How to set up a new Eclipse environment

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Have you ever wanted to start using a new version of Eclipse but couldn’t justify it because of all the time you’ve spent getting your preferences and project settings just so? And you don’t want to type in all those Update site URLs again to get all your plugins? While there is currently no one-click easy way to completely migrate an existing Eclipse install to a new one, I do have some timesavers for you.

Always start with a new Workspace

I’ve seen too many problems with trying to reuse an existing workspace in hopes of saving some time moving from an old version of Eclipse to a new one. Don’t do it. When you fire up the new Eclipse, and it asks you for the workspace, give it a new location. I keep a directory named “Eclipse Workspaces”, and in it lay the corpses of a dozen or more old workspaces. I name my workspaces with this general pattern:


For example, for my work projects, I use ColdFusion Builder on Galileo. My workspace is Bolt_Galileo_Work. When I was fiddling with some of the Helios (Eclipse 3.6) RCs, I was using Bolt_Helios_RC2_Work.

For Eclipse Plugin development I use CFEclipse_Helios_PluginDevelopment.

I always reserve the right to break that pattern.

Getting all your plugins

I’ve seen some people suggest copying them from the old install, and perhaps that works just fine. Here’s how I do it: I Export the update sites I want to install into my new Eclipse, and then Import them in the new one. Then, I install the plugins using the tried-and-true software installer. Here’s how:

In your old Eclipse

  1. Help – Install New Software
  2. Click the “Available Software Sites” link
  3. On the Available Software Sites screen, select the plugins that you want to install into your new Eclipse
  4. Click the “Export” button, and go through the dialog of saving the XML file someplace sensible, like your Desktop

That screen looks like this:


In your new Eclipse

  1. Following the same steps as above, get to the Available Software Sites screen
  2. Click the “Import” button
  3. Navigate to that XML file you saved previously and follow all steps
  4. Now you have those update sites available to you. From there, get back to the Install software screen, select “All Software Sites” from the dropdown, and let Eclipse find and install all those plugins you know and love


Getting some of your Preferences

You can export some of your preferences from the old install to the new one, though you do have to beware that you’re going to import some preferences you don’t actually want. More on that in a bit.

In your old Eclipse

  1. File – Export
  2. Select “Preferences”
  3. Follow the rest of the screens to save your prefs as an .epf file

In your new Eclipse

  1. File – Import
  2. Select “Preferences”
  3. Follow the rest of the screens

As I said, it’s going to copy some preferences that you don’t want. In particular for me, I always get bitten by the “ANT Runtime” preferences. In that case, I let it do its thing, and then I go back into Window – Preferences and point the ANT runtime to the one that comes bundled with the new Eclipse. Even with that little annoyance, it’s worth it to export/import preferences because it brings over so much.


Getting all your projects

Perhaps the most time-consuming part of moving to a new Eclipse installation is getting all your projects back in there. Fortunately, this can also be the least time-consuming. Here’s what to do in your New Eclipse installation:

In CFEclipse

  1. File – Import
  2. Select “Existing Projects into Workspace”. Click Next
  3. In the “Select Root Directory” field, type in the directory where you keep most of your projects. Hit Enter
  4. Once it finds all the projects in that directory, choose the ones you want, and hit “Finish”

In ColdFusion Builder

Follow the same steps as above, but at Step #2, choose “ColdFusion – Import existing Projects”

NOTE: This will not copy All of the existing properties for the projects, such as the MXUnit cfcpath and remote facade URL. For ColdFusion Builder, it will carry over the server settings since they are stored in a file that lives inside that project and not outside of it like most project properties in Eclipse


Some Preferences I’m always sure to confirm

Once I’m finished with the above, I have a few preferences I always double-check. In Window – Preferences:

  • General – Show Heap
  • Quick Diff – Pristine SVN Copy
  • Local History – at least 180 days
  • Key Bindings – Alt-A for ANT view, Alt-S for CFEclipse Snip Tree View, and Alt-Y for Mylyn Task List view
  • Appearance – Colors and Fonts – Basic Text --  Consolas 12pt
  • CFEclipse / ColdFusion Builder Snippets path (I point it to a dropbox location)


If you have any quick tips for making migrating from one Eclipse installation to another less time-consuming, please share them.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Exporting preferences - it's actually 'File > Export > General > Preferences'

Great write up! This will save a lot of time!