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Programming IT

Does Relying On an IDE Make You a Bad Programmer? 627

Posted by samzenpus
from the speak-up dept.
itwbennett writes "Writing about his career decisions, programming language choices, and regrets, Rob Conery says that as a .NET developer he became more reliant on an IDE than he would have with PHP. Blogger, and .NET developer, Matthew Mombrea picks up the thread, coming to the defense of IDEs (Visual Studio in particular). Mombrea argues that 'being a good developer isn't about memorizing the language specific calls, it's about knowing the available ways to solve a problem and solving it using the best technique or tools as you can.' Does using an IDE make you lazy with the language? Would you be better off programming with Notepad?"
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Does Relying On an IDE Make You a Bad Programmer?

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  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:03PM (#46327175)

    It's easier to learn the language when assisted by an IDE. Qt Creator is my favorite, followed by NetBeans.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:09PM (#46327283)
      I agree. With a good IDE, is easier to discover all the language can do.
      • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

        by XenoPhage (242134) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:11PM (#46327331) Homepage

        Wouldn't this be more of what the API has available? IDE's don't really help you learn the language, beyond semantics, but they are extremely helpful with providing contextual information about API calls.

        • Re: No (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:34PM (#46327645)

          Exactly. This is the way they teach the basics of the language you learn in school. This is why you also get tested on the basics of a language like variables, datatypes, and polymorphism.

          If you never learned the basics ie foundations of programming, you will never use these fundamentals in any of that IDEs you use. I've seen it happen, somebody hasn't learned how to properly separate code functionally and it's all throwing together. They would do this in notepad or they would do it in eclipse or visual studio.

          Your knowledge, skill, and experience make you the type of programmer you are. Good or bad.

          • Re: No (Score:5, Insightful)

            by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:44PM (#46327757) Journal

            Frankly, I don't think what they aid with at all is learning the language (beyond perhaps hovering over core statements like for loops and the like to give you basic syntax). What they do aid with is familiarizing yourself with libraries, but before you delve too far into libraries in any language, you should understand the language itself.

            • by joaommp (685612)

              I don't think so. An IDE is not supposed to help you discover a language or a framework, but rather provide you with a workflow that makes you as productive as possible.

              • Re: No (Score:5, Insightful)

                by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:44PM (#46329799)

                I don't think so. An IDE is not supposed to help you discover a language or a framework, but rather provide you with a workflow that makes you as productive as possible.

                In fact, I've found that trying to learn a language or framework via an IDE can be a very bad thing indeed.

                First, because you don't really learn how the language/framework works, you learn how the IDE's generators and editors work. And frequently automated code generators create some really awful, unnatural code, because they're using one-size-fits-all models rather than intelligence.

                Secondly, because even with one-size-fits-all, there are a lot of features and capabilities in most languages/frameworks that won't be supported. And when someone who's used to having the IDE do all the work tries to go in and manually remedy the situation, the results can be horrible.

                An IDE in the hands of people who know what they're doing can be a tremendous productivity aid.

                An IDE in the hands of cheap untrained monkeys hired because management thought that the IDE could replace experience, skill, and talent is disaster on the hoof.

                You can tell which is which by swapping out the IDE with Windows Notepad. The skilled people will slow down and grumble about having to do everything the hard way. The monkeys will sit around idly weeping, because without the crutch that an IDE affords, they don't know what to do.

        • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:05PM (#46327989)

          Use something like Resharper in Visual Studio and you can learn a lot about the language, as it offers loads of little "this code block can be refactored this way for this reason" hints - shows you just what can be done and why.

          • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

            by Krishnoid (984597) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:59PM (#46329347) Journal

            ... it offers loads of little "this code block can be refactored this way for this reason" hints - shows you just what can be done and why.

            Oh good -- I was worried if and when Clippy would find work again, what with the husband and little staples to feed.

            • ... it offers loads of little "this code block can be refactored this way for this reason" hints - shows you just what can be done and why.

              Oh good -- I was worried if and when Clippy would find work again, what with the husband and little staples to feed.

              Wait, Clippy is a chick?

        • Yes, thanks for the extra detail. Yes, it was more or less what I meant. A good ide greatly facilitates the work of exploring the api of language and thereby find out what it offers.
        • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:16PM (#46328845)

          in XCode the extensive LLVM warnings can reveal a lot of issues that pertain to incorrect usage of the computer language, not just the APIs.

