[Pharo-users] Better Code Completion

Peter Uhnák i.uhnak at gmail.com
Sun Oct 4 17:53:57 EDT 2015


This is both rant and list of questions/notes/observations...

...but first of all:
do Smalltalkers not like code completion? Because the one in Pharo is
really poor and not only that nobody is doing anything about it, *but also
nobody is complaining*; this leads me to believe that you either

a) don't have the manpower (this is true pretty much always, so no
complaints here)
b) don't care about this that much (since you lived without it for 45 years)

at least from the lack of complaining to me it seems that b) is more likely
scenario...

But since I do use it, I get annoyed by it quite a bit, especially since I
regularly work in IDEs where this thousand times better.

Now I would like to get things moving a bit (or bury it and forget it), so
I have couple of questions and would appreciate if someone could provide
some feedback.

1. Methods of core/top classes should be deprioritized

Since Object has almost 500 methods whatever I will start typing
Object/TClass/TBehavior/... will have a list of answers...

so let's start typing...





Very often I have to type almost full word to see what I want.
Shouldn't the completion follow the inheritance chain? So first it shows me
matches from the class itself (especially since it actually knows the type)
and only after then it's parents and so on?

3. Or maybe even show the (closest) class that implements it.
So the last two items would have somewhere (beginning or the end) written
'(Object)' and the first two '(yourself)' (or the class's name).


2. The window has fixed size, so if I have longer method (as in picture
above) I don't see it all.

3. Is middle-of-the word really that often used? See
moseIntere<sti>ngEntity above. It feels to me that it just creates a lot of
false positives (I have this problem also with inspector btw, so I often
have to prefix it with >># or if I see it already lot of <arrow down>,
which is annoying)



4. We write tests, however how often have you manually created an instance
of a test class by hand? I think they should be either filtered or
deprioritized as they create visual clutter. This is probably also true for
many other classes such as ConfigurationOf/Manifest/... Nobody instantiates
them by hand.

5. How often do you send #abs to a dictionary? Maybe also deprioritize
extension methods?


6. If I have already written part of the selector it's impossible to
"continue" and add an extra parameter. This is because it doesn't know if I
am code completing for dict, or #key.
Maybe different shortcuts? <tab> to code complete on #key, and <shift+tab>
to code complete on the previous one... or maybe cycle through them because
this can be nested (the currently code completed item would have to be
highlighted somehow).


7. So if I don't want to see the above I have to type it manually; which is
fine for #at:put: but not for longer words.. (just to find out ten seconds
later that I have a stupid typo there).

8. The code completion doesn't show parameter names. This is very helpful
because it often reveals what it actually accepts. Now I have to actually
look into the code of the method.

Now we can hardly compete with typed languages, but I think there's a lot
lot room for improvement.

For comparison from other languages/IDE's.

PhpStorm/PHP

(notice how it shows the whole method if it's longer than the window and
doesn't it just clip)​

NetBeans/C++



In the picture above it ​still provides hinting when typing the parameter.

TypeScript playground


​(similar to NetBeans)

Also they have in their online playground better and nicer code completion
than we have in actual env (http://www.typescriptlang.org/Playground )

So if you have any thoughts/feedback/whatnot on this matter, I would
greatly appreciate it.

Peter
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