[racket] DrRacket needs work

From: Tom McNulty (tom at cetiforge.com)
Date: Sun Nov 13 03:20:57 EST 2011

My work with racket usually comprises a 50/50 split between Emacs and DrRacket.   When working in DrRacket there are a few things I miss:

1) Autocomplete anything.  DrRacket expands built-in definitions, never my own, even within the current file.   While some fancy IDE's use context sensitive completions, this seems unnecessary for Racket.  Rather, functionality equivalent to emacs' simple "dynamic expand" (dabbrev-expand) would work very well. 

2) Responsive syntax colouring.  This might be a bit OCD on my part, but it's an annoyance nonetheless so I'll share it.   When inserting text such as comments and numbers, the characters are painted in the default colour before being recoloured into the syntax appropriate colour.  I'm a fairly fast typer, so this results in a 'flashing-effect' as the colours alternate; giving a perception of unresponsiveness.  
(Perhaps this is a platform issue? I'm using MacOSX 10.7, Racket 5.2 - I haven't noticed a degradation in performance with online-expansion on/off)

Some other suggestions borrowed from other ide's:

1) Inline / popup function signatures.  Racket certainly comes batteries-included, which is most appreciated.  It does however, mean spending a lot of time consulting documentation for less frequently used functions.  Often I'll remember the complete (or sometimes partial) function name, but need to reach for the docs to recall the function arity, argument order, and possible keywords.  I would be much more productive if the function signature could be displayed on demand.   Coupled with a cross-module autocomplete this would help if the coder rapidly lookup a function, even if they had but a partial name. 

2) Report errors messages inline.  Xcode, Eclipse, IntelliJ et al, mark offending lines with a red tick in the scroll bar.  I think this would be a nice compliment to the new online expansion.  

- Tom

On 2011-11-12, at 6:35 AM, Robby Findler wrote:

> On Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 11:19 PM, Raoul Duke <raould at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 7:43 PM, Neil Van Dyke <neil at neilvandyke.org> wrote:
>>> That's a topic for a different discussion thread, but... I'm guessing some
>>> factors that would affect this comparative assessment:
>>> (1) How much experience and skill one has with each.
>>> (2) What kind of work one is doing.
>>> (3) What preconceived notions one has about how such work should be done.
>> probably true, i shouldn't discount it.
>> (but it still probably needs ui rework. ;-)
> I tried to go back looking for specific issues that you might have
> mentioned in the past, but didn't find them. If you'd like to send me
> a list of complaints that would at least help me figure out if I can
> address them.
> Robby
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