Ok – I think I’m done with Eclipse, the promising Java-based editor for ColdFusion, PHP, Java, you name it. I tried to like it, I really did. It has many promising features. The Who’s Who of the ColdFusion world all use it. I like the idea of Subversion plugins, fusebox plugins, etc. There’s a plugin for almost anything! I would like to be intimately familiar with this editor, and be able to easily use it for Java or Flex development, should the need ever arise. I’ve completely abandoned Homesite, my old editor of choice, for the last month to really get used to CFEclipse. I’ve setup a number of shortcuts to my liking (Ctrl+F6 to switch through open documents – who decided that should be the default?). I’ve been using it everyday for a number of client sites. I’ve been using it at home for PHP development.

But it feels like I’ve been fighting it the whole time. It feels like a buggy, unpolished product not ready for use by everyday programmers who just need to get their work done. I’ve been doing a lot of work via FTP the last few months, on a client’s server. The FTP support is just horrible. When your connection times out, and you click on another directory, the connection is automatically reestablished and the directory contents listed out. Wonderful! But if you are timed out and you try to save the file you’ve been working on, you get two error dialogs, and the file is marked as saved. But its not. So you have to click on another directory to reestablish the connection, then make a change to the file so Eclipse thinks it needs to be saved, then you can save it.

I still haven’t found a way to create a new file, or rename a file through FTP. There are no timestamps listed with FTP files. I’ve also tried the Aptana plugin, which has an FTP client. It showed that it would successfully save files without errors, but after spending awhile trying to figure out why my modified code wasn’t executing, I discovered that it wasn’t really saving my files. Homesite works just fine, so I don’t think the problem lies with the server.

I’ve been clicking through these errors 50 times every day, switching directories unnecessarily just to get my files saved. And at home, with my PHP development – half of the time when I switch between my open PHP files, I get prompted to open the file! If I click ok the file opens in Homesite or Notepad or whatever I have associated with the .php extension. Associating .php with Eclipse does not solve the problem.

When I hit F1 on a ColdFusion tag in CFEclipse, there’s no instant syntax help like in HomeSite. Instead, a browser window slowly loads in the bottom of my editor, after a few seconds a cfQuickDocs page shows up. Now cfQuickDocs is quick, after you’ve loaded the page for the first time. But every time I hit F1 for syntax help I’m loading the page for the first time, because I don’t have the screen real estate to keep that help window open all the time (who does?). At the same time I always get an Eclipse help window popping up on the right hand side, giving me help about the Workbench, Perspectives, etc. Every time!

I’ve been doing a lot of Fusebox development lately. I downloaded the Fusebox plugin for Eclipse, and put it into my plugins folder. I restarted Eclipse. Nothing happened. All my XML files are still all black – no syntax highlighting. I don’t really know what else the plugin was supposed to do. I think it was for Fusebox 3 anyway – not very helpful, even if it did work. There’s more, but I’ll stop there.

So I’m done. I really wanted to use Eclipse. Maybe I’ll give it another try next year.

15 Comments

  1. wallace says:

    RTFM buddy…..

  2. SchizoDuckie says:

    http://www.editplus.com

  3. Jason says:

    wallace,

    For an Eclipse n00b like myself – I would *love* to read the manual on how to fix the FTP issues described. I ended up developing locally and uploading my FTP files because of the same timeout issues.

    In talking w/the CF community some – some report that FTP opens files up as “Read-only” so they don’t use it either. FTP isn’t rocket science – is it NASA?

  4. jtstogner says:

    You know I feel the same way. I used to work for a major bank which used Eclipse for development and it seems like so much productivity was lost in dealing with the overall quirkiness of the IDE. Now when someone mentions that I should use Eclipse it’s almost as if they have just used their nails on a chalkboard. Don’t get me wrong the idea of Eclipse is great but the execution leaves much to be desired. For now, at least, my java development will be left in the hands of Netbeans.

  5. David Medlock says:

    I completely understand your feelings here!

    I just installed Eclipse today. I use HomeSite when developing through remote desktop on the server and DreamWeaver locally. I’ve gotten used to being able to publish a file with DreamWeaver by just hitting Ctrl+Shift+U. Saves TONS of time. I’ve heard good things about CFEclipse and DW started giving me problems (crashed every time I opened it, even after a restart), so I decided to give it a try.

    It LOOKS like it’s got tons of great features. But my big problem is FTP set up. I tried setting up an FTP synchronize, but it doesn’t seem to be reading, or even connecting properly, to my remote server. I tried using the Export feature, but that doesn’t seem to work well, either.

