Sunday, November 9, 2008
Intellij IDEA 8 Released
<disclosure>I am a member of the Jetbrains "Seeder Program" which means I could potentially recieve schwag from Jetbrains. However, everything I write here is purely my opinion with no input for the Jetbrains folks</disclosure>
But that being said, what every developer cares about is having a responsive code editor that works with them at the speed at which they think without being distracted from business issues by the technical issue of how to accomplish something with the editor. The relationship a developer has with his IDE is lke the relationship between a carpenter and his tools. If a carpenter has hand picked every tool he uses and has it right where he wants it so that he doesn't even have to think about it as it comes to his hand then his productivity and the quality of his work will be better. If he is constantly worrying about where his tools are, what tools to use for what tasks, and whether or not his tools will perform appropriately, then his job performance will be degraded. The carpenter has a system for where he keeps all his hammers, his nails, saws, etc. The goal is to get to the point where you don't even have to think about it and it is instinctual. It is also how we train in martial arts. If you have to think about blocking then you're going to get punched. If you can make blocking instinctual then you're a lot safer. A master has honed his skills to the point where even the counter attack is instinctual.
Which brings me to my point. Although I have been an avid Intellij IDEA user since IDEA 2, there has at least been the perception that the performance has degraded in certain ways. Although I think IDEA always performed well compared to other IDEs on the market, I had noticed a number of areas where the performance had become a distraction. Slow start up times were definately an issue but I can live with that. Probably the most annoying thing for me were long page rendering when opening a new page or switching from one to another. Or more commonly, when bringing IDEA back into focus after working with another tool (browser, app server console, etc.). This coding editor that always worked at the speed at which I thought was becoming senile before it's time.
It appears that perhaps the most important new feature (to me anyway) is the "reworked engine" that is supposed to improve the performance overall but particularly the startup. My experience so far has been very positive. Startup time I can testify has been HUGELY improved. IDEA parses all your project files, indexing references, creating a cache, etc. to improve performance. After starting it a couple of times the performance is going to improve because it doesn't have to rebuild all it's indexing and cache. I can report that with my completely un-scientific test of timing the startup times of IDEA 7.04 and IDEA 8 here are my results:
IDEA 7.04 - 35 seconds
IDEA 8.0 - 19 seconds
This was for the same project (a Grails project) and I started both versions a number of times to make sure it wasn't an issue of creating the indexes or cache. Keep in mind that is for one project and depending on the complexity of your project it may take more or less time. Also, the first time I started either of them took much longer, like 4 or 5 times longer, while it built the cache, indexes, ect. It also seemed to make some difference how many tabs I had opened up but not much.
Checking on other performance, going from page to page seems to be quite zippy. All the keyboard shortcuts seem to perform instantly. No problems to report so far when jumping focus from other apps to intellij. I'll definitely be working with it and commenting on my blog over the next couple of weeks if I notice an issue, but so far very positive! Great job Jetbrainers...Jetbrainsers...Jetbrainsonians...whatever...
Next I'll check out the new Groovy and Grails features and report back my experiences there.