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Overview

Producing a commercial-quality plug-in means going above and beyond the minimal requirements needed to integrate with Eclipse. It means attending to all those details that contribute to the “fit and polish” of a commercial offering. This comprehensive guide covers the entire process of plug-in development, including all the extra steps needed to achieve the highest quality results.

Building on two internationally best-selling previous editions, Eclipse Plug-ins, Third Edition, has been fully revised to reflect the powerful new capabilities of Eclipse 3.4. Leading Eclipse experts Eric Clayberg and Dan Rubel present detailed, practical coverage of every aspect of plug-in development, as well as specific, proven solutions for the challenges developers are most likely to encounter.

All code examples, relevant API listings, diagrams, and screen captures have been thoroughly updated to reflect both the Eclipse 3.4 API and the latest Java syntax. In addition, Clayberg and Rubel have completely revamped their popular Favorites View case study, reworking much of its content and recreating its code from scratch. The authors carefully cover new functionality added to existing Eclipse features, such as views and editors, and fully explain brand-new features such as Commands, GEF, and PDE Build.

This extensively revised edition

  • Thoroughly covers Eclipse’s new preferences
  • Illuminates the powerful new Eclipse Command Framework, which replaces Eclipse’s older Action Framework
  • Presents extensive new discussions of using commands with views and editors
  • Introduces Mylyn, the new task-focused interface that reduces information overload and simplifies multi-tasking
  • Contains an all-new chapter on using the Graphical Editing Framework (GEF) to build dynamic, interactive graphical user interface elements
  • Walks you step by step through the entire PDE Build process
  • Shows how to create update sites with p2, which replaces Eclipse’s old Update Manager
This book is designed for every experienced developer interested in extending the Eclipse platform, the Rational Software Development Platform, or any other platform that supports Eclipse plug-ins.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Some folks use Eclipse as a great Java development IDE and leave it at that. But Eclipse is far more: It’s a platform that can be extended in virtually any direction, supporting an extraordinary range of new products. Of course, if you want to build extensions someone will actually pay for, you’d better pay attention to the details. Not just integration: user interfaces, change tracking, feature planning, product build, packaging, help systems, internationalization, maybe even branding. If you want to master everything that’s involved in building commercial-grade Eclipse extensions, Eric Clayberg and Dan Rubel are here to help.

You can start from scratch with this book. The authors carefully introduce the Eclipse development environment, architecture, and the structure of plug-ins and extension points. You’ll walk step-by-step through building your first plug-in: one that you’ll use throughout the book for experimentation. There’s also a detailed introduction to user interface construction with SWT and JFace. But, unlike some books, the advanced stuff's here, too. Clayberg and Rubel make all of it easier with plenty of sample code, diagrams, screen shots, and so forth.

Compatibility certifications simplify life for anyone who wants to market products based on a new platform. There’s no formal Eclipse certification. But there is “Ready for WebSphere Studio,” which promises that your software will integrate with IBM’s Eclipse-based web development tools. This book’s authors wrote the very first commercial add-on for WebSphere Studio Application Developer v4.0. When they discuss certification -- or anything else related to Eclipse, for that matter -- they speak with singular authority. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2003 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.

From the Publisher
“I’m often asked, ‘What are the best books about Eclipse?’ Number one on my list, every time, is Eclipse: Building Commercial-Quality Plug-ins. I find it to be the clearest and most relevant book about Eclipse for the real-world software developer. Other Eclipse books focus on the internal Eclipse architecture or on repeating the Eclipse documentation, whereas this book is laser focused on the issues and concepts that matter when you’re trying to build a product.”

— Bjorn Freeman-Benson

Director, Open Source Process, Eclipse Foundation

“As the title suggests, this massive tome is intended as a guide to best practices for writing Eclipse plug-ins. I think in that respect it succeeds handily. Before you even think about distributing a plug-in you’ve written, read this book.”

— Ernest Friedman-Hill

Sheriff, JavaRanch.com

“If you’re looking for just one Eclipse plug-in development book that will be your guide, this is the one. While there are other books available on Eclipse, few dive as deep as

Eclipse: Building Commercial-Quality Plug-ins.”

— Simon Archer

Eclipse: Building Commercial-Quality Plug-ins was an invaluable training aid for all of our team members. In fact, training our team without the use of this book as a base would have been virtually impossible. It is now required reading for all our developers and helped us deliver a brand-new, very complex product on time and on budget thanks to the great job this book does of explaining the process of building plug-ins for Eclipse.”

