Eclipse has grown the past few years from being a fairly good java development tool to being a fully functional proffessional development suite for many different environment. I have followed Eclipse the last 4 years, and from when Eclipse 2.1 came out in 2003, I was a devout user… Officially 28th march, but I had used it for 2 months already by then.

Before 2003 I had had little experience with Java development, but got a semester job as student assistant in a programming course where we used Eclipse as development platform with Java. And that summer, I got a job with making new tests and exercises for the same course for the next year, and finding suitable tools for development tools, design tools etcetera. My choice was of course: Eclipse as development tool, Poseidon for UML as design tool, and Java 2 SE 1.4 as programming platform.

Poseidon was ditched later for Dia because of size, speed and the problematic sides of using a commercial product (although for free as with the community edition) in free education. But that was small in comparison with the introduction of Eclipse into the university education. Eclipse has graually been used more deeply, and thoroughly in more courses.

And my use of Eclipse had not yet stopped. In 2003 I began my master’s degree in Computer Science, where I studied the consistency problems of Distributed Hash Tables (DHT), and ways of solving it. Once again: Programming platform and development environment; Java 2 SE 5.0 and Eclipse, and Eclipse lived through 2.1, 3.0 and 3.1 before I got to deliver my thesis. I also got quite some experience with LaTeX and Kile there too.

Later I got work at Market Monitor, where most of the developers were using Borland JBuilder for developing Java. But as we used an older free version with limited functionality, and Eclipse already was used for PHP Development, I quickly got tired of repeated program switches, and constant swapping on my computer from two that large programs running (and with my own development work needing quite some load too), I swapped to Eclipse 100%.

But as the SVN tree was build for JBuilder, and even some of the code was specifically coded for Windows, I have not been able to move to Linux too. But Eclipse is in use, and with the release of Callisto last month, I have finally been able to move even more over to Eclipse. There are also a list of plugins we (and I) use for helping me in Eclipse, and some of those are vital to my work.

Main Development Tools

  • PHPEclipse: PHP-Eclipse consists of tools for developing PHP scripts and smarty templates with syntax highlighting, integrated web viewing, database and http server control. It's not that big, but with the PHP and TPL syntax highlighting, and autocompletion, developing advanced web pages have become a game.
  • Eclipse Web Tools: With Eclipse Web Tools, which is not a signle project, but a collection of web and xml-centric development tools, developing pure HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript etc. files have got their tool. For not that long time ago, we had to aquire MyEclipse to get a lot of this functionality. Not that expensive for the student version, but not the best solution anyway.

Helper Tools

  • AnyEdit: A small tool for normalizing files for sharing. It can change the file content in non-changing ways like replacing tabs with spaces, removing trailing whitespace etc. It gives less differences in diff view when comparing SVN Head and Working Base file versions.
  • Subclipse: A Subversion plugin for Eclipse. Enables SVN respository synchronizing and differenciating on the same level as the builtin CVS feature.

External Tools

  • MySQL Query Browser: The MySQL Query Browser is a simple program to work with a database and debug queries, browse tables etcetera. Can be used for simple modification queries too. But for complex operation, and interactive modification, it is useless.
  • Tortoise SVN: A simple yet powerfull integration between the Windows Explorer API and the SVN framework. Simple to use, and helps a lot when I don't want to use the Eclipse to manage versioning. Has a very powerfull difference editor and conflict management system.

Its not the meaning to ditch Sun, as Sun’s NetBeans has come quite in the shaddow here. NetBeans 5.0 has become a very good competitor to Eclipse, and is an enormous improvement since 4.0. But it seemed that Sun needed the real competitor to make the really good IDE they almost already had. But I have very little experience with NetBeans, and has almost never used it since 3.5 (which I didn’t like at all).