10 Helpful Hints on Moving from Eclipse to IDEA

http://www.intellij.org.cn/bbs/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=223
1. Learn to use Ctrl+J
2. Install the KeyPromoter Plugin
3. Learn to use Ctrl+Alt+T
4. Print and Use the Keymap
5. Increase Your Heap Size
6. Don't Use the "Eclipse Keyboard Layout" Settings
7. Learn to use Find Effectively
8. Learn to use Ctrl+Shift+A
9. Performance Issues? Stay Bleeding Edge
10. Read the Book

 

10 Helpful Hints on Moving from Eclipse to IDEA

Eclipse is an amazing Java IDE*. It has great refactoring support, a committed community, and an unbeatable price. And two years ago I switched to IntelliJ IDEA. Why is not important**. Which is better is not important***. The goal of this post is to make the transition as easy as possible.

Here are my top ten ways to make the transition easy:

1. Learn to use Ctrl+J
Ctrl+J brings up the Live Template options based on where your cursor is. If you're in Javadoc then there will be some Javadoc intentions, if you have code highlighted then there will be some surround intentions. I wrote my own intention that creates a failing unit test. Seriously... quit typing. You'll get carpal tunnel. Use the intentions instead. The collection iteration intentions are some of the most useful!

2. Install the KeyPromoter Plugin
This plugin pops up a big reminder window every time you perform a mouse action that has a key binding associated with it. It's a great learning tool for the new keyboard shortcuts. Also, if you perform an action 3 times which doesn't have a key binding, then it prompts you to create one. People who use the mouse always underestimate how much time learning the keyboard shortcuts would save them. But remember: like me, you may want to adjust the plugin settings to be less intrusive.

3. Learn to use Ctrl+Alt+T
Highlighting code and pressing Ctrl+Alt+T will bring up the "Surround With" menu.
You can quickly surround the code with an if, for, try/catch, Runnable, Synchronized... The list goes on infinitely. Or at least until you can count to 11, whichever comes first. I use this all the time.

4. Print and Use the Keymap
JetBrains provides a nice overview of all the important keyboard shortcuts on one page. Print this out, cut it into 3 strips, and tape it to the sides of your monitor. Seriously. This is exactly what call centers do in order to speed up their phone operators. It looked goofy but helped me a ton.

5. Increase Your Heap Size
IDEA critics (rightly, in my experience) complain that it is slower than Eclipse. Well, your first step should be to increase the heap size. Locate your idea.exe.vmoptions file and open it with a text editer (IDEA works fine). My file is in C:\Program Files\JetBrains\IntelliJ IDEA 7.0.2\bin. Change the -Xmx line to allow a bigger heap. Mine is set at -Xmx512m.

6. Don't Use the "Eclipse Keyboard Layout" Settings
This is an impossible statement to quantify, but: the IDEA keyboard bindings are simply better than the Eclipse bindings. 9 out of 9 of my coworkers agree with this statement. Hey, it's now an empirical statement! Just try it, I swear you'll like it better.

7. Learn to use Find Effectively
Do you know the difference between Find, Find Usages, Highlight Usages in File, and Find in Path? There are 13 entries on the Search menu of IDEA, and every entry has a purpose. Learning the differences has been a huge time saver for me, and only using the one you're most familiar with will cost you a lot of time.

8 . Learn to use Ctrl+Shift+A
Pressing Ctrl+Shift+A brings up a search dialog for actions... whether they be hidden in the menu, toolbar, or just plain hidden! You really don't ever need the menus. Just type Ctrl+Shift+A and see where the wildcard matching can take you!

9 . Performance Issues? Stay Bleeding Edge
At first I wasn't happy with the performance of IDEA 7 on my HUGE Java codebase at work. But every minor release has had a marked improvement on performance. 7.0.2 is currently the most recent GA release. Install it if you're on an earlier version. 7.0.3 is coming soon, and is probably out by the time you read this.

10. Read the Book
I crammed on IDEA in Action for about 4 hours before making the switch, and it helped immeasurably. It's not a great reference or a great how-to. But it does inform you of what is possible. I'll remember that the book explained how to do something, even if I can't remember the steps. Skimming this book will move you from thinking, "I wish IDEA had feature x from Eclipse" to "I know IDEA can do this I just need to figure out how." It's on my bookshelf. Just stop by and borrow it.

I have more, but 10 tips was my limit! Now please, please , PLEASE let me know what helped you make the conversion... I'd love to hear you comments.

* Yes, yes, I know. It is a platform, not an IDE. FlexBuilder http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flex/flexbuilder3/ blew my mind and proves the point.
** Corporate Policy
*** IDEA

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