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Alexis Mas


Turning coffee into software since 2008


Mastering your IDE

Most of us, as developers we spend plenty of time improving our programming skills: design patterns, meta-programming, good practices, new languages or frameworks, you name it. Furthermore, even deployment and infrastructure can be managed through code. Hence, we could say that most part of our days revolves around code, as a matter of fact when we aren’t writing code we are reading it.

Why not put the same effort to master our editor of choice? In the end is the most used tool in software development. Let’s take a look at the different areas we should cover to know our IDE as the palm of our hand. On each section, you will find a short description and a small list of what features of your IDE you should rely on.

DISCLAIMER: I’ll use IDE and editor interchangeably, deal with it! ;)

There’s nothing more irritating than not knowing how to navigate through your code efficiently. Ok, I might be overreacting but it’s annoying to go char by char when you want to go from point A to B.

  • Move between words
  • Go to method
  • Go to definition
  • Tagging

The last one is especially useful when working on large file that constantly requires you to jump up and down.

Writing

When it comes to coding, I start with an initial draft of what the solution could look like, from there I start iterating over the code looking for a better approach. This usually implies duplicating, deleting and rearranging lines. Knowing how to do it without copy-pasting will make writing code a little bit smoother.

  • Code auto-formatting
  • Delete current line
  • Duplicate line
  • Move line up/down

Refactoring

Refactoring a complex piece of code without relying on the IDE features could end up being a frustrating experience. Why do the hard work by hand instead of delegating the effort to our editor?

  • Extract variable
  • Extract method
  • Rename variable
  • Rename class
  • Find usages of variable/method/class

Layout

When working on a big screen (I currently using a 27-inch monitor) I tend to split my editor in two, three or even four sections. That allows me to work with several files at the same time so I can glimpse over their content with ease.

  • Split view vertically
  • Split view horizontally

Path to Mastery

via GIPHY

Find your own way to learn your IDE features, and above all their shortcuts. Since knowing how to trigger all of those actions with a keystroke will make you spend less time figuring out how to do things instead actually doing them. Furthermore, don’t try to memorize all of them at once, it can be overwhelming go for a baby steps approach instead. Printing a cheatsheet and hang it next to your screen or writing down the shortcuts you want to learn on a post-it might come in handy.

Happy coding!

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