— Bruce Gruenbaum


“This is easily one of the most useful books I own. If you are new to developing Eclipse plug-ins, it is a ‘must-have’ that will save you lots of time and effort. You will find lots of good advice in here, especially things that will help add a whole layer of professionalism and completeness to any plug-in. The book is very focused, well-structured, thorough, clearly written, and doesn’t contain a single page of ‘waffly page filler.’ The diagrams explaining the relationships between the different components and manifest sections are excellent and aid in understanding how everything fits together. This book goes well beyond Actions, Views, and Editors, and I think everyone will benefit from the authors’ experience. I certainly have.”

— Tony Saveski

“The authors of this seminal book have decades of proven experience with the most productive and robust software engineering technologies ever developed. Their experiences have now been well applied to the use of Eclipse for more effective Java development. A must-have for any serious software engineering professional!”

— Ed Klimas

“Just wanted to also let you know this is an excellent book! Thanks for putting forth the effort to create a book that is easy to read and technical at the same time!”

— Brooke Hedrick

“The key to developing great plug-ins for Eclipse is understanding where and how to extend the IDE, and that’s what this book gives you. It is a must for serious plug-in developers, especially those building commercial applications. I wouldn’t be without it.”

— Brian Wilkerson

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321553461
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 1/9/2009
  • Series: Eclipse Series
  • Edition description: Third
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 928
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Clayberg is Senior VP for Product Development for Instantiations, Inc., an Advanced IBM Business Partner that serves on the Eclipse Foundation and contributes extensively to the Eclipse initiative. He has more than seventeen years of commercial software development experience, including twelve years with Java and nine with Eclipse. He is primary architect and product manager for many award-winning Java and Smalltalk products, including WindowBuilder Pro, CodePro, and VA Assist. He has a B.S. from MIT, an MBA from Harvard, and has cofounded two successful software companies—ObjectShare and Instantiations.

Dan Rubel, CTO for Instantiations, Inc., is an entrepreneur and an expert in the design and application of object-oriented technologies with more than fifteen years of commercial software development experience, including thirteen years of experience with Java and nine years with Eclipse. He is the primary architect and product manager for several successful products, including RCP Developer, WindowTester, jFactor, and jKit. He has a B.S. from Bucknell and is a cofounder of Instantiations.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Skip McGaughey xxxiii
Foreword by Simon Archer xxxv
Preface xxxvii


Chapter 1: Using Eclipse Tools 1
1.1 Getting Started 1
1.2 The Eclipse Workbench 3
1.3 Setting Up Your Environment 14
1.4 Creating a Project 19
1.5 Navigating 26
1.6 Searching 28
1.7 Writing Code 35
1.8 Team Development Using CVS 49
1.9 Running Applications 55
1.10 Introduction to Debugging 59
1.11 Introduction to Testing 63
1.12 Introduction to Mylyn 65
1.13 Summary 69

Chapter 2: A Simple Plug-in Example 71
2.1 The Favorites Plug-in 71
2.2 Creating a Plug-in Project 72
2.3 Reviewing the Generated Code 77
2.4 Building a Product 86
2.5 Installing and Running the Product 92
2.6 Debugging the Product 94
2.7 PDE Views 96
2.8 Writing Plug-in Tests 99
2.9 Book Samples 105
2.10 Summary 106

Chapter 3: Eclipse Infrastructure 107
3.1 Structural Overview 107
3.2 Plug-in Directory or JAR file 110
3.3 Plug-in Manifest 113
3.4 Activator or Plug-in Class 120
3.5 Plug-in Model 126
3.6 Logging 128
3.7 Eclipse Plug-ins 132
3.8 Summary 133

Chapter 4: The Standard Widget Toolkit 135
4.1 SWT History and Goals 135
4.2 SWT Widgets 138
4.3 Layout Management 178
4.4 Resource Management 188
4.5 GUI Builders 190
4.6 Summary 191

Chapter 5: JFace Viewers 193
5.1 List-Oriented Viewers 193
5.2 Text Viewers 211
5.3 Summary 214

Chapter 6: Commands and Actions 215
6.1 Commands 216
6.2 Menu and Toolbar Contributions 220
6.3 Handlers 236
6.4 Key Bindings 238
6.5 IAction versus IActionDelegate 240
6.6 Workbench Window Actions 242
6.7 Object Actions 257
6.8 View Actions 270
6.9 Editor Actions 277
6.10 Actions and Key Bindings 284
6.11 RFRS Considerations 286
6.12 Summary 287

