First, my work environment.
I have a live co-located server that hosts my final product. I then have a separate development server in my home office which I use to create all my masterpieces. I have a laptop which I’ve never really been comfortable coding with, but do use it from time to time. And then there’s my crown jewel… my dual monitor workstation which I’m on nearly all day every day (would like to eventually add a third monitor). The only reason I mention the dual monitors is that it’s imperative to my development…
Dreamweaver CF Builder, Fireworks, Navicat & FlashFXP (all the development stuff) on the left and my browser is on the right (of course I test in every browser… no built-in rendering or troubleshooting tools needed for me), which I refresh as I go making sure I’m getting my desired outcome across all platforms. And as I just mentioned, I use Navicat for all my SQL management (both Dreamweaver’s and Eclipse’s built-in SQL stuff is just laughable [and unnecessary]) and then FlashFXP for my FTP client (built-in FTP clients work fine… they just scare me. I test over the local network and want to make sure I’m only uploading the final product, not risking overwriting anything important.).
On ColdFusion Builder:
- I don’t get it because ColdFusion is a scripting language and I’m not compiling anything… ever. But maybe having a server setup poses some use I’ve missed the past 10+ years of coding in ColdFusion [and continue to not see might I add]. CF Builder it seems, revolves around getting your server in the settings. Sure you can code without it, but CF Builder will put you through constant nags and shames of guilt if you don’t. Further, CF Builder wants to assume your ColdFusion test install is on the same local machine… which I’ve never seen done (even when I developed for the US Air Force) unless you’re traveling and demoing an app in front of a group of people. And although it’s totally my fault I never figured it out, my firewall on my server was preventing CF Builder from connecting to it on port 80… which apparently is open by default for http, but not other things. Regardless, once your server is setup, life is pretty nice in CF Builder afterward… it’s just a bleeding shame it took two years to figure out the problem because not a soul on the planet could figure it out… I just got the “you’re insane” look. It would be very nice if future versions didn’t revolve around having the server setup, because frankly, it’s completely irrelevant and completely useless.
- Once I got around server hell, the first thing I noticed were the fonts… which is like I’m looking at the moving numbers in The Matrix. Sorry Adobe, but I code in Calibri… an easy change in the preferences.
- I really don’t like scrolling horizontally. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix for that in the preferences as well.
- I also don’t like how every time you fire up CF Builder it loads what you were just working on… I closed it because I finished working on it. Not a big deal though… I just got into the habit of closing the files before I actually close the program.
- I really prefer my tags to close after I type the beginning if the closing tag. This however is also easily changed in the preferences.
- I absolutely love, love, love how CFB handles CFSCRIPT. Unfortunately I’m finding myself not using CFSCRIPT often enough to justify the use of CFB solely for this purpose.
Now on Eclipse in general:
- The reason I completely can’t stand Eclipse is the fact there’s just a million little things that annoy the living crap out of me. Like autosuggestions… I love them and use them adamantly to code faster, but in Eclipse they never popup fast enough when you need them and then popup when you don’t need them and you’re constantly going back to fix crap you accidentally hit enter on. I am constantly typing in full tags (because the autosuggest didn’t catch) which has really slowed me down. I’m also constantly retracing my steps to remove mistakes I make when the autosuggest randomly pops up for no reason at all… which tends to happen mostly when I’m copying and pasting. In terms of autosuggestions… Dreamweaver just does it better, much better.
- Seriously, why in the world do I have to go through a wizard to create a new file? Dreamweaver has this right… right click on the folder, new file, type the name of the file with the extension you want and boom you’re done. No extra nonsense. Dreamweaver even autodetects the type of file it is… automatically setting up the default CFC template if name it with that extension.
- I really dislike the default color scheme… and thank heavens it’s completely customizable, but it literally took me an 8-hour day to get it to match Dreamweaver. It would have been nice if this was something that was already done in CFB… at least on a setting [to at least try and make the switch for the myriad of CF Dreamweaver developers more comfortable].
- Tag quotes… seriously wtf! In Dreamweaver, I hit enter for the autosuggest and they’re just there with my cursor in the middle. But in Eclipse, half the time the autosuggest doesn’t even come down (like never when I use class). And I have to manually insert the first quote every time. I’m a creature of habit and typing in quotes after nearly 15 years of not having to ever enter a quote has been an extremely uncomfortable switch.
- Eclipse is just dumb. And I’m not just talking about how it can’t figure out what it’s doing with autosuggestions, I’m talking like the vast majority of the time when I go to close a tag it closes the wrong tag! This is another area where Dreamweaver just excels over Eclipse.
- The .settings directory and settings.xml… get them the *expletive* out of my working directory! I do understand why they’re there and it’s fine that Eclipse needs these files… but put them in THE ECLIPSE install directory or anywhere else but in my working directory. At least give me the option. Having to dodge this using my FTP client every time on every project is a royal pain in the butt. This is probably the biggest nuisance for me. Granted.. I find the stinking _notes directory Dreamweaver just as annoying.
- On a positive note, the one thing about Eclipse I love better than Dreamweaver is how Eclipse handles CSS… it’s just wonderful. I actually look forward to doing CSS work in Eclipse… it’s that enjoyable.
- I have a love/hate relationship with Eclipse caching my files. I love it because it lets me know I did work on another computer and the file changed. On the other hand, I hate it because I can’t just open up and go like Dreamweaver.
I didn’t really know I was that picky about my coding environment until I tried this switch. And in all honesty, I did come out thinking better of Eclipse and CFB than I did before. However, for all the hype over the past few years I find CFB overrated and really don’t buy the hype. In the end, I really don’t find the trouble worth it. This is a product I wish would just go away and that Adobe would redirect its time and efforts back into the Dreamweaver extensions. I’m really just hoping the CF10 developers will be providing extensions to Dreamweaver because I honestly don’t think I can stand CFB much longer. And sadly, a large portion of the problems with CFB stem directly from Eclipse, not CFB itself. I never expected CFB to be Dreamweaver, but I did expect CFB to make my development more efficient. I now understand that efficient by definition also lies within the developer himself/herself, but In reality, CFB has actually made ColdFusion development more difficult and inefficient, at least for me. I honestly believe even a new developer learning to code would find Dreamweaver a breath of fresh air after having used CFB/Eclipse. I don’t mean to ramrod CFB by any means, but I honestly couldn’t recommend it to anyone.