Levi Pearson levi at
Tue Feb 13 13:37:12 MST 2007

On 2/13/07, Bryan Sant <bryan.sant at> wrote:
> Woooooo.  The IDE features that exist today in Eclipse and IntelliJ
> are far more advanced than the IDE's of yesteryear.  If you're
> thinking, "Hey, I've used Microsoft Visual Studio.  I know what IDE's
> have to offer."  You are dead wrong.  Likewise if you've used Borland
> Turbo C++ or the like.  There is no comparison between prior IDEs and
> the modern Java IDEs.
> I suppose you could say that IDE improvements have been only
> incremental, and I'd say that language features in modern languages
> have been only incremental.

We're clearly not talking about the same old IDEs.  Microsoft was the
farthest thing from my mind.  I'm thinking more like IBM's Smalltalk
tools and the Symbolics Lisp Machines.  Who do you think invented
refactoring?  It was Smalltalk programmers.  Who do you think wrote
your beloved Eclipse?  Smalltalk programmers who wanted their nice
environment back (See the end of ).  Java's
amenability to static analysis makes automated refactoring work even
better, but it was ported to Java tools from the Smalltalk tools.
Further advances in type inferencing in Smalltalk in the last few
years have made refactoring and code analysis tools in Smalltalk work
nearly as well as the Java counterparts, but of course it doesn't see
very wide use since Smalltalk has passed out of the public favor.

Language features in modern languages have indeed been incremental
improvements, but they were incremental improvements of old lousy
languages by cannibalization of old, revolutionary languages.  As Guy
Steele said (paraphrased) in a Usenet post in response to some
disgruntled Lispers complaining about Java, "You should be happy; we
dragged C++ users halfway to Lisp!"

Java is indeed a rather nice language for a lot of uses, and if I had
to use it for something, I wouldn't complain too loudly.  And I find
Eclipse to be a pretty nice environment for writing Java code.  But to
suggest that Java is somehow the pinnacle of software engineering
technology strikes me as absurd.


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