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Changing the way you work with Mylar

by Rob Thornton on Oct 12, 2006 |

Mylar is an Eclipse plug-in that changes Eclipse into a task focused UI. Mylar lets you define tasks and then it associates information (such as classes, methods, or compilation errors) with it, based on your activities. Mylar, which recently released version 0.7, connects to several common task repositories (JIRA, Bugzilla, and Trac) to allow you to use those tasks, instead of creating your own.

Mik Kersten, the project lead for Mylar, has recently published a two part article on IBM's developerWorks site. Part 1 introduces Mylar and walks through setting it up with a remote task repository then describes how your work day would change with Mylar helping filter your work. Here Kersten describes the change:

Over time, the result of using Mylar is a subtle but fundamental shift in the way you work. Once you become accustomed to working in a task-focused way, you, like many other Mylar users, are likely to notice a dramatic increase in your productivity. Being organized, staying on top of dozens of bug reports, and tracking your progress will gradually become effortless.

Part 2 of the article steps through using Mylar for Java development and how it boosts productivity. Mylar is a powerful boost for a single developer, but it also allows the Mylar contexts to be shared. The context contains all of the knowledge about the task that Mylar has recorded. Kersten describes the benefit of sharing contexts:

you can easily share task context by attaching it to a bug report. When retrieving a shared context, you can select from all available if more than one is present. On the Mylar project, for example, we attach a context to every bug report that is resolved and request that a context be attached with every patch that is contributed. This sharing of expertise through context makes it much easier to apply patches, delegate bug reports to team members, and clean up code after a pair-programming session. The fact that all of our resolved bugs have a context stored means that we can instantly recall and use past expertise whenever a bug is reopened or similar tasks arise.

Mylar is growing in popularity. Developers are finding that even after just a week or two of use, it has changed the way they work. The ability to return to a task you worked on a month ago and have all of the pertinent files opened and the most relevant classes and methods bolded is a great time saver. There is a flash video that demonstrates some of the power of Mylar, though the video was captured using version 0.4. The 0.7 release supports Eclipse 3.2 and 3.3M3 and the project is moving along rapidly, with a 0.8 release expected in a couple weeks.

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