Sunday, April 24, 2005

Emacs Code Browser

Recently, I switched to KDevelop as my primary IDE. Yesterday, I loaded the source code of mlt++ and boom! - it crashed. I was about to switch to SourceNavigator but then I remembered something. Back when I was a "proud" emacs user, I used to use ECB, the emacs code browser. Out of curiosity, I checked out the latest copy from CVS and loaded all of mlt++ code. To my surprise, it parsed the entire code base! . The version of emacs that was installed in my system is slightly old (21.3.x) and I read that a number of improvements were made since then. Besides, I never liked the lesstif based interface. So checked out a copy of the latest sources and built a spanking new version with gtk2. Here is a screenshot of a session.


At the core of ECB is the semantic framework (provided by CEDET) which provides support for parsing code. Intellisense (aka autocomplete) basically works but it has a lot of rough edges.

ECB comes with a number of different window layouts. Another big plus is it works just as well in terminals. Not many IDEs can do that.

There is one problem with ECB though: its key bindings. To go to the method display window from the editor window you have to type C-c . g m - a total of 5 keystrokes! - this is a punishment considering the fact that the Control key is badly placed on most keyboards.

A longterm gripe with emacs is it's font selection mechanism. XLFD should go away, period.

I like thin 'bar' cursors rather than the stocky block cursors, Adding this line in ~/.emacs solved the problem.

(setq default-frame-alist '((cursor-type . (bar . 1))))

Will post more details as I continue to explore ECB and friends.


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