        • by Greyfox (87712)
          Would you need contextual information about the API calls if the API were consistently designed? I remember thinking something should work in a certain way in Java, trying it and having it work that way, back when I was learning the language. Most languages, you learn a few idioms and are basically set. If your in-house software goes off into the weeds, that's really the fault of your developers and not the language.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:24PM (#46327499) Homepage Journal

      Actually, "learning the language" is the one time that an IDE is not the best choice. That's the time you should be trotting out Notepad and developing the skills and familiarity with the language itself.

      Once you've mastered the language, the IDE serves as your reference tool, your refactoring tool, your formatting tool, your reading tool, your analysis tool, and even your testing tool. It makes simple things simpler, which is too simple for someone who doesn't understand the original simplicity.

      A good IDE is a speed enhancer for good programmers. An IDE does not make a bad programmer become a good programmer.

      Look at it this way: would you give a toddler a pair of crutches in order to teach him to walk?

      • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:31PM (#46327589)

        Look at it this way: would you give a toddler a pair of crutches in order to teach him to walk?

        That is an astonishingly bad analogy given the popularity of toddler walkers [amazon.com] and the fact that every child while learning to walk starts buy pulling themselves up next to something and scooting along it's length.

        • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ThatAblaze (1723456) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:49PM (#46327817)

          Look at it this way: would you give a toddler a pair of crutches in order to teach him to walk?

          That is an astonishingly bad analogy given the popularity of toddler walkers [amazon.com] and the fact that every child while learning to walk starts buy pulling themselves up next to something and scooting along it's length.

          Or maybe it's a really good analogy, just a bad argument. That sounds more like it to me.

      • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

        by gordo3000 (785698) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:32PM (#46327599)

        I don't have experience where 100% of what I do is programming, but at times, up to 25 or 30 pct of job was coding, and without an IDE I'd be lost. I can never remember any of the semantics of a given language (and I only use VBA and Python), but I do remember roughly what a language can do and an IDE makes it a lot easier for me to find the exact wording of a call, capitalization, etc.

        I'd be miserable in notepad, getting hung up on typos, or an extra space that gums up indentation. IDEs allow a lot of folks like me who don't program full time to be able to code useful algos when we need them and walk away, not worrying about the time it takes to re-familiarize myself with a language.

        • Please Stop. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by zakkudo (2638939) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:11PM (#46328059)

          99% of the time if you hear someone questioning the utility of using an IDE, notepad was never in the running as a serious option to begin with. Just stop it. Don't say it's name. Notepad is a 24 year old joke stuck in the 90s feature-wise. The runners are programs like Sublime Text, BBedit, Text Wrangler, gedit, Jedit, notepad++, or even vim.

          Just because someone tells you that you should drive your car less doesn't mean they are forcing you to walk everywhere you go on your feet. You can bike. You can ride your motorcycle. You can ride the bus. You can ride an electric bycycle. You can rollerblade. You can ride in someone else's car. You can ride the train. You can fly in a plane.

          Anyone mentioning Notepad seriously in their comments on this article has no knowledge of what a proper text editor is and have an apathy to find out so they can actually contibute meaningfully to the conversation.

          • Re:Please Stop. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:56PM (#46329905)

            Anyone mentioning Notepad seriously in their comments on this article has no knowledge of what a proper text editor is and have an apathy to find out so they can actually contibute meaningfully to the conversation.

            There's a difference between a text editor (and proper or not, Notepad is one) and a code editor.

            IDEs like Eclipse have multiple code editors for different uses such as Java, C, SQL, Python and so forth. In the case of Eclipse, they're usually plugin options.

            Emacs provides code editors but calls them "modes".

            The point is, that a text editor can do generic text, but if you want to type in API calls and generic code, you have to type it all in yourself. A code editor is sensitive to the desired product and can suggest auto-completions for API calls, plug in boilerplate and the like. Back in the Bad Old Days, all we had to create code with was text editors and a stack of manuals printed on processed dead trees. And we liked it. At least until IDEs came along and we liked that better.

            Then there are code "wizards", which are another species of skunk entirely.

            Relying on an IDE doesn't make you a bad programmer. But if you are a bad programmer, you don't just rely on an IDE, you depend on it.

