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New book: Step-by-step Eclipse plug-ins, plus Java testing tool

I found a handy tool for automating testing of Java graphical user interfaces (GUIs) while reading
Eclipse Plug-ins, third edition
(Addison-Wesley) by Eric Clayberg and Dan Rubel. This month, I also got a chance to ask them some questions about the newly-minted third edition of this book, which gives step-by-step directions for plug-in development and descriptions of specific plug-ins. Here are excerpts from our Q&A and some information about the book’s contents and the Java testing tool.

First off, both Clayberg and Rubel are co-founders of Instantiations Inc., maker of GUI-building software and automated testing and code quality tools. They’ve been working with Eclipse since 1999 and developed CodePro on it.

Usage of Eclipse, now in its eight year of existence, is on the rise, the authors told me. They see potential for greater growth with OSGi and Equinox.

Taking developers beyond the basics to a point where they can create high-quality commercial Eclipse plug-ins is the goal of the book, said Clayberg. “In the world of Eclipse plug-ins, very few people take the time to really go the extra mile, and most plug-ins fall into the open source, amateur category.”

Describing and offering use cases of the Eclipse Command Framework (ECF) is one way the book helps developers get up to commercial speed. ECP replaces the older Action framework. “Throughout the book, use of the older Action framework has been replaced with new content describing how to accomplish the same thing with the new command framework,” said Rubel. In particular, the book covers use of commands with views and editors in ECF.

Here are some other ways the book provides updates and detailed information about some beyond-the-basics development steps:

All of the screen shots, text and code examples throughout the book have been updated to use the latest Eclipse 3.4 API and Java 5 syntax. New capabilities in Eclipse 3.4 are detailed, including a new overview of using Mylyn and a discussion of new preferences and PDE and SWT tools available in Eclipse 3.4.

In Chapter 20, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to using GEF, the Graphical Editing Framework from Eclipse.org. This toolkit is designed for building dynamic interactive graphical user interface elements. The authors walk through the process of building a GEF-based view for graphically presenting the relationships between the favorites items and their underlying resources. Then, taking a bigger step, they show how to build a GEF-based editor with the ability to add, move, resize, and delete the graphical elements representing those favorites items.

Clayberg and Rubel practice what they preach. They’ve recently released WindowBuilder Pro v7.0, an Eclipse plug-in tool for Java GUI developers, and continually update their CodePro AnalytiX software that adds enhancements to Eclipse and any Eclipse-based IDE.

Another plug-in the authors have made is WindowTester Pro, and it’s the Java GUI testing plug-in I mentioned reading about earlier in this post. As I said, it enables automated testing of Java GUIs that use SWT, JFace, Swing or RCP, eliminating the need to create and maintain test code through various phases – recording, test generation, code coverage, etc. – of GUI application interactions. Among other functions, WindowTester Pro facilitates integration of test case execution into a continuous build system, so your application is tested each every time it’s built.

Next year, the fourth edition of Eclipse Plug-Inswill deliver information on how to fix long-standing issues and jettison old, deprecated APIs.

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