Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

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#1 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Post icon  Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:52 PM

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Recently, we've been getting a lot of discussion in some various threads about the merits and demerits of using a full-blown IDE (like NetBeans or Eclipse) vs. a text editor when learning Java. Do IDEs help or hinder newbies learning to code? Should they first be exposed to a text editor without a lot of fancy features to learn how to set things up? What is your opinion?
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#2 farrell2k  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:00 PM

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Programming is difficult enough, and debugging is even worse. Avoiding tools that make both of those easier makes no sense. It's not the 90s anymore. :)
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#3 Ryano121  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:01 PM

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I think most people here would happily say new programmers should use a text editor so they really know the syntax and the compilation process without so much help from an IDE etc etc etc.

This is all valid in theory, but in reality? Not so much.

I reckon the biggest challenge facing new programmers is not all the new syntax and logic, but maintaining motivation to keep on going when something doesn't work - be that a compilation error or a logic error. Using the command prompt can be very intimidating to new users. If they have many errors it spits out a wall of text that many find completely unreadable.

I kind of hate to say it but I think many new programmers need an IDE to bring them through that period - to keep them motivated. Most of the time their errors are simple - missed a semicolon or brace somewhere. An IDE makes it very easy to rectify that. It will underline the code and give the message. If you give a bit of code with a few errors to a new programmer in an IDE, I reckon most of the time they could figure out what's wrong. On the other hand give them a command line error screen and notepad, I think the chances of giving up get much much higher.

It kind of depends on the person. Some people like to know all about the internals of the system, others don't care until they come across it and have to know about it. At the end of the day if you program for any piece of time in Java, be it in an IDE or not, you will get to know about the internal workings - perhaps just on a different time scale.

I would love to say that all new programmers should user notepad and the command prompt, but for your average new user I don't think it would out too well.
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#4 pbl  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:01 PM

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Notepad and > JAVAC are the real good way or learning
Now is learning really important ? that is another question. I am sure members like farrell2k will say no :)
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#5 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:07 PM

I believe it depends on the language, & the experience level of the developer.

If someone is writing hello world for Java, do they really need the ide? If they do, then maybe programming is over their head.

But I also come from a system admin background, & the idea of editing a config file in an ide is ludicrous, so I just got used to not using them.

Now, if you are creating a full blown environment such as an MVC, a framework, or anything .NET related, I'd say use an ide that will house the entire project.
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#6 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:10 PM

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I personally take a middle ground. I think new programmers should be introduced using something like a text editor (Notepad++ or similar) or a lightweight IDE (like JCreator). I think a lightweight IDE that doesn't provide things like code completion provides a tool that makes it easier to find errors without providing a crutch.

I think it's important as well to remember that new programmers are working on small projects, and most likely haven't been introduced to a formal debugger yet. A full-blown IDE and a debugger to go along with it are there to help organize large projects.
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#7 conure  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:18 PM

I'm very new, but having tried both I have opted for Netbeans. It helps me realise where I've done wrong - it doesn't do things for me, but it does highlight problems in my code and I consider it an invaluable learning tool.

I haven't tried any of the advanced functions, I effectively just use it as a notepad editor that gives me hints about my mistakes.
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#8 Tayacan  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:21 PM

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Actually, I'd argue that a language that is "hard" to write in without the crutch that an IDE provides, might not be the best language for a beginner at all - but that is, of course, an entirely different matter.

I never had the experience of starting out in Java - I learned Python (written in Notepad++) as my first language, and only started learning Java about 1 year ago in high school. I used eclipse, and my programs compiled and all was great - however, when I started on a Java course at uni last week, it occurred to me that I actually had no idea what a class declaration should look like in Java, because I had never typed one! So I shut down the fancy IDE, and started up my beloved Vim.

I gotta say, it's not hard to write Java code without an IDE. It's quite a lot of boiler plate code, but still. Here, I'll prove it to you:
public class main
{
  public static void main(String[] _)
  {
    System.out.println("Hello, World!");
  }
}


I just typed that in, all by myself. I haven't even tried to compile it, but I bet it would. Cool, huh? That's what you get from actually having typed in some code. The ability to type something in, and declare in a loud, confident voice: "This will compile."

That being said, I don't think it harms beginners to start with an IDE - they'll just have more to learn later on.
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#9 arachnojava  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:24 PM

I teach an introductory Java programming class from time to time, and I always start out the very first week just using a text editor and the command line tools. This way, students get a much closer look at the compilation process and understand the difference between source code files and those containing compiled code. That's an important distinction to understand when you're ready to deploy an application, and an IDE will essentially hide those details unless the programmer cares enough to dig around a little.

Of course, I don't want to torture them with an unnecessarily complicated process, so we switch over to an IDE starting in the second week. By this time, they should already understand what happens during compilation, so it's OK to let the tools take over some of the responsibility.
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#10 Zoquo  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:29 PM

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Quote

I think new programmers should be introduced using something like a text editor (Notepad++ or similar) or a lightweight IDE (like JCreator).
I very much agree. I am very thankful that I got started on JCreator rather than something like Eclipse or Netbeans. It forced me to use the documentation and really know what I was doing without holding my hand too much.
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#11 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:34 PM

I started with a text editor and continue to use one to this day. I learned well that way and I know what I need to do in a number of languages now. C/C++ and most other things by me are written in VIM. I use Eclipse at work for Java, but I don't write that much Java, so I don't use it often. Text editors are a great way to learn something through and through; I highly recommend using them.

True, debugging is a pain at first, but then you learn what the errors mean and what can be the cause of them and you quickly get to the point where you can just pick them out based on a glance. I find that I am quicker at debugging code than friends of mine who are using debuggers. I also find that I normally have fewer errors.
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#12 AdamSpeight2008  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:36 PM

I wanna drag n drop controls on a GUI surface. So my cool app looks the dogs nutz.

Don't wanna laern of that boring Algorithm and Variable text stuff too boring, I just wanna make my totally rad touch-enable MMORPG and put on the Marketplace so can earn some mulla tonight.

U gizus t' codez rite.

This post has been edited by AdamSpeight2008: 30 November 2012 - 01:38 PM

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#13 farrell2k  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:37 PM

View Postpbl, on 30 November 2012 - 08:01 PM, said:

Notepad and > JAVAC are the real good way or learning
Now is learning really important ? that is another question. I am sure members like farrell2k will say no :)/>


Don't forget that your IDE is just Notepad advanced. :)

I agree that everyone should at least know how to compile with javac. We don't think too differently on this one.
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#14 AdamSpeight2008  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:06 PM

Any idiot can write a program. (Present company exincluded)
So it doesn't matter what you use, what takes time is developing the way of thinking about tackling the problem, the analytical skills, the research skills.
And practice those skills.
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#15 Locke  Icon User is offline

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Re: Text Editor vs. IDE For New Programmers

Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:37 PM

That is true, Adam. However, the process can either be a pain or a breeze. How you start out greatly affects which of the two it is.

I'm a fan of the "get them started with notepad/command line briefly, then move on to a small IDE just so it doesn't become tedious" approach.

I had no problem using JCreator or the just the command line for very small projects, but at work, I use Eclipse, and I'd get much less work done without some of the features it provides.

This post has been edited by Locke: 30 November 2012 - 02:39 PM

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