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EclipseME—Another IDE Option for J2ME Development : Page 3

This summer, the 1.0 release of a new plug-in, namely EclipseME, affords J2ME developers another free IDE option built on top of this very popular and powerful platform.


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Features and Benefits
Eclipse has always provided developers with a very nice and powerful IDE—and one that many Java developers have come to love. The fact that EclipseME is built on top of Eclipse, in my mind, is its biggest feature. With Eclipse comes many features including code resolve, code completion, code formatting, refactoring tools, import assistance, its many code and project views and perspectives, a debugging facility, automatic build capability, a code comparison tool, comment generation, and much more.

As I was preparing this article, I imported some working MIDlets into Eclipse. Within seconds, it was telling me about unnecessary imports and unused methods. That's what I want my IDE to do—help me work better and faster. Of course, Eclipse's plug-in architecture also means you have access to a wide variety of additional tools and services. As discussed earlier, plug-ins can be both a positive and a negative with this environment.

Beyond basic Eclipse features, why should J2ME developers look at EclipseME? For one thing, a high-performance IDE. Though I like NetBeans and it has many features that the J2ME developer will want to see in EclipseME and other IDEs (more on this below), Eclipse with the EclipseME plug-in gets up fast, doesn't garbage collect nearly as often or as long as NetBeans with the Mobility Pack, and shuts down just as quickly. The build process is automatic (unless explicitly turned off) and I also found EclipseME's interaction with the wireless toolkit for running and debugging applications to be quick as well. Of course Sun's Wireless Toolkit is fast, but it does not provide you with code editing or real debugging capability.



Another feature of EclipseME is its J2ME MIDlet Suite and MIDlet creation wizards. After getting the tool set up, your first task will probably be creating a J2ME Project. Through the File > New > Project… menu selections in Eclipse, an EclipseME wizard (see Figures 3, 4, and 5) walks you through the creation of a new J2ME MIDlet suite.


Figure 3. The J2ME MIDlet Suite Wizard Screen No. 1: Use the EclipseME J2ME MIDlet Suite Project Wizard to create J2ME MIDlet suites. Figures 3, 4, and 5 show the process of setting up the project structure and initial JAD file.
 
Figure 4. The J2ME MIDlet Suite Wizard Screen No. 2: Use the EclipseME J2ME MIDlet Suite Project Wizard to create J2ME MIDlet suites. Figures 3, 4, and 5 show the process of setting up the project structure and initial JAD file.
 
Figure 5. The J2ME MIDlet Suite Wizard Screen No. 3: Use the EclipseME J2ME MIDlet Suite Project Wizard to create J2ME MIDlet suites. Figures 3, 4, and 5 show the process of setting up the project structure and initial JAD file.

Similarly, once a project has been created, an EclipseME wizard helps you create base J2ME MIDlets (see Figures 6 and 7). Through the File > New > Other… menu selections in Eclipse, this wizard will help create the shell MIDlet complete with stubbed MIDlet methods, create appropriate imports, extend and implement coding, and add the MIDlet appropriately to the JAD file.


Figure 6. The J2ME MIDlet Wizard Screen No. 1. These wizard screens create the shell MIDlet class complete with stubbed MIDlet methods. The wizard also adds the new MIDlet to the JAD file if indicated to do so.
 
Figure 7. The J2ME MIDlet Wizard Screen No. 2. These wizard screens create the shell MIDlet class complete with stubbed MIDlet methods. The wizard also adds the new MIDlet to the JAD file if indicated to do so.

EclipseME does not yet provide J2ME developers with any special editors (a shortcoming discussed in a bit) save one—the JAD Editor. Anytime you request to see or edit the MIDlet Suite's Java Application Descriptor (JAD) file, EclipseME brings up the Application Descriptor File editor. This multi-tabbed editor (see Figure 8) allows developers to configure the MIDlets and MIDlet Suite without having to dig into a text file. For developers familiar with Eclipse or WSAD, you will surely recognize the multi-tabbed deployment descriptor type editor that makes working with application configuration a little easier and less error prone.

Figure 8. The JAD Editor. The JAD editor is a multi-tabbed editor that makes reading and modifying the J2ME MIDlet suites configuration easier and less prone to errors.
As with most J2ME IDE or development tools, EclipseME offers two packaging options. There is a regular JAR/JAD package and an obfuscated JAR/JAD package if ProGuard has been installed and configured to work with EclipseME. A third "packaging option," if Antenna has been installed and configured, allows EclipseME to generate and export the Ant and Antenna build.xml and properties files. This is a nice feature if team members or customers are not always going to be using EclipseME.

EclipseME's integration with several UEI toolkits allows building and testing applications on multiple devices. However, the project is associated with the platform definition. Therefore testing an application on each toolkit requires some configuration work. It would also be nice to be able to develop a project where help is provided in dealing with the device fragmentation issue.



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