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Will using an IDE limit my understanding of various concepts as a beginner ?  RSS feed

 
Nikolas Nikolaou
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Hi.
I'm relatively new to Java and have only seriously been studying for less than a year.
I've gone through the Head First Java book.I understand and can apply all of the concepts and code I've read there to some small applications I've created.
I've created a few GUI's with JAVAFX and a few apps that connect to a database.
The thing Is I've been using notepad++ up until now for all these applications.I'm wondering If switching to an IDE like eclipse will affect my ability
to understand things at a deeper level at this stage.
Given the basic knowledge I have , will It be ok to move on to an IDE at this stage ?
 
Tim Holloway
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Using an IDE isn't going to hurt you as long as you don't depend on it to "know" things that you don't. An IDE is a powerful tool in the hands of a skilled worker. It's the foolish attempts by misguided management to make IDEs substitute for skill and knowledge that get us all annoyed here. Or, for that matter for lazy would-be developers to avoid learning what they need to know because some "wizard" will do all the work for them. That's one of the reasons why I grind my teeth when I encounter books and hot-to articles on Java development which are basically just IDE screen-shots.

Once you know how to build and use a WAR, then it's OK to try out your IDE's "create a Webapp" wizard, for example. You'll be able to see what it does for you and what it doesn't and - more importantly - how to extend what the IDE created to do real-world work. Because wizards can't do everything.

 
Stuie Clarky
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Given how much you have managed to do so far without an IDE, I'd say you have a pretty decent grounding for how things work, what various error and compiler messages mean and how to fix them, how to package and deploy things (assumption based on creating things connecting to databases). An IDE will help smooth off the rough edges, like being able to easily refactor, auto-adding imports etc for you. Its important to learn how to do things from scratch, but using an IDE will help make you more productive.

To be honest, you could still compile and build things from terminal, an reduce the IDE to basically a very fancy text editor.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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I think that once you are connecting to databases and making GUIs, you probably have enough experience to benefit from using an IDE to speed your work.
 
Tapas Chand
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I will put it like this.
If you are an absolute beginner, then IDE is complete NO-NO. If you have gone through the basics then it is OK.
Like Campbell said
Campbell Ritchie wrote:I think that once you are connecting to databases and making GUIs, you probably have enough experience to benefit from using an IDE to speed your work


Let us go to our childhood and take multiplication as an example
Question: 15x13=?
If you just know the 1-20 number tables and do not know about multiplication and you use a calculator,
You will get the answer, but will not learn how to multiply.
But If you have done the following logic previously using pencil-paper, you already know how to multiply.
Then using a calculator for faster calculation is OK.

 
Nikolas Nikolaou
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All very Informative answers.
Thank you.
 
Guillermo Ishi
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I don't have any problem with using an IDE, except that the suggestions it gives you to fix problems (click to fix or something like that) are always wrong! Half the time they won;t fix the problem and the other half they will fix it but very improperly and create bigger problems as you continue writing the program. See if there's some way to turn the suggestions off Seriously. Other than that, if you understand what the IDE is doing, I don't have a problem with using it. Back in the day I was a Pascal genius and never saw a Pascal command line, if there even was such a thing. Always used an IDE for C and such as well and never caused a lack of understanding. The things you will not understand are a lot more complicated...
 
Stephan van Hulst
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Guillermo Ishi wrote:I don't have any problem with using an IDE, except that the suggestions it gives you to fix problems (click to fix or something like that) are always wrong!


They're only suggestions. If they don't fix the problem, they weren't intended to fix that problem. I never use them a lot myself, but I do like the ones that clean up my imports, that surround my code with try-catch blocks, that replace my disjoint catch clauses with multi-catches, etc. Most of all, I enjoy the one that import the correct package for a class, and the one that finds the Maven dependency for a missing import.
 
Tim Harris
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Tapas Chand wrote:If you are an absolute beginner, then IDE is complete NO-NO.


I see this as the general consensus around here and I wanted to offer some of my own personal insight on the other side of this.

There has never been a point where I have not used some type of IDE to manage and compile my code - whether it was Visual Studio, Eclipse, or other tools. This has not hindered me from learning the concepts of each language or prevented me from creating usable, compiling code. However, most (but not all) of my learning was done in either a classroom or work environment - put simply, in a place where an IDE was expected and therefore we worked with the IDE and learned not only the code but how to get the most out of an IDE.

Does that mean outside of a classroom, an IDE is bad? Not in my opinion. There are plenty of methods for learning how to program in Java while using Eclipse. Because you have to learn how to use an IDE as well as program in Java, the learning curve is higher, but the end result is not only understanding the Java language, but how to use the IDE, which is a powerful tool in the right hands.

IDEs are not bad for beginners in my opinion, but you do need to understand what you are getting in to - and there is going to be more work involved. Understanding that there is going to be additional complexity as you start can help you decide whether you want to start using an IDE or not.
 
Tapas Chand
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Hi Tim,
You have mentioned very good points.

Whatever I have mentioned in my previous post is because of what I have seen in my not-so-long-career in programming.

In our study days, we have been taught using Editplus at start and after 4-5 labs they gave us Eclipse. So we learnt all the commands/configuration and then we learnt how to use IDE.

I have seen people in our organization having 2-3 years of experience, but do not know how to configure and up a tomcat in a machine. This is where my concern lies.

So as you have mentioned, if you are learning how to use IDE and at the same time learning what is going under the hood, then nothing like it.
 
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