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What's New in Eclipse?
Eclipse Gained The Backing Of The Key Java Vendors Including BEA, Borland, IBM, SAP, and Sybase
By: Ed Burnette
Jul. 19, 2005 11:45 AM
One of the most frequently asked questions about RCP-based applications is if you can deploy them with Java Web Start. The answer in Eclipse 3.1 is yes. New feature export wizards make this easy; they'll even sign the JARs for you and create a template .jnlp file. In support of Java Web Start, most Eclipse plug-ins have been converted to regular old Java .jar files. Information about extension points, plug-in dependencies, and so on go in manifest files inside the JARs.
In Eclipse 3.1, client developers can take advantage of a slew of UI improvements to make their applications even more functional and better looking than before. For example, SWT includes two new widgets: a Spinner widget for numeric data entry and a Link widget that allows hyperlinks to be included in text labels. A number of other widgets were enhanced.
The Tree widget now supports columns, deprecating the older TableTree widget. This allows a native implementation and helps resolve some of the more subtle problems with the TableTree, including the inability to add an image in the first column. Also the Table widget got a much requested feature: the ability to drag and drop columns to reorder them within the table. Virtual tables with deferred loading are also supported.
Another area that was improved is SWT graphics. Eclipse 3.1 supports alpha-blending, anti-aliasing, paths for geometric shapes and lines, and transformations (see Figure 5). On Windows, using these GC new features takes advantage of the Microsoft GDI+ library (which is included with Windows XP and 2003 but available as a separate download on older systems). On GTK and Motif, the new graphics are implemented with the Cairo graphics library.
The Community Strikes Back
The Eclipse community continues to grow through the addition of new projects. As of this writing, over a dozen new project proposals are pending or have been recently approved. Many of these are "Technology" projects, which are often created by groups of users that band together to fulfill a need. For example, the Mylar project was created at the University of British Columbia to address the problem with information overload by filtering out uninteresting classes and other artifacts while you're programming.
Following on the heels of the 3.1 release of the Eclipse Platform, a number of other Eclipse projects is expected to be released. One of the biggest, the Web Tools Platform project, or WTP for short, is scheduled to release a new version in late July. WTP was initially based on contributions from IBM and ObjectWeb, but many companies and individuals in the community are working on it now, including recent joiner BEA.
JST extends WST for J2EE applications and servers. Included is a range of tools simplifying development with J2EE APIs including JSP, JCA, JDBC, JTA, JMS, JMX, JNDI, and Web services. It builds on WST to support J2EE servlet engines and EJB containers, including Apache Tomcat, Apache Geronimo, and ObjectWeb Jonas. Server vendors are encouraged to develop adapters for their servers.
Another widely anticipated project is the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project. BIRT 1.1 is targeted for July, and it will be based on Eclipse 3.1. Currently BIRT includes three components:
The Eclipse Test and Performance Tools Platform Project (TPTP), formerly known as Hyades, will launch the 4.0 release in July as well. TPTP delivers components in four areas:
Visual Editor Project (VE) The Visual Editor Project will be releasing version 1.1 approximately two weeks after Eclipse 3.1. Highlights include:
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