When reading blogs and attending conferences, I notice that a huge portion of ColdFusion developers have switched to using Eclipse (cfeclipse) as their primary IDE. I can see the appeal of it being free, but what bothers me about this movement is that developers who have stuck with Dreamweaver or Homesite+ seem to be ridiculed. "Why would you be using Dreamwever?" That comment by a presenter drew quite a few laughs at this year's CFUNITED conference.
Why? Well, from what I gather, it is mainly because it is just the "in" thing to be using Eclipse.
I decided to give it a shot for a while. I tried switching to Eclipse for a full week – and it was a horribly unproductive week. Adjusting to the coding interface was not a problem, and I like the tag and # closing features. However, I found the file navigation system to be an absolute disaster for the average developer.
I work on a lot of FTP sites, and the FTP features just plain do not work. Connections time out and break, and the speed is horribly slow. Following a great tip from Brian Love, I tried the Aptana plug-in. That got me half-way there. I can edit files and set up FTP connection efficiently. However, and this is hard to believe, you cannot CREATE a new file directly through the File interface. What genius left this feature out? No new files? After much struggle and disbelief, I found this post indicating that it is possible. This method works, but it is very inefficient and time consuming.
Overall, I found that the Eclipse file system was designed for people working on local projects that are relatively small. Rather than battle FTP, I tried a local project. I pointed the project to our development Web site at Hamilton on our local network. As it turns out, Eclipse cannot just open the files and work with them like a normal editor. It has to cache them all. With the size of our Web site, it was going to take several HOURS to do this. I let it run, and things worked well after that. Then, one of my co-workers created a file on the site. I couldn't find it. Why? It wasn't in my cache. What a pain in the ass! Yes, there are solutions to these issues, but they all slow me down.
And so… back to Dreamweaver's code interface for me. I guess I am just not as cool as most ColdFusion geeks. However, I can get to all my files easily, create files on my FTP sites, and get my work done quite efficiently. After all, isn't that the end goal? The final code is still the same.
I'd love to switch to Eclipse and save myself and my business some money, but realistically I just cannot do that and still be as productive – so it would cost me money in the long run. I hope the Eclipse, Aptana, or CFEclipse teams come up with better file management methods. Until then, Dreamweaver gets the job done for me.