Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eclipse PDE Target Platform Provisioning

Now finally something that I think P2 will do that will kick butt. Chris Aniszczyk, Eclipse PDE *co-lead, has announced on his blog that Eclipse 3.5 M7 will have a feature that can provision your Eclipse Platform Target for your Eclipse Plugin/RCP based work. Why could this be cool? Well one of the headaches in writing Eclipse plugins(bundles) is the need to establish the target platform. You can try a maven repository or the like, but as everyone knows, the best way to write an Eclipse plugin is to use the Eclipse PDE, or more succinctly, use Eclipse to build Eclipse.

So up until now the only way to do this was to setup an alternate installation of Eclipse and point your target platform setting at it. This works moderately well if you only need something like the Eclipse SDK or the Eclipse RCP packages. The problem is often setting up your platform when you need other bundles (particularly when you need something like Eclipse WTP or BIRT for instance). You need to go download all the bundles required for you to develop and build your Eclipse based product. What you wind up doing (especially if you are me) is going to download all the SDK archives that are likely to contain all the bundles you require. This leads to bloat, is a bit sloppy, makes management of that platform a pain, but it has the advantage of working quickly.

Never heard of a Eclipse Platform target for Plugin development and you have written any number of Eclipse plugins? Well that is because by default the platform target is set to your current Eclipse installation. Also I believe you probably have not had to support a plugin in the field for real. Why? Because if you have never heard of a Target platform, you have never had to worry about the version of Eclipse your plugin is running in. Another factor is if you are like me and like to run the later milestone versions of Eclipse, while deploying your Plugin/RCP Application on the current released version of Eclipse.

So enough background, this blog entry describes that as of Eclipse 3.5M7 it will use the Eclipse P2 Update mechanism to allow you to point at a URL for a platform that you are developing against. The new Eclipse PDE will take care of downloading all those plugins for you. That is cool beyond description, well unless you like creating target platforms and going through the extra mile to remove unneeded plugins. In fact, this is the kind of coolness I felt when I first saw how Maven can download all your project dependencies for you (I know Maven does far more, but for me it is far and away the killer app).

I know that an Eclipse RCP application I have worked on in the past had a target platform that was huge, where 80%+ was unneeded, but paring that down had to be balanced against the time required to remove unnecessary components and having it work correctly. This has the promise of doing 90%+ of that work for you. Taking the downloading out is one major step forward. I am hoping that you can use it to pare down the collection of bundles in your target platform. That would absolutely rock...

Update: I think this will pare things down if paired (love the pun there) with a new feature in Eclipse JDT called 'Runnable Jar-in-Jar Exporter' Nice... Nice... Just wondering who the heck named that feature? Runnable Jar-in-Jar Exporter? Oh well as my grandmother used to say, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride..."

Update: I have been corrected, Chris Aniszczyk is the Eclipse PDE co-lead along with Darin Wright. Lord knows, since I work alot with Eclipse, I don't want either one of those dudes annoyed at me. ;)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Groovy Eclipse Release

The time has come finally for a release of the Groovy Eclipse plugin. The plugin has been published to the update site.

There are a few notes to make.

First off there is now refactoring support inside the plugin for your Groovy Code. To see this demonstrated head over to this wiki page. Besides documentation there are some pretty cool flash demos of the features which should entice.

Second, the groovy plugin now supports the 1.5.7 version of Groovy.

Third, this release does not contain support for the joint compilation of Java and Groovy code by the Groovy compiler. This is a priority for the next release, and is a perfect segue to the next note.

Fourth, please feel free to visit the wiki page Groovy Eclipse Roadmap. There the Groovy Eclipse team is collecting priorities and feedback for features to be added to future versions of Groovy Eclipse. The plan is to release another version here before the end of the year or soon after the new year, depending on the issues that are resolved, feedback from the community of users and the release schedule of new versions of Groovy.

Fifth, if you are having issues with the plugin, please contact either the Groovy Eclipse mailing list (you can subscribe here), follow Groovy Eclipse on Twitter. or browse/add JIRA issues here. Your feedback is much appreciated.

