Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Web Tools Platform And J2EE Development The Eclipse Way

Source: PBDJ


The Eclipse Open Source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) (see http://eclipse.org) is rapidly gaining popularity among Java developers primarily because of its excellent Java Development Tools (JDT) and its highly extensible plug-in architecture. Extensibility is, in fact, one of the defining characteristics of Eclipse. As the Eclipse home page says, "Eclipse is a kind of universal tool platform - an open extensible IDE for anything and nothing in particular." Although Eclipse is itself a Java application, all tools, including JDT, are on an equal footing in that they extend the Eclipse platform via well-defined extension points.

Of course, an infinitely extensible, but empty, platform might be interesting to tool vendors, but very boring for developers. Therefore, the initial version of Eclipse came with the JDT and the Plug-in Development Environment (PDE), both examples of how to extend the platform and very useful tools in their own right. JDT supported J2SE development while PDE supported Java-based Eclipse plug-in development. The combination of JDT and PDE fueled the creation of thousands of commercial and Open Source plug-ins for Eclipse, many of which supported J2EE development. For example, IBM released Eclipse-based commercial J2EE products, including WebSphere Studio Application Developer, and Rational Application Developer, while eteration, JBoss, Genuitec, Exadel, and Innoopract among others, released Open Source offerings. However, the profusion of J2EE plug-ins made it difficult for vendors to build on each other and for users to assemble an integrated suite of tools. For example, each J2EE toolset had its own way to support application servers.

As the popularity of Eclipse grew, it became apparent that the next logical step in its evolution was to add platform support for J2EE. This support would provide a common infrastructure for all J2EE plug-ins, with the goal of improving tool integration, reducing plug-in development expense, and simplifying the J2EE development experience for Eclipse users.

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