Saturday, June 13, 2009

When a n00b met Galileo

First time I used Eclipse it was Europa. Completely missed Ganymede. And it was only early this year I saw Galileo taking shape. So this review comes from the perspective of a relatively novice plug-in developer.

Things I liked
  1. API Tooling
  2. This one is really impressing. I know its not new and had been around @since 3.4. But the new baseline compare feature is really lovely. I remember spending hours, sifting through the CVS history, to figure out who changed that function signature and when.
    With the new API Tooling view, we can now compare the code with any baseline and figure out what all got changed. Chris explains it in detail here.
  3. Hyperlinking
  4. Wow! Just Ctrl + Click on the variable, function, takes you to the declaration. F3 is cool. Does the same trick. But when I am browsing the code, following the call stack, Ctrl + Click is my scout. And where it betters the F3 is if its a method from interface, it lets you choose where you wish to go - declaration or the implementation. Mostly its the later one we want, isn't it?
  5. Export wizard enhancements
  6. The new "Use class file compiled in the workspace" option is such a time saver. I almost always have the "Build Automatically" checked. Glad that I don't have to wait for all the features to compile all over again when I export then. It just picks the class files from the bin directly. Also, its not very easy to export the plug-ins along with source bundles.
  7. P2
  8. It took a while to figure out just that P2 means Platform Provisioning (correct me if am still wrong). This is perhaps the next big thing in Eclipse, but frankly I have no clue how it works and will take some time to catch up. Then what  I like about it? Installation history and the fact that I can now actually 'revert' back the feature I installed for testing. Don't have to make a copy of eclipse to try it over it. If I don't like I can get rid of it.

Things I wish for
I feel the API tooling is yet to grow to its full potential. I'll like to see support for tentative API and better reports. The PDE UI need lot of working. Like Cheat Sheet editor is a PITA when you have to bulk update. P2 may have liberated the release engineers but I strongly feel it needs lot of help material to reduce the entry barrier for n00bs like me.

The wish-lists are always endless. With Galileo edition, Eclipse has come a really long way. And with E4 the vision reaches out farther than I can see. Glad to be part of Eclipse community.


  1. I am also a eclipse noob (still on ganymede)! I am coming from netbeans and one thing I really miss is the ability to browse the jdk java docs easily from the ide. As of right now I only know of the ability to look at the docs for the currently open source. I also find the help documentation difficult to find what I am looking for as the information seems scattered all over the place. The RCP docs seem difficult to navigate also. One more thing that bothers me is the fact that the profiler is not standard. Also the TPTP seems to be using an ancient on linux, it took a long time to figure out by googleing that I had to install a compiled against gcc 2.95? But in all I am pleased with the change from netbeans.

  2. P2 can also be defined as "Pascal's Project", "Pain in the Pouch", "Provisioning Platform", "Provisioning Perfected", or "Plug-in Provisioning". It's also the first two syllables of P'tootie, as in

    That said, it's much better than the alternative: the "Classic" Update Manager from the Eclipse 3.2 - 3.3 years.

  3. Tiran Kenja12:46 AM

    I am not sure how you define P2 as a new thing in 3.5, as it was introduced with 3.4 (after being pushed into one of the last milestones).

    Also while it is certainly a step in the right direction in some ways, it dropped some very useful features some of us actually used. And effectively turned an Eclipse installation into a 'black box with stuff in' as opposed to something we could actually easily manipulate.

  4. @Tiran
    I agree p2 came in 3.4 but the provisioning has evolved quite a lot 3.5. I may be as clueless about it but I can say this by seeing the bug activity around it. p2 may look like a black box but as the acceptance rises, we will see more articles and documentation. That shall improve the things. All I am clear about as of now is that p2 is here to stay.

  5. @Nick
    "Proceed with Precaution" :-)

  6. @Adam
    I have never worked on netbeans so really can't comment but I will take your word as its the similar story I have heard from others too. As you appreciated, Eclipse is not just an IDE and its that 'much more' about it that makes it cool. As for finding help, if Google isn't really helping you out , I would recommend trying the eclipse newsgroups and IRC Channels. Contributors are quite active there and almost always quite willing to help.