Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Your IDE of choice: survey results

I almost forgot about this one, what with all the flurry about what framework I should use, and trying to actually make some headway with it.

But there was that last survey I solicited: what IDE do y'all use.

So I've closed that one off now, and here are the results.  Cheers to the 73 people who responded to that.  That's the best participation I have had so far (which is good that it's the best response; not so good that the best response I can garner is 73 people! Not to worry: I'm not here to win any popularity contests ;-).

Firstly: the pretty chart:

ColdFusion Builder is the most popular amongst the people surveyed.  I'm slightly surprised by the fact there's far more people using the paid-for version than the free version.  I wonder what proportion of those using the full version paid for it themselves?  Speaking personally, I'm happy to use the free version because it is slightly better than CFEclipse, but it's definitely not worth the £210.33 (weird price) Adobe want to charge me for it.

Incidentally: the UK price @ £210 is £25 more than people in the States pay: USD299, which today is GBP185. That's 14% more, which is quite a high percentage for a difference that has no valid reason to exist. Thanks Adobe.  Can this all be explained away by tax differences?  There's VAT on the UK price, but no mention of sales tax on the US price.  Anyone?

Anyway, if you were one of the ones that use the paid-for version, could you add a comment to this article letting us know if you paid for it, or whether it was provided for you.  And if you had to pay for it, which IDE would you use?  Cheers.  Shoulda thought to ask that in the survey: doh!

What's interesting is that CFEclipse is not second (actually: I'm kinda surprised it's not first!), but Sublime Text is.  I had a quick look @ Sublime Text on the weekend, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. It did a coupla things OK, but on the whole was a bit raw-seeming compared to CFB or CFE.  It was definitely a lot faster - in every regard - to CFB though.  The speed issue is interesting, because I don't use any of the typing-assistance features in CFB because it's so bloody slow to react that I can just type stuff faster than it can do it for me.  I think this would not be the case in Sublime.  There were quite a few neat features in Sublime that CFB just doesn't have: just watch the demo movie on the home page to see what I mean.

One of my options was "Just a vanilla text editor", and both respondents there qualified this with "Notepad++", so I've used that as the label instead of the survey option.

Other comments mentioned jEdit and TextWrangler (I've not even heard of the latter... will look at it).

After that, the results are not surprising or noteworthy in any way.

The second question was asking why you didn't use CFB, if that happened to be the case.  This was a "written answer", and here are the responses:

Never took the time to sit down and learn that initial learning curve of getting started

Cost and CFEclipse works well enough. CFB isn't 64-bit and doesn't stay as up to date with Eclipse.

Employer will not buy - they don't see as needed since we are performing.

  •  Habit (I've been using CFEclipse for around six years now).
  • Integration with Eclipse (I'd rather use a stock Eclipse installation for _all_ things development, with plug-ins for pretty much anything I need, rather than a version that looks different and is controlled by one company, Adobe in this case).
  • Dislike of CFB. I've seen one of the pre-release versions a while ago I wasn't impressed by the way standard Eclipse toolbars had been organised. This is perhaps a little detail but this kind of stuff can be a source of real annoyance at times.
  • don't tend to shy away from paying for software and I don't even know how much Adobe want for CFB these days but when I first heard it'd cost around $200 I thought it's a bit outrageous given the fact all we're talking about is just a text editor. And also, building a plug-in on a solid, open-source foundation and then charge it a hefty price just doesn't seem fair.

Happy with CFEclipse

Full paid version is expensive and no real advantage compared to the express version or CFEclipse.

Checked the new CFB version and compared it to the fistfull (or so) of features I use of Homesite. CFB failed only in a few of them but without easy workaround. On the other side CFB offered only one or two things that worked better for me than in H+.

Creature of habit. Been using dreamweaver for years

I do use it, just not as my primary. don't need IDE features that often, just editing.

I like CFB2, but I like Sublime Text 2 a whole lot more :)

  • Autocomplete is slow
  • You can't do multiline cursor selects
  • Hangs on opening large files, especially if you are on a slower laptop
  • When a word is highlighted it doesn't highlight all matching words
  • I feel it's not js friendl , I might be wrong
  • Don't think it has LiveReload plugin

I confess I haven't tried it, but did have a go with Eclipse a few years ago and the experience was off-putting. My co-worker did experiment with CFB more recently and his experience was not great. A key issue is speed: Java desktop apps just aren't zippy enough.

