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Eclipse Ganymede: An in-depth look at Mylyn

by Alex Blewitt on Jun 20, 2008 |

As part of the upcoming Eclipse Ganymede release, scheduled for June 25th, InfoQ is covering a series of Eclipse subprojects. Today, the topic is Mylyn. InfoQ spoke with Mik Kersten, lead of the Mylyn project and President of Tasktop Technologies, to learn more about what to expect in Ganymede.

Mylyn is described as a "Task-Focused Interface for Eclipse that reduces information overload and makes multi-tasking easy." and has been distributed with Eclipse since last year's Europa release. However, the pace of the project continued and resulted in four versions being released during the past year. Ganymede sees a new version, Mylyn 3.0, described by Kersten:

Mylyn 3.0 represents a major evolution in the maturity of the framework and APIs that the task-focused interface. To users, this surfaces as considerable UI streamlining along with additional features such as offline creation of new tasks, content assist for tasks, and focus for the Breakpoints and new Markers view in Eclipse 3.4. We have also put significant effort into hardening existing features and improving performance. For example, task editors open up almost instantly even if a task has a couple hundred comments, and snapshots of the Task List are saved hourly for easy restore. If you haven't upgraded since last year's Europa release, you'll also notice the broad range of features added in the Mylyn 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 releases.

Mylyn can integrate with bug tracking and issue systems, and over the past year several more have been added. The list of Mylyn Extensions has the following supported connectors:

  • Eclipse.org (3.0 ready connectors)
    • Bugzilla
    • JIRA
    • Trac
    • Web templates
    • XPlanner
  • External (3.0 updates in progress)
    • Bugclipse: FogBugz
    • Codebeamer
    • CollabNet: SFEE, IssueZilla, Project Tracker
    • EmForge
    • IBM Jazz
    • Mantis
    • Origo
    • Rally
    • Request Tracker (RT)
    • Tasktop: Outlook, GMail, Google Calendar
    • Track+

The release of Mylyn 3.0 has streamlined the API, which will make it easier to write connectors in the future. These changes may require existing connectors to be ported, so some of the external connectors may not work when Ganymede is initially released. Kersten described the improvements as follows:

The most important thing about Mylyn 3.0 is that the APIs now will now make connectors easier to write and more robust. In the course of Europa, we saw almost a dozen new connectors crop up, ranging from the SourceForge Enterprise Edition project management tool, to the RT ticketing system, to email support via Outlook and Gmail (see the Mylyn Extensions page). We consumed all of the feedback from integrators building on Mylyn and made our core focus be a major update to the APIs, enabling the framework to support the next rounds of products and integrations. Some very neat innovations that leverage Mylyn 3.0 are just around the corner, with summer releases of the SpringSource Tool Suite and Tasktop. Internally to Eclipse projects, we're very pleased that Ganymede includes Mylyn integration for CDT, since C++ developers will start seeing more of the productivity increase that so many Java developers have had since Europa. Support for AspectJ is set to ship this summer as well. In short, we're amazed at how fast the integrator community is extending the reach of Mylyn, working hard to apply the dozens of patches we get from them each month, and looking forward to seeing where they take the technology in the course of Ganymede.

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Ganymede... by Mike Funk

Downloaded Ganymede yesterday, created a Java project, then attempted to create a user library and it crashed. Made two successive attempts to do the same, it crashed each time. Will Ganymede even be usable come release day next week?

Re: Ganymede... by Mik Kersten

Mike: I have been using Ganymede milestones and release candidates all year and find that it is both very stable and a significant improvement over Europa. So out of curiosity I tried to reproduce your failure and couldn't. In order to determine the cause of your crash, please file a bug against the JDT product, with steps to reproduce and any interesting details about your environment.

Re: Ganymede... by Mik Kersten

Also note that if you were running on a 64bit Windows machine and not running Vista, you may have hit bug 237432, which is fixed in the latest builds.

Re: Ganymede... by Mike Funk

Mik: Thanks for your timely comment. I'll try Ganymede at home this weekend. I'll also try it again at work next Monday, and report back.

Re: Ganymede... by Mike Funk

Mik: It worked on my laptop. My system at work has RAD7 installed, and I wonder if that had anything to do with the Ganymede 'build user library' failure. Thankfully, I'm a Maven kinda guy. But my clients sometimes build projects the old fashioned way.

I'm also an Intellij guy. But, again, my clients are all too often Eclipse users. Free is just too strong a lure for some people. So it's my sincere hope that Ganymede represents a dramatic improvement in usability, which would make my life a lot better on the job.

why would I use Mylyn? by Mitchell Miller

Alex,
I've been writing C with vi/vim for 22 years, finally learning jsp/servlets/IDE.
I tried Netbeans, now trying Eclipse. "An in-depth look at Mylyn" explains nothing.
I don't know who wrote "Task-Focused Interface for Eclipse that reduces information overload and makes multi-tasking easy" - but that could be Windows 95.

What is Mylyn, and why/when would I use it?

Thanks, Mitch

Re: why would I use Mylyn? by Gerald Preissler

Mitch,

at live.eclipse.org/node/412 you can find a webinar that should answer your questions. You might also want to look at the tutorial at www.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-mylyn1/

Re: why would I use Mylyn? by Mitchell Miller

Thanks Gerald

Re: Ganymede... by Mik Kersten

Mike: Good to hear that you're up and running. Whether or not Ganymede is a dramatic improvement in usability depends where you're coming from. If you're coming from Eclipse Europa, you will notice numerous incremental improvements across the board (e.g., see the Ecipse Platform New & Noteworthy). If you're coming from IntelliJ IDEA, you'll have to get used to the various differences between the two IDEs. A key benefit of IDEA is the streamlining and shortcuts for Java development that users get accustomed to. In Eclipse that streamlining is different because it has evolved independently, and as such it can incur a learning curve when switching. One of the key benefits of Eclipse is the large number of integrations that have formed around it. Since those integrations use the same UI metaphors as the Eclipse Platform, the learning curve should be a good investment of time if you need to use other Eclipse-based tools.

In terms of dramatic improvements in IDE usability, give Mylyn a try and let us know if you think that qualifies :)

Re: Ganymede... by Thomas Anderson

Well, I don't like mylyn, any idea how to uninstall it from CDT eclipse bundle? Why is it not optional component actually?
For the answer about natural 'why would I' question, see the
bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=294910

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