A month ago the Eclipse 3.6 shipped – again on time.
This is another evolutionary release – most components are binary compatible with the older ones, so the time of the migration was roughly equal to the download. All old favorites, such as Mylyn, EMF, etc. are updated, a lot of features were added, that makes development much easier. Some new components are also added, making a strong basis of the Eclipse eco-system.
The release features several improvements to the update mechanism, thus providing a whole new level of support for installing 3rd party plug-ins. These methods are based on the brand-new P2 provisioning API: the Modeling, Subversive or Mylyn Connector Discovery functions allows installing very specific plug-ins (making it easier to search for them), while the Eclipse Marketplace Client allows installing a wide selection of plug-ins (and this list keeps growing).
This solution is great, because I don’t have to remember/google for the various update site urls, and then manually select the features – if I don’t want to. If for whatever reason I need the specific knowledge, the “old” P2 user interface is still available.
A minor, but welcome addition is to the P2 interface the reliable cache clearing mechanism. It comes in handy when testing a new update site.
The Helios release is full of other gems, such as the graduated Xtext 1.0 with its new builder support, or the enhanced Variables and Breakpoints views in the Debug perspective.
My other favorite feature is the enhanced Cocoa-64 bit support for OSX – its performance/resource consumption is greatly improved, while the Dock icon overlays are also helpful (e.g. I can monitor the status a long-running task, while using another application).
Alltogether, the new release contains quite a few enhancements, that help the developers to provide better software using the framework, while maintaining the compatibility with older releases, thus making the switch easy (and possibly cheap) to do. I can hardly await the next (Indigo) release, and I’m looking forward to the new ideas of the e4 project.