Netbeans vs Vim … round 1 … fight

So, I think I’ve changed ‘editor’. Perhaps this is a bit like an engineer changing their calculator or something.

For the last 10 years, I’ve effectively only used ‘vim‘ for development of any PHP code I work on.

I felt I was best served using something like vim – where the interface was uncluttered, everything was a keypress away and I could literally fill my entire monitor with code. This was great if my day consisted of writing new code.

Unfortunately, this has rarely been the case for the last few years. I’ve increasingly found myself dipping in and out of projects – or needing to navigate through a complex set of dependencies to find methods/definitions/functions – thanks to  the likes of PSR0. Suffice to say, Vim doesn’t really help me do this.

Perhaps, I’ve finally learnt that ‘raw’ typing speed is not the only measure of productivity – navigation through the codebase, viewing inline documentation or having a debugger at my fingertips is also important.

So, last week, while working on one project, I eventually got fed up of juggling between terminals and fighting with tab completion that I re-installed netbeans – so, while I’m sure vim can probably do anything netbeans can – if you have the right plugin installed and super flexible fingers.

So, what have I gained/lost :

  • a 10 second slow down – that’s how long it takes to start Netbeans – even with an SSD and a desktop that should be quick enough (perhaps this is justification for a faster desktop?). Lesson learnt – do not close Netbeans.
  • indexing of the code – although this takes some time when importing an existing project – it does make it very quick to ‘find uses’ of function/class X
  • the ability to easily jump to a function/class definition (right click, find uses …)
  • a list of ‘todo’ items – from my code comments … this has led to me removing some old legacy cruft…
  • the ‘refactor’ functionality – i.e. rename function old_name() and change all instances of it to new_name()
  • code indentation seems to work better under netbeans
  • inline ‘warnings’ (i.e. unused variable, previously undefined variable[x], syntax errors etc) – so I don’t have to wait for them to appear in a browser or elsewhere.
  • inline documentation etc while typing (i.e. type in in_array( and it reminds me where the needle and haystack are)
  • with the right them, a nicer editor Window (mine is based on BrandonDark)

x – Fails with global variables on legacy projects though – in that netbeans doesn’t realise the variable has been sucked in through a earlier ‘require’ call.

I did briefly look at sublime a few weeks ago, but couldn’t see what the fuss was about – it didn’t seem to do very much – apart from have multiple tabs open for the various files I was editing.


  1. I have been using the mix of pure vim, and jVi in nb, but lately since java 8 I am having hard time get jVi to work smoothly. Did you get this to work ?

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