a first look at IDEA

so, I have been convinced to check out a piece non-free software because it's said being soooo great.

I download IDEA for Linux, unpack it, see a bin directory, and try to run the start shell script:

henning@xnote:/data/produktion/tmp/software-to-evaluate/idea-9164$ ./bin/idea.sh 
ERROR: cannot start IntelliJ IDEA.
No JDK found to run IDEA. Please validate either IDEA_JDK or JDK_HOME points to valid JDK installation
exec: 61: /bin/java: not found
henning@xnote:/data/produktion/tmp/software-to-evaluate/idea-9164$ which java
/usr/bin/java
henning@xnote:/data/produktion/tmp/software-to-evaluate/idea-9164$ echo $JAVA_HOME
/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun/

That's not a really nice start.

I've never seen a Unix or Linux distribution that has any non-very-basic executables meant for end users and not system administrative use be placed in /bin, and all I know, just about every Java software I've seen until this point tries to evaluate the environment variable JAVA_HOME, not JDK_HOME. (O.K., I might have seen JDK_HOME in some remote place, somewhere, but I'm sure, I didn't have to set that path for ages).

But, I'll give you another chance to show me you're worth paying 200 bucks, little intelligent IDEA...

So, now I run with JDK_HOME=$JAVA_HOME bin/idea.sh I get a strange warning on my console: Warning: The encoding 'UTF-8' is not supported by the Java runtime. (quite new to me to hear my java is not UTF-8 capable...) but I continue anyway.

Then, when I start creating a first project, after entering the name, the next question/task is: chose which jdk to use. There is NOTHING to chose from, but I can create a new one - being forced to browse through my whole file system and find some jdk. Hey guys, you're RUNNING inside a java sdk already, You forced me to set "JDK_HOME", even though JAVA_HOME was already set. What do you think, where you might, maybe be able to find a JDK??? No, you don't, I have to add it manually... Not really polite, that is.

Anyway, until no, I saw no serious breakage - nothing that would happen too often in daily work, even though a bit odd. So, I'm not giving up! I've been told this tool will make me productive in a way I never saw before... I have to find that productivity grail!

I have a very, very small task, first. Good tools are known to make "hard and complex tasks easy, while making small and simple tasks possible". So, it should be possible to edit a small groovy script, and use some nice features like syntax hightlightinh and code completion, running the script from inside the IDE with a keystroke, to make this a bit easier for me.

I start my project (actually, I only want to edit a single, small groovy script, but in those terms, eclipse and netbeans are in no way better).

And try to run my script (doing nothing more but a simple hello world in groovy until now):

"error running add-modules - Module is not specified" ...

Very helpful hint. Trying to run the script manually on the command line shows me that I obviously made a newbie mistake: "Caught: java.lang.ClassFormatError: Illegal class name "add-modules" in class file add-modules"

That's really helping me further. Too bad IDEA is not capable of just handing over groovy's error message so can I understand what's wrong. But it becomes even funnier.

"You will realize, many things in IDEA work the way as you expect them - just try the most likely command for an action, and in most cases, intelliJ will do it".

I need to rename the file now. Renaming a file is "F2" in just about every program I know - in Eclipse, in Gnome Nautilus, in Windows Explorer - wherever! It's not F2 in IDEA. Neither it is CTRL-r(ename). And, if you think it's easy to find, no, in the "File" Menu (where I expect things dealing with "Files"!), there is no command that sounds or looks like coming even remotely into the direction of renaming a file.

The help index search of "rename" points to a lot of things, but also, nothing that sounds like renaming a file.

After looking another minute into the interface of IDEA, I find the menu entry "refactor"-> rename. The key combination is "Shift-F6". Really, just about the exact thing I was intuitively thinking... Saving a file will most probably work with "CTRL-ALT-g-F7"???

Anyway, after renaming my "class" (which really is only a script until now without any clas definition, but I know, I know, Groovy makes a class of it...), I should be able to run my very small test script - with groovy on the shell it works, at least. No, really - that would be too easy. The same error as before.

All right, here we have now a good handful of very strange and annoying problems - in just about 25 minutes. I have enough for today.

Maybe I will look into it again, maybe it's true, and IDEA's real and full power comes into play when starting to work with larger Grails projects(the main reason to check it out was superbad Eclipse grails support).

But this was, for now, a very bad start with very simple tasks.