Chapter 7: Views 289
7.1 View Declaration 291
7.2 View Part 293
7.3 View Commands 313
7.4 Linking the View 336
7.5 Saving View State 340
7.6 Testing 345
7.7 Image Caching 346
7.8 Auto-sizing Table Columns 348
7.9 RFRS Considerations 348
7.10 Summary 352

Chapter 8: Editors 353
8.1 Editor Declaration 354
8.2 Editor Part 358
8.3 Editing 372
8.4 Editor Lifecycle 378
8.5 Editor Commands 381
8.6 Linking the Editor 400
8.7 RFRS Considerations 401
8.8 Summary 405

Chapter 9: Resource Change Tracking 407
9.1 IResourceChangeListener 407
9.2 Processing Change Events 411
9.3 Batching Change Events 414
9.4 Progress Monitor 415
9.5 Delayed Changed Events 420
9.6 Summary 421

Chapter 10: Perspectives 423
10.1 Creating a Perspective 423
10.2 Enhancing an Existing Perspective 430
10.3 RFRS Considerations 438
10.4 Summary 439

Ch apter 11: Dialogs and Wizards 441
11.1 Dialogs 441
11.2 Wizards 464
11.3 RFRS Considerations 482
11.4 Summary 484

Chapter 12: Preference Pages 485
12.1 Creating a Preference Page 485
12.2 Preference Page APIs 487
12.3 Preference APIs 501
12.4 RFRS Considerations 508
12.5 Summary 509

Chapter 13: Properties 511
13.1 Creating Properties 511
13.2 Displaying Properties in the Properties Dialog 515
13.3 Displaying Properties in the Properties View 524
13.4 Property Pages Reused as Preference Pages 529
13.5 RFRS Considerations 530
13.6 Summary 531

Chapter 14: Builders, Markers, and Natures 533
14.1 Builders 535
14.2 Markers 548
14.3 Natures 561
14.4 RFRS Considerations 572
14.5 Summary 575

Chapter 15: Implementing Help 577
15.1 Using Help 577
15.2 Implementing Help 580
15.3 Context-Sensitive Help (F1) 591
15.4 Accessing Help Programmatically 599
15.5 Cheat Sheets 601
15.6 RFRS Considerations 611
15.7 Summary 614

Chapter 16: Internationalization 617
16.1 Externalizing the Plug-in Manifest 618
16.2 Externalizing Plug-in Strings 620
16.3 Using Fragments 629
16.4 Manual Testing 636
16.5 Summary 636

Chapter 17: Creating New Extension Points 637
17.1 The Extension Point Mechanism 637
17.2 Defining an Extension Point 639
17.3 Code Behind an Extension Point 649
17.4 Extension Point Documentation 656
17.5 Using the Extension Point 657
17.6 RFRS Considerations 659
17.7 Summary 660

Chapter 18: Features, Branding, and Updates 661
18.1 Feature Projects 662
18.2 Branding 673
18.3 Update Sites 679
18.4 RFRS Considerations 689
18.5 Summary 691

Chapter 19: Building a Product 693
19.1 A Brief Introduction to Ant 693
19.2 Building with PDE 711
19.3 Debugging the PDE Build process 726
19.4 Summary 729

Chapter 20: GEF: Graphical Editing Framework 731
20.1 GEF Architecture 731
20.2 GEF Model 732
20.3 GEF Controller 733
20.4 GEF Figures 743
20.5 GEF in an Eclipse View 754
20.6 GEF in an Eclipse Editor 758
20.7 Palette 775
20.8 Summary 778

Chapter 21: Advanced Topics 779
21.1 Advanced Search—Reference Projects 780
21.2 Accessing Internal Code 781
21.3 Adapters 784
21.4 Opening a Browser or Creating an Email 788
21.5 Types Specified in an Extension Point 793
21.6 Modifying Eclipse to Find Part Identifiers 797
21.7 Label Decorators 802
21.8 Background Tasks—Jobs API 808
21.9 Plug-in ClassLoaders 811
21.10 Early Startup 816
21.11 Rich Client Platform 817
21.12 Conclusion 818

Appendix A: Eclipse Plug-ins and Resources 819
A.1 Plug-ins 819

Appendix B: Ready for Rational Software 831

Index 833

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Preface

PrefacePreface

When we were first exposed to Eclipse back in late 1999, we were struck by the magnitude of the problem IBM was trying to solve. IBM wanted to unify all its development environments on a single code base. At the time, the company was using a mix of technology composed of a hodgepodge of C/C++, Java, and Smalltalk.Preface

Many of IBM’s most important tools, including the award-winning Visual-Age for Java IDE, were actually written in Smalltalk—a wonderful language for building sophisticated tools, but one that was rapidly losing market share to languages like Java. While IBM had one of the world’s largest collections of Smalltalk developers, there wasn’t a great deal of industry support for it outside of IBM, and there were very few independent software vendors (ISVs) qualified to create Smalltalk-based add-ons.

