I thought I knew Eclipse, the popular Java IDE, pretty well -- until I recently attended a training class.
I now realize that IDEs, especially those with plugins, are so large and sophisticated that they are veritable cities on our desktops. Some comparisons:
Options. For a given interest (e.g. books, musical instruments, Thai restaurants), large cities provide a million outlets. You might think that you know your city pretty well, but invariably when 2 people find a common interest, they share cool places.
Hey, you like Thai right -- have you been to Thai Kitchen, over near the....In the class, I discovered the same is true for IDEs. There are a million shortcuts, plugins, and time-savers. We think we know them all, but we don't. I learned this week that when 2 Java geeks start to talk IDEs:
A: Hey, do you know how to change the syntax colour for a compiler warning?Tip #1: Whether it be a class, a Java SIG, or a news group -- talk about your IDE with other people! Find your "peeps" and learn. You'll be amazed.
B: Sure, just go down to Preferences at the Corner of Project and Refactor.
Eyes Wide Shut. All too often we go about our daily lives and never look at anything. We don't see. I took a community college class in world religions, where the prof rattled off dozens of churches, temples, monasteries, etc. I was stunned at how many of them were on popular streets in St Louis. I had passed them many times but never paid attention.
It is the same way with Eclipse. There are so many buttons and menus that we tend to focus on the ones we know. And yet there might be a great, useful button on that toolbar that is just waiting to be found... Just like that outstanding Sushi bar downtown.
Tip #2: Take time to explore your IDE. Treat it like a city and take a tour. Wander off the beaten path of your daily routine.
ps. Here's a couple of Eclipse tips, on me... (a) Use Ctl-Shft-L in any perspective to get a list of shortcuts for that perspective (b) Ctl-Shft-T is a fast way to open a class and see its hierarchy