Finally, as the Groovy Eclipse project lead, I would like to thank our contributors that made this release possible, in particular Thorsten Kamann, Michael Klenk, and Heiko Bottger. Finally a shout out to Guillaume Laforge, for helping to keep Groovy Eclipse afloat and me on track. Thanks everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Introduction to Groovy Monkey Presentation

Introduction to Groovy Monkey

From: jervin,
2 minutes ago

Introduction to the Eclipse scripting tool Groovy Monkey. Groovy Monkey allows for you to engage in API exploration, Task Automation, Plugin prototyping and collaboration in a lightweight and simple way.

SlideShare Link

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Roadmap for Groovy Eclipse work

Hello everyone. I know Ed Povazan has not been active, so I will try and step in to fill the void. There has been activity on the Groovy Eclipse development mailing list requesting a roadmap for the future of plugin work. I know that I have been on a soapbox for a while now about how we need full time and paid work to support the plugin, but I think I should take a stab at what I think that the near future of the plugin should be. I think that the current trunk (or what is out on the dev update site) is a viable candidate for a release. I know I have been telling people over the last couple of months to use the updateDev site and not the main release update site. This is not an acceptable circumstance, the dev site is for internal or beta testing only, but the current release version of the plugin leaves me with no option. I know that there may be some refactoring coolness out there and I do not want to discourage progress in any way, but the current version of the plugin on the release site is quite frankly an embarrassment.

So given this state, I propose that we cut a release that includes Groovy 1.5.6 oand represents what is out there on the update development site, so that we can in good conscience tell people to point at the release update site. After the release of Groovy 1.5.7 so that we can accommodate the refactoring, we can include the new stuff and then release it to the development update site for evaluation. This is based on what I understood from the earlier emails that the refactoring work requires Groovy 1.5.7. After a time, a couple of weeks say, if it proves itself stable and ready, then lets push out a version to the main release site. This is relatively standard practice and I see no reason to circumvent it.

This does bring up an interesting point, a couple of years ago it was possible to get new versions of the plugin out quickly because there was a reliable set of beta testers that could give us feedback quickly. Scott Hickey's (the previous Groovy Eclipse lead) team working on a project would download the plugin and put it through its trials and we could find out trouble quickly. It would be interesting to discover if there is anyone out there who could fill this function. As an Eclipse developer, it is amazing how new eyes can find configuration, provisioning, installation and general plugin bugs when you thought everything was fine. This sort of feedback and work is vital.

If we can get regular activity restarted on the plugin (ahem... listening G2One?), I think that releases should occur at regular intervals of between 4 to 6 weeks, in line with common Agile iteration or spring intervals.

If no one has an issue with this, I will go ahead and build a new release and promote it to the main release update site.

As far as a roadmap goes, I had a brief chat with Scott Hickey (the old Groovy Eclipse plugin lead) and I think we came to a simple understanding.

* First, there is some major work that needs to be done under the hood to not have the plugin use the version of the groovy runtime installed in the workbench, but rather use the one that is set for the workspace.

* Second, there needs to be a structure like IJavaElement, or the equivalent, to allow the Groovy Eclipse plugin to support different versions of the Groovy libraries for different projects. The second issue is related to the first issue to some degree.

* Third, there needs to be better integration of the groovy compiler with Eclipse JDT support. I saw an example in the Scala Eclipse plugin where the project has the Eclipse Java nature added to the project, but the Java Builder was not added. This allows the Scala plugin to provide the scala tools to build the class files. I think that something like this should be done for Groovy Eclipse, especially since the groovy compiler will now compile java as well. This will also prevent collisions between the Java builder and the groovy builder.

* Fourth, we need to be chasing the standard that the good folks at IntelliJ have been blazing. The Groovy Eclipse plugin should try and provide most, if not all, the kind of support that IntelliJ is giving to Groovy now. I think what it does for dynamic methods is awesome.

* Fifth, refactoring tools need to be provided that are robust and first class. Hey great job y'all on this one, this kind of work aint easy. I am still intrigued by this notion, because I would love to see good dynamic language refactoring that is more than just grep and replace.

* Sixth, provide at least a basic level of support for Grails development. I know that there has been some work on providing Grails support, but I know it could only be of the very basic sort and there is so much in Grails that screams for IDE support. I mean how cool could it be to get help with writing those GORM domain classes for instance?

