[Originally Posted 25-Sep-2005]

First, let me start with saying I’m a total JBuilder bigot. I’ve used it since version 1.0 and helped support the product on Borland’s forums for years. As I said in my earlier blog, with Borland’s new Peloton initiative I decided to start taking a more serious look at Eclipse and the Eclipse-based tool offerings. In the slag heap of plug-in’s I found a real gem that I need to share – MyEclipse Enterprise Workbench 4.0.

I’m not going to turn this into a MyEclipse vs JBuilder article. I think JBuilder is an excellent product. So, if you’re hoping that this will give you in the Eclipse community ammunition to blast away at JBuilder – think again.

There are couple of things missing from MyEclipse workbench that I *do* use in my development efforts:

– A Profiler (Borland’s OptimizeIt is probably one of the best).
– A visual designer for Swing or SWT UI’s.

The second one is easily remedied by downloading the Visual Editor (http://www.eclipse.org/vep/) and installing it along aside MyEclipse. As long you install to a fresh Eclipse 3.1 installation, then install MyEclipse, and then VE, you’ll be all set.

The underlying mission of the MyEclipse group is simple – take the best of what the Eclipse community is offering for plug-ins, and make them better (or in some cases just make them usable). They also create a lot of features from scratch (project models, capabilities model, Sync-On-Demand deployer for exploded projects, WYSIWYG JSP/JSF/Struts designer, etc). So this isn’t a mere agregation of what the Eclipse Plugin community has (as in the case with Lomboz) it’s much, much more. So note that you’re not just buying a ‘big plugin’ you’re buying a robust IDE for as little as 1.6% of some of the competitors and with 80% or more of the same features. All of that for USD50 a year membership – and you get upgrades for that year too.

MyEclipseIDE Features

First lets run down a quick list of a few of the more interesting features the features and goodies that are in MyEclipse. You can get full details on their Website at http://www.myeclipseide.com/ContentExpress-display-ceid-15.html:

Full development and debug support for deployment to a huge number of J2EE servers including WebLogic, JBoss, Oracle 9i and others. Sadly, Borland Enterprise Server was missing from the list. I hope they remedy this eventually.

UML Designers
The UML designers include support for Use-case, Class, Collaboration, State, Activity, and Deployment. Sequence diagrams aren’t currently included. MyEclipse has said they will fix this in an upcoming release.

JSF/Struts Designers
MyEclipse not only includes a visual designer for creating the pages themselves but it also includes a visual designer for mapping the actions when moving between pages. It needs to be noted that the WYSIWYG visual designers only work on systems that have IE 6 installed. The flow designers work fine with earlier versions of IE. Now, on those systems that have IE 6, you are in for a real treat. The WYSIWYG designers for Struts and JSF pages are slick and work extremely well.

Spring Framework Integration
MyEclipse actually takes the efforts from the SpringIDE Project (http://springide.org/project) and merges them into MyEclipse and makes the part of the MyEclipse experience. The biggest difference is that rather than invoking the “Spring Project Nature” you select “Enable Spring Project Capabilities” in the MyEclipse menu when you right-click on the node for the project. The Spring WebFlow support isn’t in this release, and I haven’t tried to put a newer Spring IDE *on top of* the MyEclipse. If you get so inclined, feel free to try, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Personal experience has told me that trying to put plugins with overlapping feature sets can have less-than-stellar results.

XDoclet Integration.
I’ve never been a huge user of XDoclet. But if you want something that will generate all of the ‘supporting’ code you need for EJB development (for example) it can be helpful. And MyEclipse has integrated XDoclet very well into their product.

EJB support is decent – while there are no whiz-bang designers, like in JBuilder for example (OK ok.. one comparison just for base of reference). The support for XDoclet tags as well as excellent XDoclet tag-insight support still make MyEclipse an excellent choice for those of us using EJBs. XDoclet will quickly generate all of the supporting XML and service-locator classes to make developing and testing EJBs go from downright frustrating to merely mildly annoying.

While having all of these features is nice it’s meaningless if they don’t work well together or enhance your development experience. MyEclipse delivers on this in a big way. It’s easy to add MyEclipse-specific features to both existing projects, as well as making new MyEclipse-capable projects.

All things considered, if you’re looking for a solid J2EE development platform MyEclipse Enterprise Workbench is probably the best 50 bucks you could ever spend on a single product.

[EDIT: For the budget-conscious (as if 50 bucks would really crimp anyone’s budget) , MyEclipse is still offering for their original pricepoint of USD29.95 for the “Standard” version. The main difference is that the UML and advanced Oracle tools are not included in the Standard version. But support and free upgrades are still a part of the deal and it’s a great deal…! ]