            • by Darinbob (1142669)

              Some of my first programming in 1981 was on an IDE, but then they went away and it was just plain old editors for awhile. When IDEs came back they were crufty animals that were worse in every way compared to good editors like emacs, vi, TPU, etc. But they were used on systems where an IDE made sense: no built in compilers, no built in text editors, no built in searching programs, no built in shell, etc. The problem though is that the IDEs were jealous, they wanted to do everything and refused to work wit

        • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

          by epee1221 (873140) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:39PM (#46328411)

          I do remember roughly what a language can do

          Then it seems you do remember something about the language's semantics. Maybe it's the details of syntax you're forgetting?

      • Look at it this way: would you give a toddler a pair of crutches in order to teach him to walk?

        Is the IDE a pair of crutches, or the (massive, in neurologically unimpaired humans) amount of abstraction handled transparently and continually for you? Nobody walks by reading raw values from their inner ear and various sensory neurons and then writing values to individual muscle groups... Does that count as analogous to having an IDE remind you about standard library functions?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SerpentMage (13390)

        Learning the language with a notepad is IMO a really bad idea. I will give an analogy that I think is appropriate.

        I am renovating our houses. In the past you would use a hammer and nail to assemble the wood. These days you don't. You use a cordless power drill with screws, and glue. I was talking to my sister and in Ecuador they do as well as their areas are earthquake prone.

        My point here is, would you teach somebody to build a house with hammer and nails? Answer no, because it is a passe art. Now before yo

        • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

          by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:55PM (#46329303) Homepage

          " Likewise notepad, VI, emacs are passe arts."

          Comparing Notepad to vim or emacs is like comparing Mayim Bialik to Kaley Cuoco.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Greyfox (87712)
          I use EMACS for all my development. The young'uns at the office are completely lost without a GUI environment and an IDE. Most of 'em probably don't even know what the link phase is. I fix shared library issues for them from time to time. I can use an IDE if I want to, but like to have more control over my build process. You really have to understand, say, maven, to hand-author a maven build file. If I don't understand my tools, how can I resolve problems when they don't work as expected?

          Perhaps knowing w

      • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fwarren (579763) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:50PM (#46329233) Homepage

        Back in the 80's I wrote a lot of code for my Commodore 64 on paper which I would type in later when the computer was available to me. I was in college a few years ago and was required to take a class on Visual Basic. Everyone is class was new to programming or learned with a fancy IDE. We had a test where we had to write a few routines on paper for a test.

        Most students had no idea how to form a line of Visual Basic code. They would just start to type the statement and let IntelliSense give them the proper parameter list and then they would just fill in the blanks. This means they were lazy on if a statement used : or ; or if a variable was one-counter or one_counter or OneCounter. It was a disaster. out of 60 students I was the only one who passed that part of the test.

        It is not that I am against IDEs. But having worked without them, and having to do the edit-compile-execute-debug loop, I conceptually understand what the IDE is doing for me. I have done the heavy lifting and I appreciate what the IDE does.

        The best way to learn what the language can do, is to set down with a manual that has all of the commands and with simple examples, and read it whenever you are in the bathroom. It is much less boring reading something like this when the only competition is staring at the floor.

  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:04PM (#46327189)
  • Yes it does. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I say this knowing next to nothing about programming. So, I might be incorrect.

    • Yes. I say this as a 20 year programmer. I'm quite happy to have my competition toiling away in Notepad while I'm rolling out version 14 :)
  • No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:06PM (#46327221)

    It makes you a bad programmer in the same way that using an automated spell checker on your novel makes you a bad writer.

    i.e. not at all.

    • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:13PM (#46327355)

      I would argue that it's more like relying on Word's grammar checker. The suggested way may be technically correct, but you should still know when the IDE isn't doing it the right or best way. And sometimes something is correct in the local context but incorrect in a larger context.

      • Re:No... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Imagix (695350) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:23PM (#46327483)
        BTW: There was some research done a while back that did show that using spell and grammar checkers improved the bad english-skills people, but actually made the people who were already good english-skills people worse!
        • Re:No... (Score:5, Funny)

          by CCarrot (1562079) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:11PM (#46328071)

          BTW: There was some research done a while back that did show that using spell and grammar checkers improved the bad english-skills people, but actually made the people who were already good english-skills people worse!

          That's it, blame the spelling and grammar checkers...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    See subject.

    • by hey! (33014) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:29PM (#46328305) Homepage Journal

      If you're a bad carpenter, I suppose a powerful saw could make you a worse one. At least it allows you to make a bigger mess.

