Friday, June 24, 2011

Code browsing (ETAGS vs. Eclipse)

I am an Emacs enthusiast, and I always try to resolve my problems in Emacs.
However, today, I gave up Etags. I don't compile codes on Eclipse, yet. For code browsing capability, Eclipse is far better and intuitive. I can't clearly distinguish/categorize properties of "This is better on Emacs" vs "This is better on Eclipse". Truely, editing task is better on Emacs, but, code browsing is better on Eclipse.

The nature of code browsing is different from actual coding.
When writing a project, the author of the project knows details up front, such as where to look, how these variables/functions are used. When modifying someone else's project, initially readers don't have a clue. The readers will collect details by asking many questions (in browsing terms, querying symbol/usage chain/see declaration/see definition/ etc... ). On emacs, interface is too flat. I use Etags often, but still I have to look up, though. On Eclipse, interface is hierarchic, and grouped based on situation.

I can't describe better than this. Sorry for rough explaining. At this point, I remember that someone mentioned "Eclipse vs. Emacs is facing the same argument of Emacs vs. Vi when Emacs got attentions first time. One example is that "Eclipse is heavy". Emacs was heavy when it appeared for the first time.

One nice tip, to browse through history, use ALT-left and ALT-right.