ColdFusion News Desk
Making the Switch to CFEclipse to Write ColdFusion Code
When I started writing ColdFusion code, ColdFusion Studio was the editor of choice
By: Jeffry Houser
Apr. 13, 2006 10:15 AM
I've been using CFEclipse for about four months. When I started writing ColdFusion code, ColdFusion Studio was the editor of choice. Slowly I moved over to Dreamweaver as Homesite's support started to wane.
About a year ago, when I wrote an article on Dreamweaver, I used half of Dreamweaver and half of Homesite. Today, as I write this, half my development is done in CFEclipse and the other half in Dreamweaver. Unfortunately I used Dreamweaver as a really advanced text editor, something it's not that great at. CFEclipse seemed like the obvious alternative so I got it installed and I'm slowly learning its power. The learning curve for CFEclipse has been steep, since, coming from Dreamweaver, its interface is counterintuitive. Assuming that other people are having the same problem, I thought I'd share my thoughts.
Unfortunately, there's no CFEclipse install/setup wizard like you'd find in many other products such as Dreamweaver or ColdFusion. So the first step in setting up CFEclipse is to download Eclipse. First you need to install Eclipse and then you'll have to install the CFEclipse plug-ins. You can download Eclipse from the Eclipse.com web site at www.eclipse.org/downloads/.
Eclipse is unique compared to any other product I've used in having a no-install install. Once you unpack the file you downloaded (I grabbed a Win32 zip, however. tar and gz options also exist), the product is installed. That's all you need to run the program. There are no ini files and no registry installs. You're good to go. I unzipped the zip into a directory called "C:\Eclipse." Click on the eclipse.exe in that directory and this window will pop up similar to Figure 1.
This dialog asks you to select your default workspace. A workspace is how Eclipse manages projects, plug-ins, and other settings. What would you use workspaces for? Perhaps you'll want to set up a workspace for Java development and one for ColdFusion development. Or, perhaps you want a different workspace for each project you're working on. If you like me, you might want a workspace for each client. For purposes of this tutorial, you can use the default settings for your workspace.
The next step is to install the CFEclipse plug-in in your Eclipse workspace. From the "Help" menu, select "Software Updates" then "Find and Install." This will bring up the Install/Update window with two options: Search for updates to current features and Search for new features to install. Select "Search for New Features To Install" and click Next. You should see a screen as shown in Figure 2
Click the New Remote Site button and this window should show up (see Figure 3).
For the name enter CFEclipse. For the URL enter http://www.cfeclipse.org/update. Click OK and CFEclipse should be added to your sites. Make sure to select it and click Finish. CFEclipse will show a new window with all available updates (see Figure 4).
You have two options: either install the latest stable release of CFEclipse or the Bleeding Edge release. The Bleeding Edge release is usually an "in process" version. I prefer to go with the stable releases. Check what you want to install and click Next. Read through the license and click "I accept the terms of the license agreement." Click Next to review your updates. Then click Finish to install. CFEclipse will download. You'll see a feature verification window. (This is your last chance to cancel the install if you're having cold feet). Click Install then Yes to restart the workbench. CFEclipse is installed.
You'll find a much more detailed account of this install process in the ACME Guide located at www.stephencollins.org/acme/. ACME stands for Apache, ColdFusion, MySQL, and Eclipse and talks about setting up all them in a development environment.
Setting up a Project
In my Dreamweaver article, I talked about setting up a site. You'll probably want to do the same thing in CFEclipse. In CFEclipse, a project is the equivalent of a Dreamweaver site. This is how you can set it up:
1. While in the CFEclipse Perspective, select File‡ New ‡ Project. You'll get a list of all available project types as shown in Figure 5. Expand CFEclipse and then select "CFML Project." Click Next (see Figure 5).
2. This puts you in the new Project Dialog. Give the project a name and specify its directory location. Most likely you're going to be starting a new project so feel free to use the default directory, which points to the workspace directory. Click Finish. Now the project is created.
3. CFEclipse isn't as full-featured in its project settings as Dreamweaver, but there are a few that you may want to make note of. In the navigator on the left side of the screen, you should see the name of the project and a list of all files/directories that are part of the project. Right-click on the project name and select Properties. Select CFEclipse properties and you should see something like Figure 6.
This will let you specify the project URL and the path to your snippet directory. If you're using different workspaces, but want to share snippets, you can do so here. You can also enter the docroot, which refers to the browser view, an option underneath the code view. If you want a quick browse of the files in your project, this is the way to do it without switching to a different window.
Dealing with Components
This is a nice quick outline of all the methods in your CFC. If you double-click on one of the methods, you'll jump right to its place in the component. This can be handy when jumping around long components. The Method view won't work on a regular cfm file even if you have functions inside it, however, the outline view will. The outline view gives you a collapsible hierarchical view of your files.
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