Performance, Search, Project management, ...

It's simply too slow. Sublime Text doesn't have all the features of CFB but it's fast, responsive and extensible.

Haven't taken the time to find out if I need it or not.


My company won't pay for it, and the free version works. :)

I did for about a year but found sublime text w/ the CF package much quicker in addition to its CSS and JS support packages... lighting fast to navigation/search/etc

Expenses start to pile up after awhile. Adobe needs to cut the price a little.


It's still inferior to the Dreamweaver coder view

Too expensive. Can't justify the cost. I also use BBEdit, but really miss Homesite since moving from a PC to a MAC

Own it but it's sort of like lipstick on a pig. The model should have been a next era Homesite but what we got was a bad implementation of CFEclipse. Truly makes me sad everytime I load it for what could have been.

Because CFEclipse full feed my needs at the moment.

I tried CFBuilder in the past and the code completion, even at 0 seconds delay, was to slow for the way I'm used to coding. Granted, it could just be my crap work computer, but having been brought up on Dreamweaver, who's code completion was amazing, I couldn't work anywhere near as efficiently without it.


it's too expensive for what they are offering and not so stable as I'd like. I had 2 months experience with every CFB version from lab and release builds and didn't like any :(. It looks awesome but works as a suck.

don't like Eclipse

Can't afford it.

to bloated

I don't need the features it offers and the ColdFusion search irritates the hell out of me.

It feels heavy and slow in comparison to lighter weight editors.

Last time I tried it (about a year ago), CFB wasn't even able to reliably close tags and auto-suggest the appropriate attributes for a tag. It may have some interesting features, but if it's not even able to do the most basic of things I definitely don't consider it worth my money.

No linux support for CFBuilder is what got me started. But IntelliJ is great for everything - and now I can't live without it. CFML, DB stuff, Ruby, Groovy and Java coding. It rocks.


because its eclipse its bloatware, as slow as hell sublime text everything is instant, it loads literally instantly, switches projects literally instantly, searches instantly, has awesome plugins and community

I resent the fact it costs money and yet still uses eclipse. I have cfeclipse, its free, it does what I need. I don't want to give Adobe any more money than they have already taken. Largely its due to my resentment against Adobe, but also I honestly see no benefit. I'm aware there are some code completion benefits etc but that's just not enough. I've been using cfeclipse for years and years, i know it and it knows me. My only complaint of it is the eclipse part of it when it becomes unstable or has too many weird features. End of the day its an eclipse based cfml editor which costs money, and I have had a free one for years.

There's some common threads here:
  • 14 responses mention cost in some way, shape or form;
  • 10 responses mention performance.
This is quite telling.  From my own perspective, I agree with both of these.  One could look at it from the point of view that @ £210 for an application I use for about 8h a day, five (cough) days a week, 47 weeks of the year, that's only 11p an hour, and I'd get 11p of worth out of it.  but I could also pay nothing and get the same worth out of CFE.  Or, indeed, the free version of CFB which is what I use.  Why should I pay £210 for something I don't actually need?

I just checked the price on Zend Studio, an Eclipse-based IDE for PHP, and it's pricing is about £240.  The thing is - and I'm not much of a PHP developer - it's a helluva lot better than CFB.  Plus it has a free version.

On the other hand, I see Adobe's FlashBuilder is a whopping £500!  Blimey.  It must be good.

The baseline Visual Studio (which is simply incomparable to CFB: VS is a brilliant piece of software) is about £300.  And, again, has a free version.

Anyway, whether or not it's completely justified, having looked at what I get for CFB, I just amn't prepared to part with the £210 they're asking for it.

Aside from price, I think CFB 2.0.1 - the current release - is about the quality of a v1.0 first release.  I think it was embarrassing of Adobe to release v1.0 because it was not ready, and v2.0 was still almost unusably flaky and slow: it was borderline unusable IMO.  2.0.1 comes within a margin my patience allows for, but it still can't reliably syntax-highlight my code, struggles with larger files (esp. CSS files, for some reason), and is too sluggish for me to use half the features.

I've recommended to Adobe that they bin what they have now, and start again, except engaging the Zend team to write the thing for them.  They've got a well-proven track record and writing Eclipse plug-ins, and Adobe seems not to have.  That said: what little I've seen of FlashBuilder, it seems OK and responsive and quite good?  Can anyone who's used it comment on how FB performs compared to CFB?

