Eclipse: Good Editor, Bad Build System

For a large C/C++ project I'm involved in, Eclipse has been chosen as default IDE.

I have to say that I really like the editor. It has some functions that make me save time, such as the automatic highlight of the variables, the search for references inside a single project or the whole workspace, the possibility to work with gdb remotely (you know, I work on embedded systems), etc. I also think that some other things can be improved, for example the search, but all in all it's a good tool, in my opinion.

There's only one thing I have to complain: the build system. Because:

  • it is really slow,
  • the management of dependencies doesn't work as expected, and
  • errors and warnings are presented in a misleading way.

For this last point, I suppose this is because when running the compiler and the linker, stdout and stderr are parsed separately and then printed in the same window. The result is that error messages may appear after an unrelated build command.

The dependencies are another thing that in my opinion needs to be improved. For example, it would be great if the build stops as soon as one of the related builds fails. I'm really surprised this doesn't happen.

Speaking about the build speed and why it's so important, I totally agree with this post. Please consider spending five minutes of your time and read it.

The solution to these issues is to use custom makefiles. You may spend some time to set them up but, believe me, you'll save precious time when compiling and you won't be losing the concentration.

Luca Sommacal

Luca Sommacal

Italian developer (mainly in C for embedded platforms), Linux learner, addicted to rock music, history, science and few other things. Follow me on Twitter

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