Yesterday, Ian posted an entry in his blog asking for community help to test a new downloads page that we’d like to realize for the Europa release. On this page are several new distributions of Eclipse. I’ve been testing various version of these packages for a while, and—for a first release—it’s looking pretty good.
Over the last few days, I’ve been reviewing the "Eclipse Tools for Java Enterprise Developers" package. This package contains the tools that you need to build, test, debug, and refactor Java, as well as tools for building applications based on Java EE technologies like servlets, JavaServer Pages, Enterprise JavaBeans, and web services (including support for Java EE 5). It also includes tools for editing HTML, CSS, and XML files, and more.
I’ve used it to all sorts of things including building and deploying applications on Tomcat 5.5 and 6.0, and JBoss 4.2. It all works swimmingly. One wrinkle is that the application servers themselves aren’t part of the package; you have to download and unpack these separately. Mercifully, you don’t have to do any configuration: the Eclipse Web Tools takes care of setting up instances of the application servers for you to test your code against.
Something that’s new is the Web Page Editor. I’ve been using this to touch up some HTML pages on a site that I maintain. I’ve also been tinkering with a few JSPs. I haven’t had the guts yet to try JSF (for some intangible reason, JSF scares me), but apparently that’s supported as well. Here’s a screenshot of the Web Page Editor in action:
It occurred to me to try and force it to work with PHP files (by adding a file association in the preferences), but it didn’t work. The Web Page Editor just doesn’t understand the tags. However, the beauty of having an extensible framework means that extensions to support that sort of thing should hopefully be something we can look forward to in the future.
Overall, I’m happy with the package. I like that it includes Mylar. I like that it doesn’t include the PDE or any of the source code (Java EE developers don’t need these). I’d like to see a future version include Subversion support, but that depends on the Subversive team getting an Eclipse 3.3-compatible release ready.
Bug 187879 has become the rallying point for discussion about our potential new download page; it also contains some discussion about the content of the packages. If you’re interested in helping to improve the Eclipse experience for new developers, please add your comments to this bug. If you find specific problems with any of the packages or just want to add your thoughts about what the existing packages should contain, look for (or contribute new) bugs against the EPP project. Of course, there’s also the EPP newsgroup.