Lastly, there was a "anything else to add" question, the responses for which were as follows:

I use ColdFusion Builder (CFB) because it's my company standard. Personally, I would use CFEclipse. It's free and better than CFB. CFB has a lot of bugs. Crash a lot when opening a big file that contains more than 1,000 lines of code. It's not worth paying $299 and not even worth paying upgrade $109. CFB is a piece of junk. By the way, recently I have been using Sublime Text 2. It is absolutely an awesome editor. Love it.

Abode seriously needed to release CFB with ColdFusion 8. Just too late with it to market. Also got burned with the whole DreamWeaver as replacement to CF Studio way back so just generally distrust any editor released for ColdFusion.

While I use mostly CFB, I also use CFEclipse, Notepad++, and Dreamweaver.

I used CFEclipse until switching to CFBuilder about 6 months ago.

Maybe CFB will make it some day but adding buzz features will not help when the basics are not complete - same goes for CF itself anyway (I'm a CFer since 96. I'm using HS or CF Studio since 1999)

Multiple selection FTW!

Before I was using both Sublime Text 2 and CB2. Using ST2 for html/css/js and switching to CB for CF. However, CB2 was performing slow one day and I just started using ST2 unintentionally for everything. I still have CB2 though.

DW is far from perfect but is acceptably "responsive" and has some excellent features such as Search/Replace and SFTP synch. But my co-worker has now switched to Sublime which appears take the "zippy" factor to another level - I'll probably be doing the same as soon as I can make the time.

Also use Notepad++ for quick and dirty code editing. Great product and free.

The main developers at my work use Sublime Text and they like it. I just couldn't get over the code complete and the lower amount of errors that I make with Dreamweaver.

Adobe also needs a more rapid development cycle for the builder. Fix bugs and push them out sooner. Add features more often. Just like the open source movement.

I still miss HomeSite+, but it just wasn't up to the task (code hints for CF9 and CF10, problems running on 64-bit, etc.). Ultimately, though, CFB took a long time to adjust to and now works just fine, and I'm sure I'm not even using its full potential.

cf builder as a plug in not standalone.

I hear a lot of derision regarding DreamWeaver. Honestly, as long as you stay away from their built-in JavaScript, it's great. I love the color-coding and formatting, and the Word clean up, and the file management is excellent.

I have used all the listed IDEs except for IntelliJ (it just looks so 1995 Java applet'sh ;) and have to say that CF Studio (and later DW UltraDev) were the most stable for me. I use CFB2.0.1 now, but if it wasn't for ctl(or cmd)+clicking a function call to jump to the function's definition I would already be using another IDE at this point (probably Sublime Text2, because I think Eclipse is the root of most of the suckiness). Truthfully, if I had my way Adobe would scrap CFB and even Brackets and piggy-back onto the Light Table project instead (another CodeMirror based project). Light Table (

I often use Sublime Text and IntelliJ as well.

CF Builder still has quite a few glitches and annoyances that make me want to chuck it as soon as a reasonable option comes out.

I use the free version on my home computer for personal stuff, since I can't put the company license there (I already have it on my work desktop and laptop). In a pinch, I'll resort to Notepad++ on rare occasions when I can't get to my desktop (like if I have to fix a minor issue live on the server - which I hate to admit to).

Seriously thinking of switching to an editor like Sublime2. It's just so fast and CFB is just so slow and wonky. I think that - for me - I am not taking full advantage of all of the features of CFB anyways... and if I am using it primarily as a text editor (rather than a full-blown IDE) then why not use a light-weight, quick text editor anyways? I do have to say that I am a bit disappointed that Adobe didn't get this right the first time around (or even since...) CFB to me feels as though it's a product that is weighed down by legacy code, backwards compatibility constraints, etc. - and yet it's a brand-new, from scratch product! It ought to be snappy and full of new, innovative features. I suppose this is because they bolted (no pun intended) it onto Eclipse using Aptana, etc.? The Brackets project is what CFB should've been...

Beginning the adoption of Sublime Text 2

Saw IntelliJ demoed at a meeting in a different language and it is very tempting. Only thing is that the CF implementation isn't quite there and doesn't seem to be getting much love by the company because so few people are using it. If anything would get me to switch it would be IntelliJ. Maybe Adobe should put all of its resources into building a better CF plug-in for IntelliJ instead of wasting any more money on CF Builder.