      I've been a programmer for over thirty years now. When I started out, programming was about figuring out how to do things. Now it's much more about figuring out how to get someone else's code to do something. This shift was probably inevitable, as we try to get systems to do more and more. Very few of us have the luxury of being able to get away with just reading section 2 and 3 of the Unix manual; now we need to work with frameworks.

      It's not like back in the day when you could code your own alternative to qsort as long as it worked; working with a framework's facilities is mandatory if you want the framework to do all the magical under-the-cover things it is supposed to do. We used to read the Unix manuals cover to cover from section 1 (commands) to section 7 (special files). Compilation and linking takes forever on a CPU running in the single digit MHz range, so we had plenty of time on our hands. That small but complete knowledge set, plus emacs, and we were cooking with gas.

      These days you'd need to have loads more *static* knowledge to really know the APIs you're working with.So having things like pop-up parameter entry and a manual for the framework integrated into the IDE is nice.

      But for me, the thing that finally got me away from emacsfor good was refactoring support in IDEs. And that's where the power saw analogy comes in. Refactoring is powerful, but it's also possible to drop down the refactoring rabbit hole and waste a lot of time frobbing around with the code. Refactoring is part of a suite of best practices that have to be implemented together (including source control, unit testing and project management). A clumsy and careless programmer can do a lot more damage with a powerful IDE, a skilled programmer can get more done.

      It takes a lot more discipline, knowledge (of the know-how variety), and professionalism to be a good programmer these days. Back in the day there were very good programmers, and *terrible* programmers, and not much in between. These days there are more programming jobs than there are people gifted at programming, so what you see is a lot of mediocrity. Consequently all those powerful tools are neither a panacea nor a plague. Mediocre programmers will produce mediocre results no matter what they use.

      • If you're a bad carpenter, I suppose a powerful saw could make you a worse one. At least it allows you to make a bigger mess.

        This is exactly right. When Autocomplete first came out, I thought, "wow, this is cool, it makes it easier to find functions in the code." Then it dawned on me that someday people would write code that is impossible to understand without Autocomplete.

        And that day is now. If your code is not understandable without Autocomplete, or using an IDE, then you are a mediocre programmer. You don't know how to organize your code cleanly, so work on that and improve.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Its a tool. Used appropriately you're fine.

    • by lbmouse (473316)

      Just exactly how would one use it inappropriately? Inquiring minds must know.

      • by BootSpooge (61137)

        Hammering in a screw? :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Using it to help you do a task you cannot do without it.

        I.E. when the IDE fails to help you can you still do the job?

        I'd liken it to a surgery robot. I as a non-medically trained person should not assume this will let me perform surgeries.

        But it may help a skilled surgeon quite well but he can take over if the robot crashes where as I cannot.

        Sadly I see most using the IDE as a normal person trying to code like a developer.....

        Personally I use a combination of Vim+Nerdtree+tagbar for C/C++/Python and eclipse

  • by Calavar (1587721) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:08PM (#46327265)
    Who ever said using an IDE is bad? IDEs are powerful tools that improve developer productivity. The problem with the older generation of IDEs (especially older versions of Visual Studio) was that they focused too much on graphical UI builders that produced brittle, often subtly buggy UIs and unreadable code and encouraged the writing of spaghetti code. Remove the useless UI builders, and you are left with syntax highlighting, code completion, code folding, incremental compilation, and lots of other useful tools that increase productivity.
    • by Daetrin (576516) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:24PM (#46327493)
      I'm an okay programmer (I'd estimate that i'm maybe in the 25-50th percentile, far from a star but still able to provide some value) but my memory for names is horrible. I'll often remember there's a function that does X but not remember the name. With code completion i can narrow in on the right function pretty quickly. Without it i'd have to either go check old code to see what function it was i used in the past or do some searches online to rediscover it, either of which would take much longer.
      • by Reapy (688651)

        That was the biggest thing I got out of switching to an IDE. I don't know why but I started writing java in ultraedit (have moved on to sublime text, good stuff) for a long while, but I finally got to the point where I had to refactor a mid sized program and finally got everything going in eclipse.

        I guess I've always been a bit scared of older IDEs and what they might change or move around if I don't know what all the buttons are, but I guess now a days they are great. The refactoring is huge, it feels muc

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      I would say that's true in particular for UI builders that produce code. I find UI builders that produce non-code tend to be better. Glade for GTK+ produces XML for example, just as if you had written it yourself. You can edit it if you want to, or write the XML from scratch and open it up in Glade if you want to fix something visually.

