Version franēaise
Home     About     Download     Resources     Contact us    

This site is updated infrequently. For up-to-date information, please visit the new OCaml website at

Browse thread
Re: [Caml-list] New Ocaml Plug-in for NetBeans
[ Home ] [ Index: by date | by threads ]
[ Search: ]

[ Message by date: previous | next ] [ Message in thread: previous | next ] [ Thread: previous | next ]
Date: 2008-07-26 (09:59)
From: Erik de Castro Lopo <mle+ocaml@m...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] New Ocaml Plug-in for NetBeans wrote:

> I am sceptical of comments such as those of Erik's (no disrespect
> intended here).

No offence taken.

> I suspect these people either have not tried using
> an IDE or simply haven't made the effort to learn to use the IDE and
> take full advantage of it.

As little as a 18 months ago I spend about 6 months maintaining
100k lines of mixed C++ and C# code using Visual Studio 2005,
the IDE all the IDE fans rave about. It found the Visual Studio
experience amazingly underwhelming; beyond tedious. The GUI hid
details from me that I thought I needed to know and got in my
way when I thought it should stay out of it.

More recently I spend a couple of months using the Adobe Flash
GUI development tools. Again I found this a woefully tedious
exercise and wished for command line tools to replace the stupid
and annoying GUI. The GUI thought it knew how I wanted to format
my Actionscript code better than I did.

The funny thing is that my preferences for command line tools was
something I developed after my first exposure to an IDE. My first
serios coding was done on Borland's Turbo Pascal and Turbo C IDEs
back in the late 1980s.

In the late 1990s I did a lot of FPGA development using the Xilinx
development tools. It was the inadequacy of these tools which forced
me back to Make because my Makefile understood the build process
I wanted to achieve better than than the Xilinx tools. Later on
in my FPGA design career I would do schematic entry of FPGA designs, 
export a Xilinx XNF netlist, convert the XNY netlist to VHDL using
a utility I wrote and then run that VHDL through a simulator.

This was actually a pivotal event for me because I was able to do
better work by breaking free of the IDE which limited what I could

IDEs still limit what I can do. How many IDEs allow for meta
programming; source code compiling to programs which generate
code which gets compiled to create the final program?

How many IDEs cater for more than one language? The thing is I use
lots of lanaguages. At work I work on a number of projects, some
in C, some in C++ and some in Ocaml. Doing it my way, with Linux
as my IDE, means that apart from the compilers, everything else is
the same. Same editor and same build system (make possibly augmented
with the autotools).

How many people who use multiple languages are willing to learn a
different IDE for each language? Eclipse is not the answer either
because however good it might be for Java its not very good for
other langauges.

> Which is surprising since mastering Ocaml
> requires much effort, and all here seem to agree that the added
> productivity of using Ocaml is worth it ;-).

The same can be said for the Unix IDE, but the UNIX IDE is 100
times more flexible and more capable than any other IDE in
existance. I know Make well enough  to whip up a complex make
file in minutes. I am also intimately familair with the automake/
autoconf/libtool set. Since these tools are so flexible they
adapt to my requirements and never force me to work the way they
are designed.

> In fact mastering
> emacs, vi, etc. with all those "modes" also requires a lot of
> work.

I don't like emacs and vi. My editor of choice for the last 13
years has been nedit (Nirvana Editor) which has syntax highlighting
for dozens of languages (and it easy to add new ones or modify
existing ones), regex search/replace and macros. Its configurable
so over the years I have bent it into the shape I  want. The same
goes for my Unix shell.

> Why should the use of an IDE be any different?

Unix is my IDE and I am reasonably certain that I can do more
with my IDE than you can do with yours :-). By more, I mean
more languages, more meta programming, more custom build
options with more languages.

I suspect that a lot of the people who think Ocaml needs an IDE
are people whose primay development platform is windows.


PS : Here's a nickle kid. Go and buy yourself a real computer :-).
Erik de Castro Lopo
"The earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound.
Children no longer mind parents ...and it is evident that the end of
the world is approaching fast." -- Assyrian Tablet Engraved in 2800 B.C.