Sublime does everything CFB claims to be able to do, that I use/need, but it starts up faster, loads files faster, basically everything is faster in Sublime.

Cfeclipse has quite a few problems, but I like its extensibility. I wish it would get more updates though.

Eclipse-based editing in general has really been a sore point with me the last year or so. I tried moving to TextMate (with the CF plugin), Sublime Text 2 and IntelliJ Idea. However, I've been in the Eclipse world for over 6 years and the muscle memory for doing simple thinks like deleting a line (CMD+D) or duplicating a line (CMD+Option+Up arrow) for instance always bring me back to Eclipse. I spend way too much time trying to figure out how to do the things that are nearly automatic in an Eclipse world and wind up either a) getting frustrated with being so inept with the IDE or 2) having to get back to being much more productive because of deadlines. Cheers Mate! (I did my best British accent impression there just in case you missed it). Dan Skaggs (@dskaggs)

I've learned to love lighter editors versus full IDEs. Won't go back, even if I change editors.

Notepad++ and jEdit still have their place in my life. Notepad++ is fast enough when I need to just "pop" a file open. jEdit has an enjoyable multi-file search. The thing that makes me most often yell at CF Builder is when it inserts tabs instead of spaces when it does auto indenting. Yes, I'm a space supremacist.

DreamWeaver .. too heavy-handedly for me. Notepad++ with CFML plug-in - no intellisense.

I switched to Sublime about 6 months ago and I haven't even opened CFBuilder since. It's such a pleasure to use, the little things are what I really like about it. When I open a new tab, create a file, and do other small tasks the actions are animated which just makes it fun to use. Configuring the syntax coloring is a breeze since I can use any of the million and one Textmate color schemes out there. I can also use it to write just about any language out there.

Had been using Eclipse and CFEclipse and liked it very much. Eclipse has a bit of a heavy footstep so tried sublime-text and have been very pleased.

Plugged in the team foundation server from MS for eclipse and it works quite nicely. The downside is the synchronize functionality. It's broken so I use transmit for Mac to sync local and server branches.

i would use something else if it had svn and ant built in...i use cfeclipse at home its parser seems to throw up errors....tempted to try sublime

It'd be pretty interesting if someone starting building an extension to add CFML support to Adobe Brackets. I doubt Adobe would be happy about it (might take interest away from CFBuilder) but not much they could do since it's an open source editor. Plus it's built in HTML and JavaScript, I bet someone clever could even create an adapter to support CFBuilder CFML based extensions.

If I am going to use a java based editor then I'll use an eclipse one over anything else as we use it in work for Websphere (iRAD) stuff too, so for me that makes sense. The other editor I use is Sublime text and at the moment my development time is split 70/30 in favour of CFB. The split is swinging towards Sublime more now as I am learning the shortcuts and understanding what it can do so it won't take long before its my default choice. Sublime's power comes from what it can do under the hood, how it can quickly interact with other files outside of CFM, and the fact it has a strong user base with a ton of material out there.

sublime text is instant

Eclipse with CFB Plugin, since the standalone crashes often in 64-bit

I don't think CFB is good enough to warrant paying for yet, given it's not much better than CFE, and CFE is free. I think CFB lacks the polish and professionalism I'd expect from something from Adobe; I think CFB should be as good as Zend Studio is for PHP, which it is a long way behind. From 2.0 to 2.0.1 CFB resolved most of the performance issues it had, and it's syntax colour-coding almost works now. But there are still some very fundamental things wrong with it that really let it and Adobe down, I think
So that all speaks for itself.  Disclosure: that last one is my own comment.

One thing I regret in doing this survey is that I did not ask the question the other way around.  It's come across as being quite negative about CFB, and this - despite my personal not-positive opinion of it - was not my intent here.  I wish I had asked "what was it that made you move away from whatever you had been using previously and start using CFB?"  And "what features of CFB do you think are good?".  If you have the time and inclination, please add a comment to this article to provide some balance here.

And, on balance, I really don't think CFB is the worst thing in the world. It's just that I think it's a bit of a mis-hit and I expected better from Adobe.  But it's still OK, and at the end of the day I have chosen to use it.  I really think it needs a v2.5 though, to focus on getting its performance and stability issues completely sorted out, and forget about the bells and whistles for v3.0.  Oh... and both drop the price and get some price parity between the US and the UK.

I have no further ideas for surveys at the moment, so you're spared for the time being.