20090625

Eclipse Galileo Review

It's that time of the year again... here's my short review of Eclipse Galileo, which I've been using since M6.

While reading this review, keep my usage pattern in mind: programming for a large portal written in Java using frameworks such as Spring and Hibernate. Domain objects are mostly annotated, with some Hibernate XML thrown in. Spring configuration is still using XML for now.

Here are the things I like about this release so far:

  • HTML tags now auto-close. Same for XML tags; if you type "/" at the end of an open tag, the close tag is removed. Not a huge feature, but it's the kind of polish you find in IntelliJ that's starting to make its way into Eclipse.
  • Fully qualified class names are hyperlinked in XML files! This is a HUGE help for our team, as navigating those Spring XML files is always tedious.
  • Go to implementation. When you hover on a method call, you get a small pop-up that lets you choose between going to the declaration or the implementation. I'm still catching myself going to the declaration and pressing CTRL-T, but I'll get myself re-trained eventually. It would be nice if this feature had a shortcut key.
  • Switching editors with CTRL-PageUp and CTRL-PageDown. This used to switch tabs within the editor if present, to my great annoyance when I had XML files opened. I never use the "design" view for XML, so having to go CTRL-F6 or mouse around just because of a design view I never use was pretty annoying to me.
  • Rectangular/Column/Block selection mode. This used to be an add-in, but it's nice to have it built-in. This was one of the few things that had me boot up vi for text editing once in a while...
  • The compare editor is now a much more complete Java language editor, with completions and so on. Since I often have to resolve annoying conflicts by hand when merging old branches, this is a welcome addition.
  • Hyperlinks in JavaDoc pop-ups. Man, this is great! How often I've wasted time closing the JavaDoc popup and navigating to the parent class or to "see also" links by hand... Or even given up and gone to the web browser to browse the online HTML doc. In my mind, anything that saves me from switching to a different app just to navigate documentation is a Good Thing; it's one less hurdle to staying in the Zone.
  • The previous version of WTP had an annoying bug in JSPs: malformed tags would eventually lead to a stack overflow on complex pages, on every keystroke, until you closed and reopened the file. I haven't encountered this problem with Galileo.

But the major plus in my mind is the new plugin installation UI, known as p2. It's still not up to par with the Debian package manager front-ends, especially when explaining conflicts or missing dependencies. But it's much less confusing than previous efforts. I may actually use it to upgrade Eclipse next time around, something I never dared to do before.

What's to dislike? Well, nothing much. I still wish they'd implement proper themes for syntax highlighting, since the Export Preferences system exports all preferences. It's possible to edit the resulting file to strip non-highlighting related data, but it's a pain. Don't underestimate the power of syntax highlighting themes! Programmers like to share those, especially when the default theme is dark on light instead of the much less eyestrain-inducing light on dark.

Also, I wish installing Subversion integration wouldn't involve adding third-party connectors that sit in a different update site. I know it's related to licensing, but this is somewhat annoying. SVN support should be built-in, given that CVS is largely deprecated now.

Oh, and this isn't part of the Eclipse Galileo release, but the Maven plugin for Eclipse is really shaping up nicely. We've converted all our active projects to Maven, and it's really convenient to be able to just grab a project out of the repository and start working immediately. Not to mention how nice the new archetype UI is.

6 comments:

Nirmal said...

Excited to use Galileo !!!

Keep the good work....
Nirmal

Bruno Vernay said...

Maven support is very poor alas specially compared to Netbeans.
Someone knows how to install maven plugin support in Galileo ???

Joao said...

Thanks man, this was a really good review/overview. Looks like I use it pretty much the same way you do :)

bge said...

@Bruno: Go to http://m2eclipse.sonatype.org and follow the instructions. Works great with the release.

@Nirmal & @Joao: thanks, I appreciate it.

jsh02_nova said...

Hello Benoit Goudreault-Emond,
I have found myself having to maintain a Silanis AXS, but have no access to current documentation. Do you know of any internet resources I can download a Silanis SDK or server documentation?
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

jsh
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-holsinger/9/261/3a9

bge said...

@jsh02_nova: I haven't worked at Silanis for a long time (6 years... time sure flies). I'm not even sure what AXS stands for anymore (the XHTML product, right?)

One thing for sure, I don't have the documentation; I'm not in the habit of keeping proprietary information when I move to a new job. Have you tried contacting Silanis support?