Choosing an IDE

I learned to program on Commodore 8-bit computers.  You know, entering BASIC, with line numbers, spending far too much energy on the line numbering scheme.  I always thought programs that used a multiple of 100 for each function (subroutine) was easier to maintain than a program that started at line 1, didn’t skip line numbers, and basically had zero organization with the code itself.  So when I was exposed to writing with a different language, using a full screen text editor for source editing, I was in heaven.  Then a year later I discovered Turbo Pascal 4 did not just include a text editor, but an editor that was integrated with both the compiler and a debugger.  Oh man, this is more like it…

Aside from a little VB Script here and there, I haven’t coded outside of an IDE since 1989.  I even use an IDE for writing SQL.  So, if I’m going to enjoy coding for AROS, I want a solid IDE.  The dream is to have an AROS native IDE, that is stable and includes integrated debugging.  That dream is a ways off, although I’d like to help make it a reality.

The recommended way for AROS developing, either the core platform or AROS applications, is to code them in Linux and cross-develop.  Hence, my quest to find a Linux distribution that I will enjoy using.  Next stop, try to find an IDE…

For coding C or C++ natively in AROS, there is the Murks! IDE.  I tried it out a little.  It is a bare bones IDE, but it does call the compiler for you and open a window to capture the compiler’s output.  It actually looks like a neat project to extend and learn AROS and MUI in the process.  There are a lot of small features that could be easily added and be worth doing, as opposed to starting with something that really needs a rewrite.

But the Text Elite game that I compiled in AROS continually threw a protection fault when it exited.  Another AROS developer tested in the 64-bit Linux hosted AROS and didn’t see any problems with it.  As a beginner with AROS, I need as much that should work to just work.  I need to be more experienced with AROS compiler and build issues and Murks! needs some work.  So let’s look for a solid Linux IDE.

Once I started looking, I noticed a couple of solid cross-platform IDEs that caught my eye.  Aside from that, I also noticed a Windows IDE specifically made for cross-compiling Amiga apps called AmiCppDev.  Although I’m stronger in Windows than any other OS, everyone else is developing using Linux.  And I’m starting to like the idea of using a completely cross-platform development toolchain, including the IDE.

I didn’t need to look long.  I glanced over a few, but the one that caught my eye is Code::Blocks.  This is an extremely nice IDE with a lot of functionality.  It is also extremely extendable using plug-ins, so you can pick and choose which of those features you want.  I have Code::Blocks installed in Linux (Debian), MacOS X, and Windows.  I haven’t written any code with it yet.  But it definitely looks like my choice for a cross-platform C/C++ IDE.

I also want to look at CodeLite.  All I’ve done so far is look at the screenshots on the web page.  It is a very pretty IDE.  If that attention to detail translates into a solid working product with good features, then it looks like another very solid IDE.  I’m just a little skeptical of a development tool that looks that pretty.  Then again, FinalBuilder is one of my all-time favorite tools.  So who knows…



Author: Jon Robertson

Software developer, Commodore hacker, and a fortunate husband and father!

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