I’ve been a devoted Eclipse user for more then a decade (with most of that time spent developing applications based on Eclipse) but I’ve noticed that I am becoming less and less inclined to spend my time trying to convince Eclipse to actually edit my files. I ended up using Eclipse only for Java – Xcode is great C++/C (libclang-powered editor with C++11 support) with VIM was standard for all other files. For the last couple months I’ve been slowly migrating to Sublime – now I reached the point when I even consider using it for Java files.
This is just a “disgruntled veteran Eclipse user” view on why it is worth it to pay for your coding editor these days.
It can open files! And folders…
Cmd+S, Cmd+N and Cmd+O are the first shortcuts everybody learns. Eclipse is unique in that it breaks this convention. “Open File” is an afterthought (doesn’t even have a key shortcut), with many plugins unable to work with those files – even if your editor manages not to show an error dialog (or dump an exception in log) – some features still are not available.
Sublime not just behaves as expected – it goes one step further. I can “open” any folder – showing that folder in the Sublime “Project Explorer”-like pane. What is truly surprising is that Sublime manages to deliver many Eclipse killer features – including “Open Resource…” and “Goto Symbol in Project” (think JDT/CDT “Find Type” and “Find Function”). No metadata files is created in those folders, no indexer is ran. Right now my “workspace” has a mix of Bootstrap-based HTML application with a Python server-side – and without any plugins I can immediately focus on a CSS rule or on a Python function. I’ve also shown to my colleagues that I can open mid-sized C projects and be able to open random function within seconds. No setup, no long-running background jobs.
It opens shell scripts, .ini files without spinning up Xcode or any other heavy “external editor”.
Editor is the same
Cmd+Shift+R will go to symbol in any file in any language (that I tried) – in Eclipse, CDT and JDT installed in the same workbench have confusing separate realms with Cmd+Shift+T been bound to different dialogs depending on active editor. Cmd+Shift+R and Cmd+Shift+A are yet other parallel realms, adding to the confusion.
One prominent Sublime feature is multiple cursors. Curiously, this feature is really familiar to JDT and CDT users – you can see multiple cursors when you rename variables. In Sublime multiple cursors can be used to select search results (quite similar to Eclipse rename refactoring) or to apply edits to several separate locations at once.
I spend most my time in Eclipse having source editor maximized (I also used to hide toolbar – until I started using Eclipse Kepler where Cmd+3 makes toolbar visible no matter what).
In Sublime I can split the window (not the editor 😉 ) using just the keyboard. I can move editors between stacks or focus on stacks without reaching the mouse. Switching between editor predictably opens a tab to left/right – instead of randomly popping from the recent editors stack.
There is no preferences UI as such in Sublime – keybindings and settings are stored in JSON files that are editable in the text editor.
Plenty of plugins, easy discovery. “Cmd+Shift+P”, “Install<Return>”, type filter string. Plugin is found and installed even before “Marketplace client” would open.
Files can be opened from the command-line. Reliably. Even on Mac.
Sublime does not integrate SCM support. Well, there are some plugins – but I haven’t figured them out yet, mostly because I am command-line Git and Perforce user (as not all my files are in the workspace) – the only thing I miss is Perforce checkout from the editor.
No way to run shell command from within the editor. As in VIM.
IntelliJ and Eclipse were revolutionary tools – they eschewed RAD features and visual designers that were a cornerstone of the IDE experience and focused on the core programming experience instead – providing ultimate source editor, making refactoring mainstream. Sublime seems to do the same trick – only this time it is Eclipse that is slow and outdated. Sublime does not force me to manage workspaces (in couple weeks I will have to start working in a different branch (in Perforce it is a different folder) – ain’t it fun, with my 20+ projects?), flip perspectives (the first thing I show to QA or new team members – “If you don’t understand what’s going on on the screen, do “Window > Reset perspective”) or wait till my cancel button click is honored. Again, as 10 years ago, I’m enjoying my editor instead of wrestling with it…
Indeed, times, they are a-changing…