Meanwhile, Java was winning the hearts and minds of developers world-wide with its promise of easy portability across a wide range of platforms, while providing the rich application programming interface (API) needed to build the latest generation of Web-based business applications. More important, Java was an object-oriented (OO) language, which meant that IBM could leverage the large body of highly skilled object-oriented developers it had built up over the years of creating Smalltalk-based tools. In fact, IBM took its premiere Object Technology International (OTI) group, which had been responsible for creating IBM’s VisualAge Smalltalk and VisualAge Java environments (VisualAge Smalltalk was the first of the VisualAge brand family and VisualAge Java was built using it), and tasked the group with creating ahighly extensible integrated development environment (IDE) construction set based in Java. Eclipse was the happy result.

OTI was able to apply its highly evolved OO skills to produce an IDE unmatched in power, flexibility, and extensibility. The group was able to replicate most of the features that had made Smalltalk-based IDEs so popular the decade before, while simultaneously pushing the state of the art in IDE development ahead by an order of magnitude.

The Java world had never seen anything as powerful or as compelling as Eclipse, and it now stands, with Microsoft’s .NET, as one of the world’s premier development environments. That alone makes Eclipse a perfect platform for developers wishing to get their tools out to as wide an audience as possible. The fact that Eclipse is completely free and open source is icing on the cake. An open, extensible IDE base that is available for free to anyone with a computer is a powerful motivator to the prospective tool developer.

It certainly was to us. At Instantiations and earlier at ObjectShare, we had spent the better part of a decade as entrepreneurs focused on building add-on tools for various IDEs. We had started with building add-ons for Digitalk’s Smalltalk/V, migrated to developing tools for IBM’s VisualAge Smalltalk, and eventually ended up creating tools for IBM’s VisualAge Java (including our award-winning VA Assist product and our jFactor product, one of the world’s first Java refactoring tools). Every one of these environments provided a means to extend the IDE, but they were generally not well-documented and certainly not standardized in any way. Small market shares (relative to tools such as VisualBasic) and an eclectic user base also afflicted these environments and, by extension, us.

As an Advanced IBM Business Partner, we were fortunate to have built a long and trusted relationship with the folks at IBM responsible for the creation of Eclipse. That relationship meant that we were in a unique position to be briefed on the technology and to start using it on a daily basis nearly a year and half before the rest of the world even heard about it. When IBM finally announced Eclipse to the world in mid-2001, our team at Instantiations had built some of the first demo applications IBM had to show. Later that year when IBM released its first Eclipse-based commercial tool, WebSphere Studio Application Developer v4.0 (v4.0 so that it synchronized with its then current VisualAge for Java v4.0), our CodePro product became the very first commercial add-on available for it (and for Eclipse in general) on the same day.

Currently, the CodePro product adds hundreds of enhancements to Eclipse and any Eclipse-based IDE. Developing CodePro over the last several years has provided us with an opportunity to learn the details of Eclipse development at a level matched by very few others (with the obvious exception of the IBM and OTI developers, who eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff on a daily basis). CodePro has also served as a testbed for many of the ideas and techniques presented in this book, providing us with a unique perspective from which to write.

Goals of the Book

This book, originally titled Eclipse: Building Commercial-Quality Plug-ins, provides an in-depth description of the process involved in building commercial-quality extensions for the Eclipse and the IBM Software Development Platform (SDP)—IBM’s commercial version of Eclipse—development environments. To us, “commercial-quality” is synonymous with “commercial-grade” or “high-quality.” Producing a commercial-quality plug-in means going above and beyond the minimal requirements needed to integrate with Eclipse. It means attending to all those details that contribute to the “fit and polish” of a commercial offering.

In the world of Eclipse plug-ins, very few people take the time to really go the extra mile, and most plug-ins fall into the open source, amateur category. For folks interested in producing high-quality plug-ins (which would certainly be the case for any software company wanting to develop Eclipse-based products), there are many details to consider. Our book is meant to encompass the entire process of plug-in development, including all the extra things that need to be done to achieve high-quality results. This book has several complementary goals:


  • Provide a quick introduction to using Eclipse for new users
  • Provide a reference for experienced Eclipse users wishing to expand their knowledge and improve the quality of their Eclipse-based products
  • Provide a detailed tutorial on creating sophisticated Eclipse plug-ins suitable for new and experienced users

The first three chapters introduce the Eclipse development environment and outline the process of building a simple plug-in. The intention of these chapters is to help developers new to Eclipse quickly pull together a plug-in they can use to experiment with.

