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Tips to Updating and Upgrading with Eclipse

  • By Scott Nelson
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Depending on how often you update and traffic, you may see this screen for quite some time:

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Figure 4: Don't Panic; It Will Eventually Complete

Once the updates are located, you follow the prompts to the installation point. Again, depending on how frequently you run the updates, this may take quite some time. Once complete, you will have the latest incremental release.

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Figure 5: The final dialog

Preparing to Migrate to a Major Version Upgrade

When when I first started using Eclipse, I ran regular updates. However, the stability of later versions had put me in the category of only upgrading when I need new features or functionality.

One thing that has changed with Eclipse installations is that several pre-configured downloads are now available from the Eclipse site. Previously, pre-configured packages with related plug-ins were only available from companies such as MyEclipse. Although the Eclipse downloads do not have as broad of a mix of plug-in providers that MyEclipse has, most developers will find the Eclipse downloads quite adequate. Until recently, I ran two versions; one was the Java EE version (available at http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/) and the other was the PDT project version (http://www.eclipse.org/projects/project_summary.php?projectid=tools.pdt) for PHP development.

Recently, I upgraded from Europa to Ganymede. Even though Ganymede had been out for quite some time, the PDT project only recently released version 2.0. The previous version was Europa based. Having a single installation was incentive enough for me to upgrade my PDT version.

Theoretically, it should be as easy to install the PDT extensions into my Ganymede JEE installation. In practice, I find it easier to start with the PDT installation and add the JEE components. This may be because I am more familiar with installing the Java packages separately, or it may be because the Java tools are both the most mature and most popular.

The keys to a smooth migration are organization and/or preparation. It is an and/or proposition because if you aren't organized, you can make up for in proper preparation and if you are organized preparation is minimal. Either way, the end result will be a list of plug-ins, a set of preferences, and a backup of your previous installation.

As mentioned in "Building the Perfect Portable Eclipse Workbench," it is very convenient to have plug-ins that are available as downloads because it makes it easier to re-install them. Keeping these downloads organized as you acquire them will make it much easier to find them when you do a major upgrade. However, not all plug-ins are compatible with a newer Eclipse version, which is an argument in favor of the standard URL-based installation. In many cases, you can have a mixture of both types of installations.

If you haven't kept regular track of plug-ins as you installed them, you can find a list of all of your currently installed plug-ins using the Help\About menu.

Figure 6: Find Plug-in Details Under Help\About

This approach yields a list of all installed plug-ins, including those that are part of the installation package. Even though those where the provider is eclipse.org are easy to check off the list of your plug-in inventory, some are less obvious, such as those provided by emonic.org; they are also part of the pre-packaged set. A general rule of thumb is if you recognize the plug-in name, note it down for your upgrade process and ignore the rest. The idea behind this decision process is that if you don't recognize the plug-in name, odds are you don't use it much (or at all) anyway.

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Figure 7: Installed Plug-ins

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This article was originally published on January 15, 2009

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