Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eclipse Galileo Review

The Eclipse Foundation is about to release their newest version of their IDE, nick-named Galileo. I should say first that I am a fan of Eclipse and that it is my IDE of choice for Java development. I have recently tried NetBeans again for some JavaFX coding and I was unsatisfied with the experience (not because it did not handle the code well, but because I did not like the UI and the code completion is nowhere as good as Eclipse). I decided to give the latest pre-release version of Eclipse a shot to see if it was able to handle JavaFX scripting as well as NetBeans.

To start, I went to their site and right on the front page was a link to the download for their latest version. The download only took a few minutes, I unzipped it and clicked on the executable (I am forced to use Windows at work). As a side note, this is one of the things that I love about Eclipse. You can unzip the IDE to a thumb drive and create your workspace on that thumb drive and be able to use your customized IDE anywhere! Upon opening, the first thing I noticed was that it looks exactly the same as the last version.

The UI is pretty standard fare for Eclipse and this is something else that I enjoyed about it. The fact that I could seamlessly transition to a new version without having to relearn everything is great. I quickly threw together this test program to check to see if it would compile and run correctly (what good is an IDE if it can’t do this):

public class Test{

public static void main(String[] args){

System.out.println("Hello, Galileo");



This of course yielded the expected results of:

Hello, Galileo

So far, so good. The next step would be to try to install some add-ons. Since this is one of the aspects that makes Eclipse such a great product. The amazing number of add-ons and the sheer size of the Eclipse community make it a terrific platform, so I should have no problems right? Wrong!

I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to install some new add-ons. It wasn’t impossible, but it was a bit misleading. I decided to do this from the perspective of a new user, so the first thing I did was go to “Help” on the main taskbar. Unfortunately the help documentation was not updated for the newest version (although I suspect that this will be fixed in the full release version). It asks the user to click on options that are no longer available in Galileo. There used to be an option labeled Software Updates under the Help menu; it has been changed to 2 different menu options

1) Check for Updates

2) Install new software

I clicked on the Install new software and I was at a new menu.

I tried to click on the “Available Software Sites” option that is highlighted and to my surprise I received the following error message:

I restarted Eclipse and decided to go about it in a different way. I went back to
the Help – Install new Software option and this time I entered the direct Web address for the
JavaFX plug-in. I waited for the install to finish, restarted Eclipse and JavaFX was available.

Now I was ready to start building my first JavaFX Project (at least the first one in Galileo). Galileo does make getting a JavaFX project started easier than Ganymede. In fact, for some reason Ganymede would not even recognize that I had the JavaFX SDK installed. In fact, I haven’t changed anything on my system as far as JavaFX is concerned since I last tried to use Eclipse.

I wrote a simple FX script to produce a small window with a picture of Duke (the Java mascot). It worked great and I had no problems getting it done. In fact I was able to write the same program much faster than I was in NetBeans!

I will not be saying goodbye to NetBeans in favor of Eclipse once again. I can not wait for the final release of Galileo. The one Noticeable change for Galileo was a massive increase in overall speed. It loads faster and compiles quicker than previous versions of Eclipse and that is the real reason why you should switch to Galileo!