The first chapter, in particular, introduces the reader to the minimum set of Eclipse tools that he or she will need to build plug-ins. It is a fairly quick overview of the Eclipse IDE and relevant tools (one could write an entire book on that topic alone), and we would expect expert Eclipse users to skip that chapter entirely.

The second chapter introduces the example that we will use throughout most of the book and provides a very quick introduction to building a working plug-in from start to finish. The third chapter presents a high-level overview of the Eclipse architecture and the structure of plug-ins and extension points.

The fourth and fifth chapters cover the Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) and JFace, which are the building blocks for all Eclipse user interfaces (UIs). These chapters can act as a stand-alone reference; they are intended to provide just enough detail to get you going. Both of these topics are rich enough to warrant entire books and several are currently available.

The subsequent chapters, comprising the bulk of this book, focus on describing each of the various aspects of plug-in development and providing the reader with in-depth knowledge of how to solve the various challenges involved. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the problem, and includes an overview, a detailed description, a discussion of challenges and solutions, diagrams, screenshots, cookbook-style code examples, relevant API listings, and a summary.

We have structured the book so that the most important material required for every plug-in project appears in the first half of it. Some of the packaging- and building-oriented material is placed at the end (for example, features and product builds). This organizational scheme left several topics that, while not critical to every plug-in, were important to the creation of commercial-quality plug-ins. These topics have been placed in the second half of the book in an order based on the importance of each and how it related to earlier material. Internationalization, for example, is one of those topics. It isn’t critical, and it isn’t even all that complicated when you get right down to it. It is, however, important to the book’s premise, so we felt it was a topic we needed to include. Since we aren’t assuming that the reader is an Eclipse expert (or even a plug-in developer), we have tried to take the reader through each of the important steps in as much detail as possible. While it is true that this is somewhat introductory, it is also an area that most plug-in developers totally ignore and have little or no experience with.

Sometimes a developer needs a quick solution, while at other times that same developer needs to gain in-depth knowledge about a particular aspect of development. The intent is to provide several different ways for the reader to absorb and use the information so that both needs can be addressed. Relevant APIs are included in several of the chapters so that the book can be used as a stand-alone reference during development without requiring the reader to look up those APIs in the IDE. Most API descriptions are copied or paraphrased from the Eclipse platform Javadoc.

As the originators of Eclipse and a major consumer of Eclipse-based technology, IBM is justifiably concerned that new plug-ins meet the same high-quality standards that IBM adheres to. To that end, IBM has established a rigorous Ready for Rational Software (RFRS) certification program meant to ensure the availability of high-quality add-ons to Eclipse and the IBM Software Development Platform. RFRS certification should be one of the ultimate goals for anyone wishing to build and market Eclipse plug-ins. Every chapter covers any relevant RFRS certification criteria and strategies.

The examples provided as part of the chapters describe building various aspects of a concrete Eclipse plug-in that you will see evolve over the course of the book. When used as a reference rather than read cover-to-cover, you will typically start to look in one chapter for issues that are covered in another. To facilitate this type of searching, every chapter contains numerous cross-references to related material that appears in other chapters.

Intended Audience

The audience for this book includes Java tool developers wishing to build products that integrate with Eclipse and other Eclipse-based products, relatively advanced Eclipse users wishing to customize their environments, or anyone who is curious about what makes Eclipse tick. You do not need to be an expert Eclipse user to make use of this book because we introduce most of what you need to know to use Eclipse in Chapter 1, Using Eclipse Tools. While we don’t assume any preexisting Eclipse knowledge, we do anticipate that the reader is a fairly seasoned developer with a good grasp of Java and at least a cursory knowledge of extensible markup language (XML).

Conventions Used in This Book

The following formatting conventions are used throughout the book.

