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Building the Perfect Portable Eclipse Workbench

  • By Scott Nelson
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I am back on the hunt for the perfect XML tool. Eclipse has built-in visual editor that is fine for those that like visual XML editors. For those of us who prefer to work with XML in a text view with code-assist, the best option is the fee-based XML Spy. XML Spy is over-kill for a portable tool kit, however.

Honorable Mention: XMLBuddy

Plug-in Site: http://www.eclipse-blog.org/eclipse-plugin/xmlbuddy-for-eclipse.html (updated link)
Installation: Unzip

Sadly, this project is no longer being updated for current Eclipse versions. This means that it conflicts with most other plug-ins. I prefer editing XML in a text view, and will keep a separate Eclipse install just so I can use XMLBuddy. Do not install it in your daily work environment unless you have an older version of Eclipse or you may find yourself having to re-install Eclipse.

Additional Reference Links

As mentioned, there are many pre-configured Workbenches now available directly from the Eclipse Foundation at http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/.

Eclipse Plugin Central is the official Eclipse location for plug-ins, located at http://www.eclipseplugincentral.com/.

The best source for locating plug-ins is http://www.eclipse-plugins.info/eclipse/index.jsp. This site started on someone's home computer. It is so well organized, useful, and popular that a hosting company offered them a new URL for free (I'm not sure whether they are still hosting it for free, though).


From its beginnings in 2001 where a commercial code base branched into one of the most influential open source projects ever, Eclipse has evolved from a great concept to a great tool. Many of the commercial versions have very large resource footprints, making them preferable only in the environment they are meant to support. For a more generic environment that runs fast and allows you to be quickly productive, rolling your own custom Workbench may be a better option that downloading one that is pre-configured for someone else's day-to-day needs.

The plug-ins mentioned in this article are all mature projects. New plug-ins are being developed by individuals and companies daily, both for free and for fee. Your own perfect portable Workbench may differ from what is described here, but the odds are good that at least one of the plug-ins will make their way in, if they aren't already there.

About the Author

Scott Nelson provides optimization services, designing, developing, and maintaining web-based applications for manufacturing, pharmaceutical, financial services, non-profits, and real estate agencies for use by employees, customers, vendors, franchisees, executive management, and others who use a browser. For information on how he can help with your web applications, please visit http://www.fywservices.com/. He also blogs all of the humorous emails forwarded to him at Frequently Unasked Questions.

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This article was originally published on November 20, 2008

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