      Xcode/Gnustep has an interesting approach which is worth mentioning. The UI builder does not work like a traditional UI builder, instead you work directly with the actual obj

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      focused too much on graphical UI builders that produced brittle, often subtly buggy UIs

      That's funny, back in the day UI libraries were brittle, often subtly buggy. See also: every dialog box form ever, when you try to use it on a Netbook with a 600 pixel high screen and the UI fails to implement some form of scrolling.

    • by tttonyyy (726776)

      IDEs with any form of wizard for "creating stuff" potentially take away the underlying understanding that a programmer might use to come up with something better.

      But, for code navigation, a good IDE is totally indispensable, particularly with large codebases of someone else's code. What could be more useful than hovering your mouse pointer over a structure variable and having a little window show you how it was declared and what members it has? Or telling you all the places the current function is called fr

  • by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:08PM (#46327271) Homepage

    I remember the days when all real programmers needed was a magnetized pin and a steady hand *puffs pipe*

    • No, no, no! This is Slashdot, we need a car analogy:

      Does relying on pre-made rubber tires make you a bad driver?

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        No, no, no! This is Slashdot, we need a car analogy:

        Does relying on pre-made rubber tires make you a bad driver?

        No, but it does make you a BAD mechanic.. You mean you don't make your OWN tires, mount them with a crow bar, balance them by spinning them on your finger using lead you smelted yourself? Shesh!

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikecase (1991782) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:08PM (#46327279) Homepage
    An using an IDE doesn't make a bad programmer any more than using a table saw makes a bad carpenter. It's just a tool, if it can help you be more productive, why shouldn't you use it?
    • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Polo (30659) * on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:46PM (#46327777) Homepage

      I think a better analogy is that an IDE to a developer is more like a CNC machine to a carpenter.

      It's possible that a CNC machine can allow an experienced carpenter to do his work fast and efficiently.

      But for an unskilled carpenter, I see two possibilities:
      - the carpenter may limit his designs to what the CNC machine can make (no curved wood objects for one example)
      - the fundamentals of carpentry might be ignored (like the properties of natural wood, growth, shrinkage)

      In the context of an IDE maybe like:
      - only build on one platform
      - only create products the IDE way (maybe creating "apps" instead of minimal command line tools or OS internal things)
      - allow the developer to ignore corner cases that are abstracted away with IDEs (memory management? interrupts?)

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:09PM (#46327291) Homepage

    Look, it's nice when you are well versed enough in a language to not have to lookup method/function names, nor their arguments. But let's face it, it's hardly the mark of an amazing programmer to have a photographic memory.

    Programmers solve problems. Being able to understand the problem well enough to develop a solution for it is far more important a skill. Writing well documented code using a uniform style further boosts the quality of the output by helping make it maintainable.

    An IDE is, at worst, neutral in this regard, if not beneficial for assisting in the last point.

  • Eh, I don't think so. IDEs are great and all that and what tools you use doesn't matter in the end; what matters is that your code does what it's supposed to do reasonably-efficiently and without any "misfeatures." These tools usually also allow you to reach your goal faster than if you were to do everything manually, and in many cases time is money -- hobbyist coding being a separate issue. The language, the tools and so on really matter only in cases where you're developing for very limited systems, like

  • Anecdote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dsginter (104154) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:10PM (#46327313)
    When I was in college, I started immediately with an IDE - largely with no development experience. This was a struggle because the IDE was doing things that I did not understand. Ultimately, one of the elder geeks (a properly bearded and pony-tailed Yoda) suggested that I start at the beginning and develop with a text editor and the command line. This worked. Once everything was properly understood, the IDE is useful for saving time and catching typos. But I still need to "go back to the beginning" in order to find out what I am missing sometimes.
  • "Does using an IDE make you lazy with the language?"

    Yes.

    "Would you be better off programming with Notepad?"

    Um, hell no. If you have to ask... Studio and other IDE's make me more productive. That's their job. If I had to fish for declarations of variables every minute and remember all the intricacies of the language, I would, well, be living in the 70's. If I couldn't use an IDE I wouldn't have time to /. QED

  • Apple (Score:4, Funny)

    by GweeDo (127172) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:10PM (#46327319) Homepage

    If only Apple has been using an IDE that looked for unreachable code...

  • Fly By Wire (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:11PM (#46327321)

    IDEs are to programming as anti-lock brakes and Traction Control is to driving, as fly-by-wire is to flying, as any assistive technology is to anything else.

