I saw some folks discussing and asking questions about MyEclipse, CFEclipse, and Eclipse in general on the CF-Talk list. I've been using all of these with good results so I thought I'd share some of my experiences using these tools.

First, the background. Eclipse is primarily a Java IDE, but is extensible through plugins, and there are a ton of them. CFEclipse is a plugin that helps you create ColdFusion applications by offering tooltips, validation, and much more. MyEclipse is a commercial bundle of plugins. Even FlexBuilder is a plugin. The nice thing about Eclipse is that you can pretty much snap any or all of these plugins into your installation.

Normally, to install a plugin into Eclipse you use Eclipse's built-in upgrade functionality in the Update Manager. This is under help-software updates-find and install. You can usually point it at the appropriate URL (look at the plugin documentation or site information) and let Eclipse pull down and install the plugin. It will restart and you'll be set.

Other times you have to manually download a zip file containing the plugin and extract it to your plugins directory. Be careful that you are putting the plugin in the correct place.

Yet other plugins, like MyEclipse, actually have their own installer. Since MyEclipse is a commercial plugin package, you have to run the installer and enter a valid serial number to be able to use it. You just point it at your Eclipse installation and it does the rest.

As an aside, sometimes you can install a plugin and it just won't show up. In cases like this, I've had luck with starting Eclipse in "clean mode". Set up a shortcut to Eclipse like "eclipse.exe -clean", which sort of kicks it in the butt and makes it reload everything.

Now before you run off and start downloading and installing all these plugins, I urge you to hold back for a moment and go read up on managing multiple Eclipse installations (thanks to Andy Jarrett for blogging that back in '05).

The idea here is to separate your core Eclipse installations (3.1 vs. 3.2 for example), your Eclipse workspaces, and your Eclipse extensions (plugins) into separate folders. This way it is much, much easier when Eclipse 3.3 or whatever comes out. Instead of having to reinstall all the plugins again, you can just point the new version at your extensions folder and bam, they're all sucked in. The same goes for your CFEclipse snippets (put them in the extensions folder) so multiple installations of Eclipse can all point to the same set of snippets.

Doing this is not very easy and it doesn't gain you a whole lot right now. But going forward this results in a much more maintainable setup, believe me.

One last bit of advice: back everything up. Eclipse is pretty huge, but since it is a Java application it is completely standalone. That means you can literally just copy all your Eclipse folders to a backup location with no issues. If you ever corrupt the installation or something horrible goes wrong with your system, you can easily restore. Don't underestimate how much time you will save by not having to completely rebuild everything. Trust me on this, I've had to do it both ways and the simple copy and paste beats the pants off reinstalling everything.

Eclipse is a great IDE but it has its prickly points and annoying nuances. It takes a while to get used to using it but the benefits are well worth it. Let me know if any of this is helpful, and if you have any tips or tricks of your own feel free to post about them in the comments.

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  • # Posted By Rao | 4/3/07 12:06 AM

    Thanks for sharing ur experiences.It really helps me in saving my time

  • # Posted By Adarsh Joshi | 3/3/08 8:52 AM

    Thank you so much for the knowledge nugget. I have a small problem here with eclipse. my project code use javax.microedition.io.* and import javax.bluetooth.* I am supposed to import JSR 82 to eclipse. I am not able to compile my code. Could you please let me know how to get about it..?
    Thank you