  • Bold—the names of UI elements such as menus, button tabs, and window titles
  • Italic—emphasize new terms and Web site addresses
  • Courier—code examples, references to class and method names, and filenames
  • Courier Bold—emphasize code fragments
  • “Quoted text”—quotation marks surrounding text indicates words to be entered by the user
What’s New in the Third Edition

In this edition, we use the same Favorites view example as in the first and second editions, but have reworked much of the content and recreated the code from scratch. Some Eclipse concepts, such as views and editors, are similar but with additional functionality and capabilities; other areas, such as commands, GEF and PDE Build have been added. The following are some of the major changes in this third edition:

Eclipse Command Framework

The Eclipse command framework replaces the older Action framework. Throughout the book, use of the older Action framework has been replaced with new content describing how to accomplish the same thing with the new command framework. This is most obvious in Chapter 6 where the first half of the chapter is entirely devoted to the command framework. Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 also have lots of new material describing use of commands with views and editors.

Eclipse 3.4 and Java 5

All of the screen shots, text and code examples throughout the book have been updated to use the latest Eclipse 3.4 API and Java 5 syntax. Chapter 1 has been overhauled to include descriptions of new capabilities in Eclipse 3.4 including a new overview of using Mylyn and disc Chapter 2 cover cool PDE and SWT tools available in Eclipse 3.4.

New GEF Chapter

GEF, the Graphical Editing Framework from Eclipse.org, provides a toolkit for building dynamic interactive graphical user interface elements. Chapter 20 takes you step by step through the process of building a GEF-based view for graphically presenting the relationships between the favorites items and their underlying resources. We then go further, building a GEF-based editor with the ability to add, move, resize, and delete the graphical elements representing those favorites items.

Put PDE Build through its paces

Over the past several years, the PDE build process has been steadily maturing. The proprietary Ant scripts in Chapter 19 of earlier versions of our book have been completely replaced with step-by-step instructions for getting an Eclipse PDE Build process up and running to automate assembly of your product for distribution.

New “p2” update site creation description

“p2” debuts in Eclipse 3.4, replacing the older Update Manager. We take you through the process of using update sites and then building your own in Section 18.3, Update Sites.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Introduction

Preface

When we were first exposed to Eclipse back in late 1999, we were struck by the magnitude of the problem IBM was trying to solve. IBM wanted to unify all of its development environments on a single code base. At the time, the company was using a mix of technology composed of a hodgepodge of C/C++, Java, and Smalltalk.

Many of IBM's most important tools, including the award-winning Visual-Age for Java IDE, were actually written in Smalltalk—a wonderful language for building sophisticated tools, but one that was rapidly losing market share to languages like Java. While IBM had one of the world's largest collections of Smalltalk developers, there wasn't a great deal of industry support for it outside of IBM, and there were very few independent software vendors (ISVs) qualified to create Smalltalk-based add-ons.

Meanwhile, Java was winning the hearts and minds of developers worldwide with its promise of easy portability across a wide range of platforms, while providing the rich application programming interface (API) needed to build the latest generation of Web-based business applications. More importantly, Java was an object-oriented (OO) language, which meant that IBM could leverage the large body of highly skilled object-oriented developers it had built up over the years of creating Smalltalk-based tools. In fact, IBM took its premiere Object Technology International (OTI) group, which had been responsible for creating IBM's VisualAge Smalltalk and VisualAge Java environments (VisualAge Smalltalk was the first of the VisualAge brand family and VisualAge Java was built using it), and tasked it with creating a highly extensibleintegrated development environment (IDE) construction set based in Java. Eclipse was the happy result.

OTI was able to apply its highly evolved OO skills to produce an IDE unmatched in power, flexibility, and extensibility. The group was able to replicate most of the features that had made Smalltalk-based IDEs so popular the decade before, while simultaneously pushing the state-of-the-art in IDE development ahead by an order of magnitude.

The Java world had never seen anything as powerful or as compelling as Eclipse, and it now stands, with Microsoft's .NET, as one of the world's premier development environments. That alone makes Eclipse a perfect platform for developers wishing to get their tools out to as wide an audience as possible. The fact that Eclipse is completely free and open source is icing on the cake. An open, extensible IDE base that is available for free to anyone with a computer is a powerful motivator to the prospective tool developer.

It certainly was to us. At Instantiations and earlier at ObjectShare, we had spent the better part of a decade as entrepreneurs focused on building add-on tools for various IDEs. We had started with building add-ons to Digitalk's Smalltalk/V, migrated to developing tools for IBM's VisualAge Smalltalk, and eventually ended up creating tools for IBM's VisualAge Java (including our award-winning VA Assist product and our jFactor product, one of the world's first Java refactoring tools). Every one of these environments provided a means to extend the IDE, but they were generally not well-documented and certainly not standardized in any way. Small market shares (relative to tools such as VisualBasic) and an eclectic user base also afflicted these environments and, by extension, us.