    If they didn't exist, someone would write one because they are so useful.

  • Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Imagix (695350) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:11PM (#46327337)
    Offhand, yes, you are a less effective programmer if you rely on the IDE. I've seen many "programmers" that get completely lost if the IDE doesn't autocomplete everything for them. They have no sense as to how the program as a whole hangs together. (Note the specific phrasing of "rely on the IDE". Not the same as "uses an IDE". Not using the tool is silly. Requiring the tool is the problem.)
    • Re:Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rev0lt (1950662) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:52PM (#46328555)

      Offhand, yes, you are a less effective programmer if you rely on the IDE. I've seen many "programmers" that get completely lost if the IDE doesn't autocomplete everything for them.

      That is a broad statement. Autocomplete is awesome when you're getting your hands into an existing codebase, and quickly need to be productive. It is also awesome when you have medium to big projects (between 500K lines, hundreds of classes/interfaces/whatever, and several million, thousands of classes/interfaces/whatever). I've seen many programmers completely lost at debugging *because* they were using a debugger - they wasted time identifying specific problems in their routines, while the whole approach was unsuitable - they would usually realize it after fixing the routine the first time, instead of looking at their code and trying to understand how could/would fail. Not all languages are equally suited for it, but those that fit the pattern (usually OOP stuff), works well.
      My personal reason to use an IDE is syntax highlighting, project management features, and multi file navigation (it is common to have between 40 and 100 files open). Autocomplete is awesome, but it is a cherry on top of the cake. I could probably work without a full-blown IDE, but it wouldn't be the same thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:12PM (#46327343)

    Also, "Would you be better off programming with Notepad?" No. A decent text editor is a must. Many programmers who "don't use IDEs" actually use text editors which are actually more powerful than many IDEs.

  • All tools have pros and cons. In general, yes IDEs are good. Is it possible to rely too much on a tool, and not understand enough of the language? That's possible, sure. But that's not regarding IDEs specifically, that's just in general. I'm sure there are some old school CLI geeks out there that will thump their VI totems and say the only real devs use text editors, but that's just an extreme, of which there are many. Be a good dev, and use the tools that make you efficient. Don't use them as a crut
  • by glwtta (532858) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:13PM (#46327363) Homepage
    Up next: do you really need source control?
  • by codepigeon (1202896) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:15PM (#46327381)
    It seems to me he is asking if it makes you a bad programmer to rely on auto-complete, not just relying on an IDE in general:

    Mombrea argues that 'being a good developer isn't about memorizing the language specific calls

    As a recent C# convert, I can tell you that for me, it has become quite addicting.

  • New IDEs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snookiex (1814614) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:17PM (#46327407) Homepage
    The problem I see with IDEs like VS is that the hide a lot of complexity to programmers, which is good to boost your productivity, but the fact that you don't really know what's going on inside can back-fire if you are starting as a programmer. I've always thought that it's a good thing to do low level tasks at the beginning so you can build yourself up and don't depend on a specific tool.
    • Exactly. Boosting your productivity is great. But hiding what "it" is doing is not. I started developing with QBasic and soon after Visual Basic, and it took years to understand how you'd develop without a GUI builder. The IDE hid too much complexity, set me up with bad assumptions, and it took a long time to learn what it was doing underneath. Knowing now, I'd have a much better grasp of how to organize code sooner, and I'd be a better developer for it.

      TL;DR = Use them for the productivity boost, not to av

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:19PM (#46327431)

    I'm glad somebody tagged this "idioticstory" because it is. Developers use whatever tools are available. Sometimes if the tools aren't available, they write them themselves. I've used development tools of one kind or another over the last 30+ years, and there are a few I've written myself. Frankly, I think that if you don't use development tools, and don't ever think about writing your own, you're a little like the clueless user who just knows, "I click here, then I click here," without any understanding of what they're really doing or trying to accomplish.

    The use of complex tools is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

  • by inhuman_4 (1294516) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:21PM (#46327457)

    There is nothing wrong with using and IDE, that doesn't make you a bad programmer. Relying on an IDE does make you a bad programmer. Lets face it, there is a lot of boiler plate boring crap involved in programming. Using an IDE to handle the mundane stuff makes a lot of sense. But if you can't do your job without it then you are probably not very good at your job.

    Using a calculator doesn't make you bad at math. Being unable to do math without a calculator makes you bad a math.

