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Eclipse Callisto Project Profile: Data Tools Platform

Nearly all J2EE applications use a relational database of some kind. Eclipse provides an integrated set of tools for working with such databases in the Callisto Data Tools Platform.

elational databases are a constant in today's development world. Despite advances in alternative storage and indexing technologies, such as full-text searching and indexing with Lucene and object-oriented and XML databases, the vast majority of modern J2EE applications still work with at least one relational database in one form or another. Yet this aspect of Java development has long been neglected in the standard Eclipse tool set, and developers have had to look for third-party plug-ins or external tools for their database needs.

Eclipse 3.2 has changed all that. The Data Tools Platform (DTP), and to a lesser extent the Web Tools Platform (WTP), both part of the new Callisto product suite released with Eclipse 3.2, provide a range of data-centric tools, including JDBC connectivity, SQL querying, database browsing, and more.

DTP provides a comprehensive set of tools for data-centric development, including SQL querying (including a visual SQL query modeler), execution plan analysis, and script history tracing. It also includes a framework for editing and debugging queries and stored procedures, and it enables you to connect to data sources other than relational ones. However, this promising project is still very much under development; only a subset of these features is currently available. Currently in its 0.91 release, the version 1.0 of DTP is scheduled for release in December 2006.

While the DTP project is devoted exclusively to data-centric development, the WTP project contains mostly tools and editors for J2EE development. But some WTP tools concern database development as well. This article looks at the tools provided by both these projects to make life easier when you work with relational databases in a J2EE application.

Installing DTP and WTP

Although these tools are part of the Callisto package, they do not come with the standard Eclipse 3.2 installation out of the box. However, they are relatively straightforward to install. The simplest approach is to use the remote update site, which is pre-configured in Eclipse 3.2. Go to the Remote Update window ("Help -> Software Updates -> Find and Install"), and select the "Callisto Discovery Site".

Eclipse will propose the full range of Callisto plug-ins and updates (see Figure 1). You will need to select at least the following plug-ins, plus any others you may be interested in:

  • Database development
  • Enabling features
  • Graphical editors and frameworks
  • Models and model development
  • Web and J2EE development
Alternatively, you can select all the Callisto tools, as they are all useful (with the possible exception, from a Java developer's point of view, of "C and C++ development").

Click to enlarge

Figure 1. Installing DTP from the Remote Site

Once you have installed the DTP tools, you need to restart your IDE. You are now ready to take a look at the main features of DTP and the database-oriented features of WTP. Some overlap currently exists between the two projects. The first part of the article investigates the DTP tools, and the second part examines WTP's database tools and how they compare to the ones in DTP.

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