The Eclipse developers did a really nice upgrade to the Plug-in manager in the new Galileo release. Managing plug-in sites seems much easier and cleaner with the new Available Software Sites menu option in the main preferences area. Not really a new feature, but seemingly more obvious, is the ability to import and export update sites to and from your team mates. I have exported my settings and linked them to the XML file icon on the left. Simply download the XML file and import them into Eclipse and you are ready to go. I can’t believe I never used this feature in the previous versions!
Also, don’t forget that you can also have Eclipse automatically find new updates for you. This is not a new feature either, but one that I always seem to forget! I just hit the Check for updates option every so often; not nearly as convenient! You can find this option under the Install/Update preferences panel as well.
Once you have your software sites configured, it is time to install or update your configuration. Under the main Help option, select Install New Software. You can select multiple plug-ins for installation or use the new Work with: option. You can filter your plug-ins based on a specific site’s configuration file. I’m not exactly sure why I like this better, but the old multi-tab Ganymede version was just too busy. I think the new screens are much cleaner and easier to work with.
I have to give credit to a co-worker who overheard me complaining about Eclipse one day… Ever since upgrading to the Ganymede version of Eclipse, the launch buttons for executing and debugging applications and unit tests were tied to the currently active editor. This was so annoying, I could not believe the Eclipse developers changed this behavior. Every time I clicked on the button, Eclipse would ask me what I wanted to do…. No, I don’t want to execute the XML file I was looking! No, I don’t want to execute the random Java file that I just fixed; I want to run the last unit test!
Pre-Ganymede versions of Eclipse simply ran the previously launched application or unit test. It was so convenient to just click the button and rerun the test. Apparently, I was not smart enough to look at all of the available options in the preferences menu; I conditioned myself to click on the little arrow next to the launch buttons and select the test I wanted to run from the menu. To my surprise, there was a new menu option that controlled the behavior of these buttons! Unfortunately, the default behavior is the un-desirable one, in my opinion; but with a quick click of the mouse, the world is right again! Hopefully, this little tip will make your Eclipse usage a little happier and smoother too. Thanks Jason!
I’m sure that everyone has seen this little icon on some web page or blog. Probably, like me, you never bothered to really check it out. How many tools or services do we need to save our bookmarks? I never worried about bookmark synchronization in the past. I would just re-Google my search, nine chances out of ten, I would find the page I was looking for. I generally don’t have time at work to read most (any) of the interesting articles I run across. To solve this problem, I started emailing the URLs to my home email and would read them in my spare time. This worked fine, but was kind of painful. I decided to gave http://delicious.com a try. I know this is nothing new; many of my friends have been using Xmarks (Foxmarks) for many years, but I wanted something that was more social. I created an account, http://delicious.com/philbeiler and use it pretty regularly. I have not gotten into the whole tagging thing yet, I use it mainly to save myself time. The Firefox plug-in works great. It only takes a second to create new bookmarks or find one that I recently created.
The sad part is, that I have no one in my bookmark network! I think it would be really cool to see what my friends and co-workers were bookmarking. It my opinion, Web 2.0 is about sharing and learning; social bookmarking is just another method for enabling this information exchange. It is so easy for me to send someone to my bookmarks, to share what I have been reading or found interesting. It is also valuable to visit the home link on delicious, just to checkout the most popular bookmarks and tags. I guarantee, you will find something of interest!
I also in the process of migrating my RSS aggregator from NewsGator to Bloglines. Bloglines makes it easier to share what I’m reading as well, creating a public presence on their site, http://www.bloglines.com/public/PhilBeiler. I have not moved over all of my feeds yet, but it has worked well thus far. More on the reason behind the move later! I have to save that for another blog post! So, if anyone is using delicious, please add me to your network!
I found an interesting web that has all kinds of great information on website design. A highlighted a couple posts that I thought were very interesting: 10 Unusual Places to Get Design Inspiration and 10 Useful Firebug Extensions. You seriously should click on the design inspiration link, especially if you want to see how creative people can really be; check the beautiful web sites and unforgettable business cards. Truly amazing!
I also did not realize that people were building plug-ins to extend plug-ins! What a concept! I guess that is what makes Firefox such a powerful web browser, tool, platform; there are plug-ins to do about everything. I previously blogged about Firebug and YSlow, but I did not realize that Firebug was also a platform for other developer centric tools, such as HTML validation and code coverage. Someone was nice enough to create a Mozilla Collection for Web Debug Tools, it provides links to all of the referenced plug-ins.
I recently found a plug-in that I wanted to share as well, called IE Tab. A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a web application and was validating the browser compatibility of our CSS; it was kind of painful switching back and forth between the IE and Firefox, especially since I preferred using Firefox. Fortunately, I discovered IE Tab, which is unfortunately not available on Linux! It simply embeds Internet Explorer in a Firefox tab to render the current page’s content. There will be a little browser icon in the lower right-hand corner of the window; it indicates which browser was used to render the page/tab. Just click on the icon to switch between the two rendering approaches. I think this is much better than having two switch between browsers! Maybe I’m just lazy! There is one small short coming using this approach, it can only use the version of Internet Explorer that you have installed on your computer. I happened to be using IE8 and our testers were using IE6. Needless to say, we had a couple of unexpected issues! Can you believe that IE6 is still being used? I think I would go crazy with out tabbed browsing!