* Seventh, enable Eclipse Plugin Development using the Groovy language. This is really more of a personal desire, I think that Grails support or any of the other points I have listed would affect far more people. Still it would be nice to be able to do more and more Groovy Eclipse work in Groovy, right? I think so. As part of this effort we could try to leverage and improve Groovy support for EMF. Heck maybe we could make EMF usable! (*duck*)

* Eighth, as I stated above, if regular work can be restarted on the plugin, there should be regular releases on the order of 4 to 6 weeks apart.

* Ninth, after getting the plugin in a better state, we need to get companies like Genuitech, eBay and other eclipse distribution providers to start including the plugin, if not included by default, at least as an option. I will make a point to get it in to Genuitech's Pulse service.

Most of the points I came up with really were off the cuff, so if you can think of others, please don't keep it to yourself!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Notes from Eclipse Day at Googleplex

Before I go into any details, I want to say that the Google t-shirt that I got for attending was almost worth the airfare, hotel stay and car rental. Man am I a cheap date or what? Also I would be remiss if I didn't thank Robert Konigsberg and the rest of the Google Open Source Office for organizing the event.

It was great to meet Ian Skerrett, Bjorn Freeman-Benson
, and others that I have only had opportunity to communicate with over blogs or mailing lists. It was also nice to catch up with Chris Aniszczyk and Wes Isberg there as well. Of course while this is all nice and dandy, lets get to the actual event.

Eclipse @ eBay: Michael Galpin
Mr. Michael Galpin did what amounted to the "keynote" address of the event. He went into a brief history of eBay and the technologies used to develop the site and then went into some of the work that has been done at eBay with Eclipse. Before I continue, I should mention that I worked as a contractor for eBay for a little over a year and that I have a better perspective than most on what is going on there. eBay is HUGE into Eclipse, in fact, I wonder if there are many organizations more committed to using Eclipse and working on creating developer tools using Eclipse. Still I found the presentation on what eBay is doing with V4 in the presentation layer quite eye opening. I was working on an Eclipse plugin to support their internal SOA framework, so I was a bit segregated from V4 work. Now I kinda wish I wasn't so segregated, some of it is quite cool. I mean I know I always wanted to leverage Dervlets, but Spyglass is pretty cool. There is a nice PDF of the presentation notes available at this link. One thing to note is how Java centric eBay really is, just about everything is a Java class. I wish I had asked during my time there why the decision was made to do that, particularly the tradeoffs. One other thing, I wish my plugin work and the SOA framework had garnered a bullet in that presentation somewhere, oh well. I mean Wes Isberg's simple, but cool, Auto-configuration plugin got a mention. Not that I am jealous or anything. ;)

One final note, Mr. Galpin literally said that there are plans to open source all the tools shown during that presentation. People should hold them to that promise.

How Mylyn Changes the Way I Develop: Bjorn Freeman-Benson
After the eBay session, the event bifurcated into two parallel tracks. The net effect was that you needed to choose which event to attend. While I have an abstract interest in CDT at the current moment, I was more intrigued by the session on Mylyn. I mean I have tried to use it and I see the arguments for something like that. What I haven't done is well, get it. I have tried it and never managed to successfully integrate it into my workflows. I have gotten to know and respect Mr. Freeman-Benson while interacting with him over at the Eclipse Dash project, so I was hopeful he might allow me to 'get it' or at least motivate me to try again.

Before I get into the notes I have from the presentation I need to pass off some advice. This goes to Bjorn or anyone else giving a presentation, don't ever give a presentation that someone else prepared, period. I know it was probably due to the fact that Bjorn was stepping in for someone else, but yikes.

In the beginning Bjorn covered the motivation for Mylyn, things that I think everyone will admit that modern software engineers have to deal with even with a nice IDE like Eclipse. The problems are the need to context switch, to mulitask and to manage information overload. He did not go into the traditional ways that developers in Eclipse try to manage this, but it bears mentioning. Eclipse users usually use multiple workspaces, multiple workbench instances and try to make use of things like project/team sets. None of the traditional ways are satisfactory. So what is Mylyn's approach? First off, I love this, Mylyn allows you to keep all your stuff in just one workspace. Mylyn's focus is on cutting down the full workspace to only those elements that you need at a given time.