    The benefit of using commercial software as opposed to open source is that with commercial software, such as DW, there’s been a lot invested in usability and testing so what you get is a (generally and reasonably) reliable product that’s easy to understand and use. Eclipse feels choppy and unintuitive to me.

    One of these days, maybe I’ll invest the time in figure it out completely. Until then, I’ve got real work to do…

  6. Kay Smoljak says:

    Whew – I’m not the only one! In some respects I’m still waiting for DW to catch up to Homesite+/CFStudio, although thankfully it’s not as buggy. I love the idea of CFEclipse, but I just can’t get used to it.

  7. Adam Ness says:

    Faced with the choice of the out of date Homesite+, incurably slow and bug-ridden DreamWeaver (Why do I have to stop typing for 5 mintues every time I hit Ctrl-S?), and CFEclipse, I tend to chose CFEclipse, though I’ve even toyed with the idea of using GVIM for all my coldFusion development.

  8. Ryan Stille says:

    What’s outdated about Homesite? You can drop in html files for any version of any language and load syntax highlighting files for Fusebox or whatever you want. I think they built an amazingly extensible editor.

    I agree that Eclipse could be so loaded with awesome features as to leave Homesite in the dust, but right now I find Homesite to be much more stable, and completely capable.

  9. Bill Tindal says:

    Have you tried the Aptana plugin? It has much better FTP handling plus being great for CSS / Javascript. http://www.aptana.com/download_all.php

  10. Anthony says:

    I thought I was the only one with serious FTP issues in cfeclipse! The aptana plugin works much better but not having the file explorer as a split view is super annoying.

    Thought I would give ubuntu a twirl for a few weeks, but I may have to go back to windows just for homesite+. Arggg.

  11. Mike says:

    I haven’t received any errors from CFEclipse (I have not worked with FTP), but the exclusion and/or bugginess of the “right-click to open a CFINCLUDE file” is a non-starter for me. I only use this 4000 times a day, so it is kind of important for me. For the life of me, I cannot see how any developer can code for a day without this, especially concerning the popularity of Fusebox-style frameworks.

    I’ll keep an eye out on the CFEclipse trouble ticket (http://trac.cfeclipse.org/cfeclipse/ticket/83), which seems to address this. Perhaps I’ll try again when that feature is closed.

  12. Robb says:

    I understand your frustrations but, eclipse and CFEclipse have a rather steep learning curve in order to get the most out of them. The tasks, snippets, and CFFrameworks explorer features in CFEclipse, Adobe Flex builder with CF data wizards and JSEclipse plugins and ANT support for the eclipse IDE leaves HS and DW in the dust IMO. If you need FTP support use FireFTP its free, stable, and fast but as long-time user of DW I have bad memories of DW FTP and the many crashes and timeouts when uploading files to meet deadlines. DW has always had issues with their FTP until this recent release which sounds better but have not tried yet.

  13. Ivan says:

    Tried out CFEclipse with the Aptana plugin and I just have to say that I miss DW. The FTP features are very poor quality on both plugins. One doesn’t have SFTP support and the other marks your uploaded files as ‘Read only’. I’ve seen myself uploading through FTP using CFEclipse/Aptana and having to RD just to change the file’s attributes. It’s ridiculous. DW is slow for sure, but I have very seldomly had issues with a version past MX 2004. Using version CS3 was lovely.

    I am totally for the idea of eclipse but as mentioned before, it’s the execution that’s a problem. Perhaps the IDE does need to grow up a bit. Then again, I’ve noticed a pattern with open-source software. They typically tend to carry a steeper learning curve and so demand a higher level of research and interactivity among its users. Of course, that’s in my opinion, but all I know is that I haven’t researched a single problem with DW as much as I have researched any of my multiple problems with CFEclipse. You do the math and in the process consider how this translates to lost productivity.

  14. Ryan Stille says:

    Doh! – Did you know that if you hit Ctrl+Z (undo) too many times in CFEclipse, sometimes you’ll end up renaming or even *deleting* files? It appears “undo” applies to any file operations you’ve done through CFEclipse. So when you are hitting Ctrl+Z a bunch to back out some changes in a file, be careful – when you get back to the original state of the file, pressing Ctrl+Z again may start moving files around (back where they were before) or deleting them (if you’ve recently created them).

  15. Gareth Jones says:

    For PHP development don’t have any problems using “Eclipse PDT”. Would love to see some improvements to the refactoring side of things but all in all probably one of the best PHP editors out there.

    Never used the FTP side of thigns though, at home run Samba on the server and just mount as a local drive. For dev on the net, try http://www.killprog.com/fdrve.html to do the same.

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