  • Not if you need to actually debug it.

  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:27PM (#46327541)
    Relying on an IDE makes you a more productive programmer. Programmers who think they're elite because they use some primitive text editor are simply wasting time. If that's your attitude, why are you writing code on a computer at all? Why not go back to punched cards? Or cuneiform on clay tablets?
  • Would you be better off programming with Notepad?

    If having the most limiting tool available makes you a good programmer, then I recommend using Edlin. Or perhaps punch cards?

  • The answer is: No.

  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:29PM (#46327569) Homepage Journal

    This is just the emacs/vi argument dressed up.

  • Would you be better off programming with Notepad?

    Notepad is crusty and not better than anything. Notepad has a glitchy word wrap, it does not allow different color themes and it does not show line numbers, for starters.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:35PM (#46327649)

    Perhaps if DICE had used an IDE, we could have avoided Slashdot Beta.

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jgotts (2785) <jgotts@gmail.3.14159com minus pi> on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:47PM (#46327791)

    Whether or not you use an IDE ought to say very little about how good of a programmer you are.

    What makes a good programmer is someone who can produce stable, maintainable code in a reasonable time frame and someone who isn't worried about getting fired in order to fight for these goals. One part of maintainability is readable code and the other part is being able to communicate what you've done through documentation, written or oral.

    Over the decades I've found that it makes no difference what tools you use, or what your age or educational or cultural background is. It doesn't matter so much whether you write few or many tests. You need to be patient, stubborn, thorough, curious, a problem solver, a voracious reader, and a great communicator to be a great programmer, and you need to have been doing it for at least 10 years. But companies should not shy away from helping to give someone those 10 years, because the best programmers will still do good work early on in their careers.

    If you write code that just works but is unmaintainable by anyone and you hole up to write your code and you have no ability to communicate what you have done then you are a horrible programmer and you should be fired. There is a myth among some people that these are actually great programmers. These types of programmers tend to be, but are not always, extremely well qualified in terms of their educational or other experience but they make life difficult for all the other programmers that have to maintain their fragile junk. Fortunately, this type of software is less common in the free software community because this type of programming is called out.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:52PM (#46327837) Journal

    Yes. If you were a Real Programmer (TM) you'd focus your mind and flip bits on the motherboard.

  • Probably not. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ttucker (2884057) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:06PM (#46328001)
    Being a bad programmer is a state of mind, leave the tools of the trade out of it.
  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by avandesande (143899) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:12PM (#46328077) Journal

    If you can get the job done and get a paycheck what difference does it make?

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:22PM (#46328207)

    I can tell you from experience from the development side of things that having a good IDE and proficient knowledge of it's features can greatly improve productivity of a team. You still need to know how to compile at a low level and what the various link and compiler options are and you should know how to use a native debugger but if you want to be productive and not worry about the minutia of details then use one. An IDE doesn't make you a better programmer but it does make you more productive and you can focus on learning those nuances and skills within the chosen programming language more easily, allowing you to gain more proficiency.

    The whole "you don't need an IDE" may be true but it's like hunting bears without a rifle. Sure, you can hunt bears without a rifle but if you have one it's much easier and you get less bloody.

  • by Brian_Ellenberger (308720) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:25PM (#46328245)

    I'm surprised that so many of the comments for IDEs are restricted to things like autocomplete. IDEs do far more than that. Things like smart refactoring (beyond GREP/Replace), code searches and navigation (find references, go up and down the object hierarchy, find impls), and debugging (attach to remote process, breakpoints, etc).

  • It depends. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DdJ (10790) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:47PM (#46328505) Homepage Journal

    If the IDE is helping you catch typos and quickly dig out references like method names, that's one thing.

    If the IDE is providing so much scaffolding for your project, "wizards" and such, that you don't actually understand what's going on, that's another thing.

    (I've seen both.)

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:01PM (#46329971) Homepage

    From personal use/observation - they are helpful to get you up and running on a new language or one you have not had much exposure. They catch errors, help with syntax and api calls. But after a certain point they start to become more of a crutch.. almost training wheels. On reason for taking the training wheels off is to prove you actually can ride the bike. The same might be said of an IDE - after some period of time (months? years?) are you able to code without it? Do you really know what it is you are doing? Is the IDE holding back your own creativity?

    Every each case is different, there is no black and white on this but I do think it may be worth stepping away from an IDE from time to time just to make sure you've not become over reliant.

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