Thursday, June 23, 2005

Why a quick reference tool?

To me having a quick reference tool is just a very nice thing when you're programming as you can very quickly get some quick information--often just to jog your memory--and do so without a lot of effort, like waiting for some big program to load, or being forced to follow some template or have some auto-sense shadowing whatever you type.

I got excited about Class Viewer, the prototype, way before I had a SourceForge project, when I thought about the case insensitive search on methods, where I could just put in a bit of a method name, or put in something like "char" to pull out all methods that had "char" in them, whether they took chars or returned chars, or whatever, as I just hadn't seen that yet in other tools.

And javadocs, for some reason, as important as javadocs are, and despite Sun having produced a nice generic framework for accessing javadocs to the method, it can be a pain keeping up with them.

But if you're doing a quick reference, get a method, but are not sure that it's exactly the method you want, don't you want immediately to see the javadocs to clear that up?

Why should it not be a fluid process that follows the developer's needs?

Well, it can be, and that's what you get with Class Viewer.

It encapsulates a special problem space for the Java developer--quickly looking up basic information about a class, searching on methods, and then, if necessary, getting immediately to javadocs, and that's the problem space.

I used two big windows so that you could easily see the methods to one side as a constant, and get results on the other side, as well as get to, if you need them, constructors and fields.

A tool like Class Viewer by making it easy for people to get to javadocs gives developers greater reason to write them and write them well knowing that people are going to be using them, as it's so easy.

So that's a lot of the concept. Ease of use, quickness and functionality are the ideas behind Class Viewer, where it's supposed to be lightweight, useable in a wide variety of areas, without forcing you to have to get a manual to figure out how to use it fully.

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