript 3 (the programming language behind Flash) and had plugins for several different utilities for my current Java class. Suddenly, I was completely unable to access my projects. That was obviously unacceptable and I took the opportunity to dramatically shift my programming environment to a text editor and command line.

I’m sure everyone (at Tech at least) has heard someone talk about programming in notepad and that’s basically what I am now doing and enjoying. Instead of notepad, however, I’m using MacVIM: a very powerful text editor with plugins for syntax coloration, formatting standards, and color schemes, among many others. I love it and I’m nowhere near using the full extent of its capabilities. Furthermore, this means learning to use the command line (Terminal, in my case) for version control (Subversion is all that I’ve used thus far), compiling (javac, mxmlc, ant), and file management. I have actually found this to be much more intuitive and sensible for managing several projects at once. The Eclipse environment is very structured but I always felt as if I was doing something wrong. MacVIM + Terminal has been very fun to use and I think it’s safe to say I enjoy programming more since abandoning Eclipse. Well, I can’t quite abandon Eclipse because one of my classes is calling for the use of some Eclipse plugins, but I appreciate not being dependent upon it, great as it is.

Irony of ironies, I have just started a new job with Radiant System’s MyFavEats(.com) and they are a Microsoft shop. I had used Visual Studio before to develop for the Gameboy Advance last semester, but this is a very different beast. In reality, developing this C#/Javascript/SQL/ASP.NET beast from Vim and the command line would be an absolute nightmare. In using Visual Studio I’m beginning to rely upon features that I know exist in Eclipse but that I had just never used. Someday when the scale of a Java or Actionscript project escapes my micromanaging ability I’m sure I will return to Eclipse. For now, leave me to my pretty text editor and my streamlined (if crude) command line. Does anyone have any suggestions or experiences to share about Eclipse/Terminal/Visual Studio?



  1. Eclipse is pretty awesome….if i had it on mine id use it..but the command line is super easy to compile and run java. its just javac and java to run. Also you can use TextMate or TextWrangler. Same thing as your editor im sure.

  2. Yup, I also have TextWrangler but I’m afraid it probably won’t get used much anymore. TextMate looks really nice as well. I’m using this setup for both Java and Actionscript development at the moment.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, mysterious BH!