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Building the Perfect Portable Eclipse Workbench

  • By Scott Nelson
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Common Source Control Integration

An IDE that is integrated with source control is a pre-requisite for some schools of Agile development, and is definitely a sanity-saver when working on large code bases or with large development teams. IDE integration lowers the likelihood of leaving the stray file locked or being out of synch with the rest of the project for long periods when combined with basic good source control habits.

CVS is pre-installed. Almost every source control application has an Eclipse plug-in. The two I find that I need the most are for ClearCase and Visual SourceSafe. All of the source control plug-ins tend to work the same, using the right-click menu at project, folder or file level under the Team sub-menu. The preset configurations work for most folks, although I like to tweak mine and find this to be the trickiest part with some source control plug-ins.

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 6: Multiple Options Can Make Custom Configuration Confusing

The free ClearCase plug-in only works with ClearCase Explorer. For ClearCase Remote Client, you will need the IBM plug-in, which is available free if you have their commercial installation of the source control tool. It is much faster than the free plug-in, although less configurable.

Clearcase plugin for Eclipse

Plug-in Site: http://sourceforge.net/projects/eclipse-ccase
Installation: Unzip

VSS Plugin for Eclipse

Plug-in Site: http://sourceforge.net/projects/vssplugin/
Installation: Unzip

Sysdeo Eclipse Tomcat Launcher Plug-In

For rapid prototyping of JSP/Servlet-based architectures, nothing beats Tomcat for a deployment environment. Even though debugging servlets is very straightforward in Eclipse, JSPs can be annoying to debug, having to create logging statements and then go and fetch the compiled version from the work directory and look up the line number where the error occurred. With the Sysdeo plug-in, you can launch Tomcat easily from within Eclipse and debug JSPs run-time.

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 7: Hitting a Breakpoint in a JSP

Plug-in Site: http://www.eclipsetotale.com/tomcatPlugin.html
Installation: Unzip


Doing code reviews can be a tedious task. PMD allows you to scan your code and find potential coding standard violations very quickly. If you find that you have a hard time getting your team to adhere to coding standards, you can configure PMD code style violations to be run at compile time and prevent compilation until the standard is adhered to. This approach does require getting the developers to install it, and hoping they don't follow simple procedures to disable that functionality, however.

Plug-in Site: http://pmd.sourceforge.net/
Installation: Unzip

Omondo UML

There are times when you get what you pay for, and Omondo is a good example of that. The free version is usually available only for the previous version of Eclipse. Other than that, it is the best of the free versions, although there are many runners-up to debate. In all honesty, I stick with this one because it has been around the longest and I am familiar with it. It provides a quick and easy way to generate UML inside of Eclipse based on existing code. For serious UML work, I prefer the commercial versions, even though they tend to be resource hogs, so I use them stand-alone rather than trying to integrate them into my development Workbench.

Plug-in Site: http://www.eclipsedownload.com/download.html
Installation: Unzip

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This article was originally published on November 20, 2008

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