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Programming IT

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

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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  • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:09PM (#46327283)
    I agree. With a good IDE, is easier to discover all the language can do.
  • Re:No... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Imagix ( 695350 ) on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:23PM (#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, Interesting)

    by Polo ( 30659 ) * on Monday February 24, 2014 @05:46PM (#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 loonycyborg ( 1262242 ) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:43PM (#46328461)
    It's a myth that IDEs increase productivity. Maybe they can allow you to pump out code faster, but you want to write as few code as possible anyway. Most of time you should spend thinking on how to write as few code to accomplish your objective as possible, not actually writing code.
  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rev0lt ( 1950662 ) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:52PM (#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.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fwarren ( 579763 ) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:50PM (#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.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.