PDE Goodness: Project and Target Platform Templates

PDE Goodness: Project and Target Platform Templates

A nice thing about Eclipse PDE is that it has mechanisms to make it very easy for developers to get started consuming your frameworks. Here are two of them.

Target Platform Templates

For runtime projects, such as Riena, RAP and Equinox, the first hurdle a developer faces is to set-up the appropriate target platform. A target platform is the collection of bundles that are available during compilation. Obviously if you ship runtime components they must end up in there to be available for compilation.

You can make this much easier for others by contributing a target platform template to the “New Target Definition” wizard. A developer can then select an entry in the “Template” drop-down and will instantly receive a pre-configured target definition. Much easier and less error-prone that recreating the target definition manually from step-by-step instructions.

Since the target definition’s payload can be provisioned over http, the developer only has to click on “Set as Target Platform” and is done. For details refer to the org.eclipse.pde.core.targets extension point.

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Project Templates

Another way to help developers with their first steps is to provide a project template. This hooks into the last page of “New Plug-in Project” Wizard and pre-populates a new project with source code, binary content and appropriate plugin.xml and MANIFEST.MF files.

The templating mechanism has a lot of depth as you can manipulate data-models to dynamically craft the MANIFEST.MF and plugin.xml files. You can also define placeholder variables, such as $pluginId$ and use them in source templates. There are mechanisms to tie these variables to UI elements in the wizard pages. The developer documentation on the matter is somewhat superficial. At the moment your best bet is to check out and study the org.eclipse.pde.ui.templates project from the Eclipse CVS (/cvsroot/eclipse/pde/ui/org.eclipse.pde.ui.templates). It contains the templates that ship with the IDE and therefore plenty of examples. Complement this by reading the specification of the org.eclipse.pde.ui.pluginContent extension point and this introductory article on developer works.

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