Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Idea: Ctrl+w considered harmful

After some years of using Eclipse as my IDE I have found myself being quite efficient in code production using that environment. My typical flow was like:
- code
- select
- extract variable/method
For selection of expressions I have been using Shift+Alt+UpArrow. It selects expression under a caret position, and each repetition will cause expanding selection to next lexical unit. Very useful.  For some time I could not find it in any other editor or IDE.
I used to be a bit affraid to loose my typing efficiency when some colleagues suggested me trying IntelliJ Idea. So I refused. Learning keymap of new IDE actually is a time consuming process and you may not feel instant gratification. And Idea's kyes seemed so weird to Eclipse guys. Also IDEA's supporters arguing that F6 changes name of file in Total Commander were... not really helpful.
I remember my first ride with IDEA during a code randori session. I switched to 'Eclipse keymap' just to edit code. It should just work like in Eclipse, right? So let's start with running some tests. Ctrl+x t. So easy. Wait! It deleted something. Damn! Code no longer compiles and public is getting bored. Not a nice first impression.
Well, today really lot of companies are using Idea, so if you want to smoothly fit into team's coding manner, probably you will end up using IntelliJ. It makes also sense to learn basic commands and shortcuts available out of the box, as non-default keymaps are not that well documented (refcards etc) and as I mentioned you will not feel like in Eclipse anymore.
And here comes the surprise: Idea also has my favourite word selection feature built in. It's named 'expand selection'. A nice surprise. The bad part is how this shortcut is located. Namely Ctrl+w. Sounds like a crime, doesn't it? This very shortcut is something that was closing current editor tab at your previous IDE is now giving you a selection. Try using both IDEs (which I think initially everyone does when switching). What you have is getting some words selected when trying to close, and (while getting back to Eclipse) situation is even worse: you close your current tab when trying to select.
 You can think about the shortcut policy in Idea as a 'vendor lock in'. You just cannot switch to any other IDE after getting used to IDEA's native keymap. I believe at IntelliJ they call it feature.
But situation is even worse: this is not only about other IDE.
Every other program you use, and it supports tab view, probably uses Ctrl+w to close current tab. Last week when trying to select few words in Chrome browser I accidentally closed window I was working with. Such things are really disturbing and cause programmer to leave their 'zone' immediatelly. Too much for me.
But nice thing about IDEA is that you are able to turn the shortcut off. Today I visited Settings | Keymap, found 'Expand selection' and remapped to old, good shortcut from Eclipse. I should just have done it when starting with IDEA two years ago.

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