As an Advanced IBM Business Partner, we were fortunate to have built a long and trusted relationship with the folks at IBM responsible for the creation of Eclipse. That relationship meant that we were in a unique position to be briefed on the technology and start using it on a daily basis nearly a year and half before the rest of the world even heard about it. When IBM finally announced Eclipse to the world in mid-2001, our team at Instantiations had built some of the first demo applications IBM had to show. Later that year when IBM released its first Eclipse-based commercial tool, WebSphere Studio Application Developer v4.0 (v4.0 so that it synchronized with its then current VisualAge for Java v4.0), our CodePro Studio product became the very first commercial add-on available for it (and for Eclipse in general) on the same day.

Our CodePro product currently adds hundreds of enhancements to Eclipse and any Eclipse-based IDE. Developing CodePro over the last several years has provided us with an opportunity to learn the details of Eclipse development at a level matched by very few others (with the obvious exception of the developers at IBM and OTI, who eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff on a daily basis). CodePro has also served as a testbed for many of the ideas and techniques presented in this book, providing us with a unique perspective from which to write.

Goals of the Book

This book provides an in-depth description of the process involved in building commercial-quality extensions for the Eclipse and WebSphere Studio Workbench (IBM's commercial version of Eclipse) development environments. To us, "commercial-quality" is synonymous with "commercial-grade" or "high– quality." Producing a "commercial-quality" plug-in means going above and beyond the minimal requirements needed to integrate with Eclipse. It means attending to all of those details contributing to the "fit and polish" of a commercial offering.

In the world of Eclipse plug-ins, very few people take the time to really go the extra mile, and most plug-ins fall into the open source, amateur category. For folks interested in producing high-quality plug-ins (which would certainly be the case for any software company wanting to develop Eclipse-based products), there are many additional steps to follow. Our book is meant to encompass the entire process of plug-in development, including all the extra things that need to be done to achieve high-quality results.

This book has several complementary goals:

  • Provide a quick introduction to using Eclipse for new users

  • Provide a reference for experienced Eclipse users wishing to expand their knowledge and improve the quality of their Eclipse-based products

  • Provide a detailed tutorial on creating sophisticated Eclipse plug-ins suitable for new and experienced users alike

The first three chapters introduce the Eclipse development environment and outline the process of building a simple plug-in. The intention of these chapters is to help developers new to Eclipse quickly pull together a plug-in they can use to experiment with.

The first chapter, in particular, introduces the reader to the minimum set of Eclipse tools that he or she will need to build plug-ins. It is a fairly quick overview of the Eclipse IDE and relevant tools (one could write an entire book on that topic alone), and we would expect expert Eclipse users to skip that chapter entirely.

The second chapter introduces the example that we will use throughout most of the book and provides a very quick introduction to building a working plug-in from start to finish. The third chapter presents a high-level overview of the Eclipse architecture and the structure of plug-ins and extension points.

The fourth and fifth chapters of the book cover the Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) and JFace, which are the building blocks for all Eclipse user interfaces (UIs). These chapters can act as a standalone reference; they are intended to provide just enough detail to get you going. Both of these topics are rich enough to warrant entire books and many no doubt are in the works.

The subsequent chapters, comprising the bulk of the book, are focused on describing each of the various aspects of plug-in development and providing the reader with in-depth knowledge of how to solve the various challenges involved. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the problem, and include an overview, a detailed description, a discussion of challenges and solutions, diagrams, screen shots, cookbook-style code examples, relevant API listings, and a summary.

We have structured the book so that the most important material required for every plug-in project appears in the first half of the book. Some of the packaging- and building-oriented material is placed at the end (like features and product build). This organizational scheme left several topics that, while not critical to every plug-in, were important to the creation of "commercialquality" plug-ins. These topics were then placed in the second half of the book in an order based on the importance of the topic and how it related to earlier material. Internationalization, for example, is one of those topics. It isn't critical, and it isn't even all that complicated when you get right down to it. It is important to the premise of this book, so we felt it was a topic we needed to include. Since we aren't assuming that the reader is an Eclipse expert (or even a plug-in developer), we tried to take the reader through each of the important steps in as much detail as possible. While it is true that this is somewhat introductory, it is also an area that most plug-in developers totally ignore and have little or no experience with.

Sometimes a developer needs a quick solution, while at other times that same developer needs to gain in-depth knowledge on a particular aspect of development. The intent is to provide several different ways for the reader to absorb and use the information so that both needs can be addressed. Relevant APIs are included in several of the chapters so that the book may be used as a standalone reference during development without requiring the reader to look up those APIs in the IDE. Most API descriptions are copied or paraphrased from the Eclipse platform Javadoc.

