Monday, August 29, 2005

Eclipse Web Tools Platform

Yesterday I spent part of the afternoon porting my web application development to Eclipse Web Tools Platform. I was developing it as an usual Java project and always creating a war to deploy into Tomcat everytime I wanted to test. Altough I had already used Sysdeo Tomcat plugin and I knew how to set the context to make Tomcat use my work directory, I stick to this option, so I would have a definitive deployment solution when the development was delivered to the customer. My Ant build.xml had very fancy options, like JSP precompilation, Tomcat connection through its management interface (to install, remove or list applications, among other possibilities).

However, even with these nice features, it took too long to test some minor UI changes, so I decided that I had to make my development more efficient. I almost downloaded Sysdeo and got back to the old way, but since I was already using Eclipse WST (actually only the HTML/JSP/XML editors), I decided to port my project to it. Thus I created a Dynamic Web Project and moved all my classes and files. I knew how to configure a servlet container (from some tutorials) and in a few minutes I had the project working. Despite a few bugs that I spent some hours to figure out a workaround, WST is a very good platform for web development. Now all my taglibs are recognized and I have the possibility of debugging my application, besides a much faster way to develop, since every change is automatically auto-deployed. It was great to know that my customized context.xml file (that resides in META-INF directory) was read and promptly configured in the thin Tomcat configuration that WST creates to run only your project.

Surely you should give it a go if you are developing a web application in Java.
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