Last week Eclipse foundation delivered their 2010 installment i.e., the 3.6 version of Eclipse code named Helios. It was the largest release from Eclipse community so far as it involved 39 different project teams & 33 million lines of code (as per the data available in the official Eclipse web page). Helios comes with lots of new & interesting features and caters to the varying needs of the Software Development community.
Over the last few days, I spent quite a lot time exploring these new features. So, here is a list of 10 new features which I liked the most in Helios in no particular order. The first six are part of the Eclipse Platform & Java Development Tools (JDT), where as the last four are part of the Web Tools Platform (WTP).
1. Eclipse Market Place Client: Till Eclipse 3.5, installing additional plugins was not straightforward, as it involved searching for the right plugin & its update site URL outside the Eclipse environment. But, all this will be a story of past with the introduction of Eclipse Market Place & built in support for market place client in Helios. Eclipse Market Place, modeled on the concept of ‘App Store’ allows the developers to discover & install the plugins of their choice in an easy & intuitive manner straight from the Eclipse IDE itself. The market place can be accessed by selecting the ‘Eclipse Market Place‘ option under the ‘Help‘ menu.
2. Open Implementation: This new option available under the ‘Navigate‘ menu allows the users to open an implementation of the abstract method within the same hierarchy. If there is more than one implementation for a particular method then it shows all such implementations in a quick type hierarchy pop up box. By default, no short cut keys are assigned for this option. However, one can easily bind a short cut key by visiting ‘Windows –> Preferences –> General –> Keys‘ option.
3. Package Name Abbreviations: This feature makes it possible to apply custom rules for abbreviating package names in Java. This rules can be configured from the ‘Window –> Preferences –> Java –> Appearance‘ page.
4. Virtual Folders: Virtual Folders, as the name itself indicates, these new type of folders are purely virtual in nature, meaning they are visible in the workspace but, there won’t be any real folder on the file system. These folders can contain only other virtual folders & linked resources.
5. Compare Configurations: This option allows us to compare two different installation history configurations. So, one can easily find out what was installed, uninstalled or updated in the various installations. It even allows us to delete unwanted installation configurations in order to free up the disk space.
6. Instance counts: The Variables view comes with a new column called ‘Instance Count’ which displays the number of instances corresponding to concrete type of each variable.
7. Support for JSF 2.0:The newly added support for JSF 2.0 makes it possible to configure a dynamic web application project as a JSF 2.0 project. The tool also allows the users to download few of the JSF 2.0 implementation libraries.
8. Support for Apache Tomcat 7: Though Tomcat 7 is still in beta, Eclipse 3.6 comes with a built in support for its runtime.
9. Support for Apache CXF: Apart from the previously supported Axis2 web services, Helios also supports Apache CXF web services. With the emergence of CXF as an alternative for Apache Axis2, the newly added support for CXF will surely be useful for developers planning to explore or use CXF. Just like the support for Apache Axis2, we can create CXF specific ANT files for creating web services without using the WTP Web service wizard.
10. JAX-RS Project Facet: The new JAX-RS project facet provided as part of the WTP provides robust support for developing REST full web service applications. This new facet supports both 1.0 & 1.1 versions of JAX-RS. With the increasing use of REST full web services, I believe this option will come in very handy for the java developers.
If you are also one of the Eclipse Helios user, please feel free to share your favorite features here.