As the originators of Eclipse and a major consumer of Eclipse-based technology, IBM is justifiably concerned that new plug-ins meet the same high-quality standards that IBM adheres to. To that end, IBM has established a rigorous "Ready for WebSphere Studio" (RFWS) certification program meant to insure the availability of high-quality add-ons to Eclipse and WebSphere Studio Workbench (WSW). RFWS certification should be one of the ultimate goals for anyone wishing to build and market Eclipse plug-ins. In each chapter, we will cover any relevant RFWS certification criteria and strategies.

The examples provided as part of each chapter describe building various aspects of a concrete Eclipse plug-in that you will see evolve over the course of the book. When this book is used as a reference rather than read cover-to-cover, you will typically start to look in one chapter for issues that are covered in another. To facilitate this type of searching, each chapter will contain numerous forward and backward references to related material that appears in other chapters.Intended Audience

The audience for this book includes Java tool developers wishing to build products that integrate with Eclipse and other Eclipse-based products, relatively advanced Eclipse users wishing to customize their environments, or anyone who is curious about what makes Eclipse tick. You do not need to be an expert Eclipse user to make use of this book, as we introduce most of what you need to know to use Eclipse in Chapter 1, "Using Eclipse Tools." While we don't assume any preexisting Eclipse knowledge, we do expect the reader to be a fairly seasoned developer with a good grasp of Java and at least a cursory knowledge of extensible markup language (XML).

Conventions Used in this Book

The following formatting conventions are used throughout the book:

Bold—Used for the names of UI elements such as menus, buttons, field labels, tabs, and window titles.

Italic—Used for emphasizing new terms.

Courier—Used for code examples, references to class and method names, and filenames.

Courier Bold—Used to emphasize code elements.

"Quoted text"—Used for text to be entered by the user.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all of those who had a hand in putting this book together or who gave us their support and encouragement through the many months it took to create.

To our comrades at Instantiations, who gave us the time and encouragement to work on the book: Brent Caldwell, Paul Curtis, Mark Johnson, Warren Martin, Steve Messick, Tim O'Conner, Chuck Shawan, Julie Taylor, Mike Taylor, and Brian Wilkerson.

To our agent, Laura Lewin, and the staff at Studio B, who encouraged us from day one and worked tirelessly on our behalf.

To our editor, John Neidhart, our production editor, Kathleen Caren, our copy editor, Camie Goffi, and the staff at Pearson, for their encouragement and tremendous efforts in preparing this book for production.

To Simon Archer, who contributed an unparalleled number of changes and suggestions and helped us improve the book in almost every dimension.

To our technical reviewers, who helped us enhance the book in many ways: Joe Bowbeer, Brian Wilkerson, Joe Winchester, David Whiteman, Boris Pruesmann, and Raphael Enns.

To the series editors, Erich Gamma, Lee Nackman and John Weigand, for their thoughtful comments and for their on-going efforts to make Eclipse the best development environment in the world.

We would also like to thank our wives, Karen and Kathy, for their endless patience, and our children, Beth, Lauren, Lee, and David, for their endless inspiration.

How To Contact Us

While we have made every effort to make sure that the material in this book is timely and accurate, Eclipse is a rapidly moving target and it is quite possible that you may encounter differences between what we present in this book and what you experience using Eclipse. The Eclipse UI has evolved considerably over the years, and the latest 3.0 release is no exception. While we have targeted this book at Eclipse 3.0 and used it for all of our examples, this book was completed before Eclipse 3.0 was finally locked down. That means that you may encounter various views, dialogs, and wizards that are subtly different from the screen shots in the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    This is the ravenclaw common room

    This is the ravenclaw common room? Sweet! Im sad dumblydore is dead :(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2012

    Niome

    She watched impressed. She had no idea how to even hold a broom.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    Hermione Granger

    How come i cant find the Gryffindor common room can someone help me?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Um what ithiss

    Can any one explain this

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    Finally

    Whoo! I found the Ravenclaw common room. Bloody Peeves!
    Ivory

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2012

    Celia

    Im baaaaack!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2012

    Harry potter

    What house is every body in?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2012

    Katie

    Anyone need a date to the yule ball

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    SHADOW LOOKS AT HER

    WANTING OUT TO SAY HE IS SORRY

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    Kc

    I HAVENT LEFT! YOUR MY BEST FRIEND?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2012

    Criss

    Ok. She looks at the spot one more time then sighs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    Ravenclaw commen room

    Born to be smart!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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