Changes in Eclipse 3.4 Ganymede

Eclipse is the platform of choice for Java programmers. It was created by IBM to improve the state of art in the area of IDEs for Java developers, but it has gained ground in much more than just Java development. Nowadays, Eclipse is used for a host of programming languages, such as C++, PHP, Python, and even Lisp.

Eclipse's power comes from extensibility. The same tactic used by editors such as Emacs or Textmate is used by Eclipse: having a standard language (in this case Java) used to extend the environment in ways that were never imagined by its creators. The extensibility of Eclipse comes in the form of plug-ins, pieces of functionality that you can easily add.

For example, to add support for a new language, such as C++, you just need to search for a web-site providing the plug in (in this case the set of plugins is called the CDT (C++ development toolset)). Then, Eclipse can be used to load the plugin, and provide all functionality in the next time the program is loaded.

Improvements in Ganymede

The new version of Eclipse provides usability improvements, such as a new breadcrumb tool bar. This tool bar is able to track the exact packages, classes, and methods that are edited at some moment, so that it is easier to change the location to edit. This feature will help to improved editing in a way similar to the tool bar of Visual Studio, which allows one to jump inside the current file to a specific method. The new version has also a new interface to add and retrieve plug ins, which make it easier to add new features to the system.

The Eclipse developers have also worked hard to improve speed and stability of the new version of the software. It is nice to see that these changes have improved even more the response time of Eclipse, which has suffered a little in the past due to performance problems with Java virtual machines. The new versions of Eclipse, however, are almost as responsible as any other native application written in C++. And, even more important, they are easier to extend due to the capabilities of Java.

Almost all existing plugins for Eclipse will work on the new Ganymede version, which is named after the moon of Jupiter. A few plugins that don't comply with the changes in Eclipse are in the process of being updated by authors. Moreover, the process of installing plugins has been somewhat simplified, so it will be easier to ever to extend Eclipse for your needs.

Article created on 2008-08-25 22:52:02

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