So how does Mylyn accomplish some of this? Well in Mylyn the notion of a task is made a first class citizen. Before you do anything in Eclipse using Mylyn, you need to do it in the context of a task. Mylyn has stuff to manage tasks and to integrate with common issue tracking packages like Bugzilla and JIRA, among others. Mylyn also allows you to be able to acquire your tasks from multiple sources. So once you have a task, Mylyn stores contextual information about what elements in the workspace you associate with a given task. This is where some of the black magic kicks in, Mylyn has a Degree of Interest Model that it maintains in order to know what to filter out of your views. This has always been the rub for me to start with Mylyn, everything is hidden at first and you must start from a task.

The cool thing though is that once a context is created, it is possible to share that easily with other team members. Now the cool thing for me is that the context is not shared via a team provider, but that Mylyn will create an attachment in the issue tracker that another team member can use automatically in their Eclipse workbench using Mylyn. I love that since it is logically associated with the task and that they did not punt the trouble to the team provider.

Another cool item, in fact, a killer app type item for those who like Agile software development methodologies, is the automatic time tracker. When you are using Eclipse with Mylyn, you are always with in the context of a task, so when you are doing stuff in the IDE then, Mylyn will keep a timer. This is a killer app, since anyone who does agile knows that the most difficult thing to do is to estimate the time to implement a given feature. In fact, it is so difficult that XP for instance tells you to use 'yesterday's weather', in other words, look at the last time you had to implement a given feature, and use that time. Well that only works if you accurately track your time on task. Mylyn could make this seamless and easy. This feature alone makes me want to use Mylyn, even if I leave the filtering off all the time.

I want to make one more comment about the presentation on Mylyn concerning workspace provisioning. Bjorn went into alot of Q&A with the audience and did cover more details of Mylyn. Still, what struck me about the presentation was how close Mylyn is to a full workspace provisioning solution. I need to look at Eclipse Buckminster and check out Genuitech's Pulse product again. Workspace provisioning for me is almost as big a deal as P2 and the Eclipse provisioning effort. I mean how long does it take for new people to be able to install Eclipse and get all they need to be able to check out the code from SCM and start working with it? I mean really, how long, do you even know?

Building Great RIA with ATF: Philippe Ombredanne
First off, I want to say I got the chance to meet Philippe at this event and I really like him. Second, is there any Eclipse project that he hasn't been intimately involved with? I think the list of projects at Eclipse he has been involved with would rival some of my earliest Christmas wish lists to Santa, I mean wow! Most of the presentation (at least the part that I was able to grok) covered the ATF project's live Javascript debugger. I am not an AJAX developer, so I admit much of what he showed was a bit lost on me, but even I admit the fact that you could monitor requests easily. He demonstrated how a click in the ATF embedded browser to Google Maps would show up as request response pairs in a nice viewer inside Eclipse. Makes me want to try and do some Web mashups (me even!). The other thing that struck me was the fact that they took the Mozilla Firefox XUL Runner build and embedded it as a bundle inside of Eclipse. I thought that was cool, since it provides an embedded browser to play with that is not the Eclipse default browser and I wonder what kind of API I could potentially play with. You know I am thinking a Groovy/Eclipse Monkey script to try it out. Awww yeah!

Wiring Hacker Synapses: Collaborative Coding and Team Tooling in Eclipse: Scott Lewis & Mustafa K. Isik
First off I want to say that I love what this demo and plugin could entail. Being able to do shared sessions on the same document is the first step towards better collaboration and hopefully better software development in general. If you haven't seen the video, go Google for Cola and ECF and check it out. The simple demo that Mustafa did there was in the most part better than attending this presentation. I wish he had done some more demo instead of theory. Still this is a good first step. The problem comes later. With shared sessions, how do you integrate properly with Team providers and make sure that the workspaces are provisioned correctly? I think that they should focus on allowing a remote Eclipse user to "shadow" the workspace of a local Eclipse user. This way you have a "master" workspace that the local user is responsible for provisioning and the responsibility is removed from the remote user. Still ECF is very cool, I wish them the best of luck.

Concluding Remarks
At the end of the sessions, there was free food and adult beverages for all. I ran one of the two demo stations there. In hindsight, I think that expecting people to really have any more brainpower to devote to Eclipse after five continuous hours of sessions was a bit much. Still I really want to thank those that came over and gave me the chance to show off Groovy Monkey and discuss my plans for Eclipse Monkey.

Once again thanks to Google and to the folks at the Eclipse foundation for showing up. Thanks to all the participants who attended. The event was, for the most part, packed, not the smaller affairs that Eclipse Democamps that I have attended in the past have been.