CroftSoft / Library / Tutorials

Eclipse Setup

David Wallace Croft

2006 Mar 21 Tue

IDE Reluctance

For most of my career I programmed using a plain text editor such as DOS Edit, Windows Wordpad, and gedit. I found using an integrated development environment (IDE) cumbersome as there was always a learning curve and setup problems. There were a lot of different IDE's competing in the market and many of them were too expensive for me to use at home. I did not want to learn a new IDE when I switched jobs and I did not want to have a different development environment for my personal projects.

When the free Java IDE Eclipse came on the scene, I was reluctant to jump on the bandwagon as I thought it would be like all the rest. I also thought that IBM was being a bit rude toward Sun in their competition for the IDE market by giving it the name "Eclipse". Did anyone else catch that little jibe? I was also suspicious that Eclipse was an attempt by IBM to lock in Java software developers by binding them to their own GUI library instead of Swing.

I made the switch to Eclipse in late 2004 or 2005, however, as I saw one of my co-workers using it productively on a daily basis. It meets my requirements in that it is free and that it integrates seamlessly with CVS and Ant. I now find it indispensable. I have heard that a lot of other Java developers, maybe 75%+, now find it indispensable too.

One of the other reasons I resisted IDE's for such a long time is that they were always fighting me over my coding style, indenting with tab characters instead of spaces and inserting parentheses against my will. Plain text editors never gave me such trouble. When starting from a new setup, it takes me a while to disable the many helpful features of Eclipse such as code assist and to configure it for the coding style which I have evolved since I started programming back in 1980. For an example of what my coding style looks like, please see the Exemplar source code in the Advanced Java Game Programming Checklist or the CroftSoft Code Library.

Preferences Export

Since I have had to configure Eclipse a few times, I started writing things down as I did in this Eclipse Configuration checklist text file. Since then, however, I have decided it is just easier to export my preferences from a fully configured Eclipse setup and save it on my website. I can then simply import my Eclipse 3.1 Preferences file and I am ready to start programming immediately.

[2008-09-28: Eclipse 3.4 Preferences]

Compiler Restrictions

To learn Eclipse, I monitor the EclipseZone newsfeeds. I came across this tutorial on Project Compiler Restrictions. I raised all of my compiler restrictions that were set to a default of "Ignore" up to "Warning". After working like for this for a bit, I then dropped a few of them back down to "Ignore" and kept the rest at "Warning". A couple of the restrictions that I returned to "Ignore" are "Unqualified access to instance field" and "Usage of non-externalized strings". In Eclipse 3.1.1, the path to the compiler restrictions is as follows:

Window / Preferences / Java / Compiler / Errors/Warnings

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