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Building the Perfect Portable Eclipse Workbench

  • By Scott Nelson
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Figure 3: Step 2—Add A New Remote Site

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Figure 4: Steps 3+—Follow the Prompts

The installation prompts are intuitive and usually very clear.

The other method is to download the plug-in contents and manually place them in the plug-ins path. Some plug-ins also require files in the features path. This installation process requires that you exit Eclipse prior to adding the plug-in files. This is my own personal preference for installation because it does not require an active Internet connection and I find the update manager to be slow for many popular plug-ins. Plus, I can keep the installs on a USB key, handy when working at a high-security client facility where Internet access is either non-existent or so highly restricted as to prevent access to online installation sites. However, the manual process makes it easier to install incompatible plug-ins, so both methods have their advantages and drawbacks.

In this article, I will share the plug-ins I keep on my USB key and find the most frequent use for. All of them are available in a free version, and some also have fee-based versions offering more features.

It is important to note that there are now Eclipse pre-configured Workbenches available at the Eclipse download site that have some of these plug-ins features already pre-configured. For pure Java development, I use the "Eclipse Classic" version as the basis of my portable Workbench. At home, I use an older "Europa" version as my baseline because it was pre-configured with PHP plug-ins.

Eclipse SQL Explorer

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Figure 5: SQL Explorer Provides All Your Database Basics

As I may have glossed over earlier, my focus is on web-based applications. This work always requires a database connection at some point. There is a plethora of database tools available for free and fee, some specialized for particular databases and some very generic. For the most part, on a J2EE web project all that is needed by most developers is a tool to run simple queries and view an existing structure, rather than a full database development tool. Besides, one more application open is more resources being consumed on a developer's machine that is probably already straining its limits.

The Eclipse SQL Explorer is a great low-overhead plug-in allowing connectivity and basic database interaction within the same IDE you are writing the Java code to eventually do the same. It supports almost every database you will need to work with, and provides advanced features for the most popular databases.

Plug-in Site: http://eclipsesql.sourceforge.net/
Installation: Choice. Download and unzip, or use the Eclipse Update mechanism

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This article was originally published on November 20, 2008

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