Love Your IDE

May 2015

If you can’t passionately justify your text-editor of choice as being superior by means of reasoned, empirical evidence and rationale, I ask you: why on earth not? What grounds are there to make an argument against mastering the environment in which your life’s work takes place?

Preface: In efforts to prevent repeating myself, the two terms ‘IDE’ and ‘Text-Editor’ will be used interchangeably.

It’s commonplace for people to decorate their office or home extensively - what are their motives for this kind of behavior? Surely something like a desire to create a relaxing and efficient working environment physically: one that they feel at-home and productive in. Why is this type of thought so seldom applied to any virtual environment as well?

A few of my friends and people I know have devoted months and years purely to mastering the (arguably) more cult-based text editors such as VIM and Emacs. Whilst there is sometimes an element of ostentatiousness with the perpetual text-editor war, I feel strongly that there’s myriad benefits that come with this kind of devotion and thoroughness - most notably; comfortability and competence.

Knowing an editor and environment like the back of your hand is invaluable. Over the, admittedly short time that I’ve been in the world of the web and software development, one of the things I’ve found to leave me most prone to having my productivity bottle-necked is any hindrance of my transition into the ‘flow’.

Any developer with any kind of experience will resonate with this term: one that’s somewhat hard to quantify but one that is most unmistakably prevalent - My experience of ‘flow’ is one that is most synonymous with that state of mind in which you are totally immersed in work and hours fly past like minutes, effortlessly maintaining absolute concentration, slinging those lines of code like there is no tomorrow. Often, one of the hardest parts is getting into this ‘flow’, and having an IDE in which you are at ease with helps tenfold.

Albeit, a substantial amount of time is needed to master a typical text-editor and to become proficiently natural to the point of second nature. Menial effort each night, perhaps 10 minutes or so, will have you sorted in no time.

Some major benefits:

KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS

Second-nature keyboard shortcuts massively increase productivity. Being able to use keyboard shortcuts intrinsically eradicates the need to perform routinely monotonous tasks over and over - It’s of similar benefit to using a Javascript task runner for example, only you reap the rewards constantly whilst editing text, not only on save/compliation.

PERSONALISE YOUR IDE

Text-Editors are often completely customisable, meaning you can add a whole range of plugins and features, user-settings, preferences etc to make it feel like your home. Some’s source code is even directly manipulatable too, so you can edit the raw files and UI to your preferences.

GETTING INTO THE FLOW

As mentioned, I feel one of the best advantages you can give yourself when working is the ability to get stuck into things as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Loving your working environment is crucial in aiding this.


After all, it’s not entirely about being massively more efficient than if you were using a lame IDE or editor, it’s more about being comfortable, proficient and passionate about the tools you’re using - love your IDE.