useless faqs

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I received email today alerting me to a competition for faculty and students to develop plug-ins using the Eclipse Platform. Never heard of it. So I went to the web site, and checked out the FAQ. Under "What is the Eclipse Platform?," I found this:

The Eclipse Platform is an open extensible IDE for anything and yet nothing in particular. The Eclipse Platform provides building blocks and a foundation for constructing and running integrated software-development tools. The Eclipse Platform allows tool builders to independently develop tools that integrate with other people's tools so seamlessly you can't tell where one tool ends and another starts.

Huh? For "anything and nothing in particular?" Does this answer actually say anything? Or is it just a string of buzzwords, signifying nothing? I'm not willing to spend much more time poking around this site for information, but I'm curious as to whether any of the more technically-minded folks who read my site have any knowledge of or experience with this IDE.

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What is Eclipse? from Timbu :: Musings on November 13, 2003 11:20 PM

mamamusings asks what is Eclipse? On the surface it's an IDE, but it's capable of much, much more. I have looked at it several versions and plugins, but frankly I still don't get it. If you like IDE's and/or java Read More


Eclipse is actually pretty cool. It's a very high level, development environment that IBM kindly open-sourced to the world. All of the intro CS classes at WUSTL are now using it instead of Emacs. It'd be most similar to something like Microsoft's Visual Studio if you know what that does.

The best part about Eclipse besides it being open source is that is is *very* modular and extensible. For example, some people have written a bunch of code to make it easy to design PHP websites in Eclipse and have it check your code as you go and let you interact with a web server or CVS server all within Eclipse.

It's rather powerfull and portable. It's written in Java and I've used it in Linux and Windows.

Like the New Yorker used to print "quotes we doubt ever got quoted," this looks like a "frequently asked question" answer I doubt ever got said.

I'll go with David, and also offer that the tool is so generic that it defies simple explanation. It's so abstract, defining it can limit the perceived uses of it.

(I've never used it, but it looks pretty cool)

Perhaps offering examples of how it has been used in the FAQ would be useful.

Instead, you may find this useful:

'What it is' is really less important than 'what it can do'. :)

I'm going to try to give this another shot.

So eclipse is actually a few things.

1) There is the Eclipse platform (or framework) which is where you got that definition from the FAQ. It literally is what the definition says. It's the building blocks provided to make a development application. So if you wanted to make a program that let people write code together while playing tetris you could do that without having to start from scratch. You could use most of the Eclipse stuff and just add in your own tetris game.

2) There is the Eclipse IDE. Think of this as an actual example of the Eclipse framework in use. It's a full development environment that is based on the Eclipse platform. So basically it proves that the platform and framework is good stuff and it's also a totally usefull tool for writing code.

3) The last part of Eclipse is their more "social" component, the Eclipse Technology Project. This is where they try to encourage other developers to get involved in programming with or on Eclipse by providing the tools and resources needed to work.

I hope that helps. For what it's worth, there are tons of Eclipse plugins, for ANT (java build system), CVS, co-development programming, php, etc. If you have a proper Java installation then setup is a breeze and from what I've heard, most people tend to like it.

Eclipse is super-cool and definitely worth looking into, Liz. I use it primarily for Java development, but there are plenty of plugins for PHP development, as well as XML/XSLT, even plugins that create interfaces to Postgres and MySQL databases. It's open so you can really develop whatever plugins you need.

I simply couldn't program without it. Meg and Mark and I are using it over at Kinja and it's awesome.

Forgot to mention it kicks ass on Panther, too. :)

Sorry to flood your comments, Liz, promise to stop after this, but I wrote up some notes a few months back on the various Eclipse plugins I've used when I first fell in love with it.

I haven't written anything even vaguely resembling code in fifteen years or so, but these testimonials are so enthusiastic I almost want to start over so I can enjoy the coolness they describe. . . .

I took a class a few quarters ago from Professor Lawley where we were introduced to blogs and asked to begin our own. I'm a Computer Science major at RIT.

I use the Eclipse IDE at work for software development because it's free and very customizable. I know there are many free plug-ins to help with the UML design portion of the software development life cycle. I would assume these have been developed on what is known as the "Eclipse platform" so that they plug into Eclipse.

Hi, Joe! Glad to see you're still blogging. :) Will add you to my RIT blogroll...

And thanks for the Eclipse info. Just found out that it's being used in the SE labs downstairs, so I'll have to swingdown there and take a look.

Eclipse is similar to Movable Type in a lot of ways. It's an application, or it's a "platform". Just like Movable Type, Eclipse is highly extensibile; lots of folks have come up with VERY sophisticated extensions.

In fact, the Eclipse IDE is just one of the more visible applications to use the Eclipse framework. Unlike MT, the Eclipse framework doesn't really do anything on its own.

I've used Eclipse for Java development, PHP development (using the xored TruStudio plug-in), and XML development (using, among others, the XMen plug-in). It's a high-quality tool that doesn't get in your way. To echo others here, it's awesome.

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