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EclipseME—Another IDE Option for J2ME Development : Page 4

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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Limitations and Shortcomings
As EclipseME is still a "first version" product, it understandably has some growing room. First, the tool does not really offer any type of development tools, wizards, or help with other J2ME classes outside of the MIDlet suite and MIDlet classes. There are no tools to help put together UI components such as Screens (Form, List, etc.) or Canvas, and no tools for creating and using RecordStores or GenericConnections. Graphical editors for creating many of these components would greatly improve the J2ME developer's productivity. NetBeans has started providing limited graphical J2ME GUI editors, but though NetBeans has a leg up, IDEs still have a long way to go in this area.

While EclipseME allows for the development and packaging of MIDlet Suites, it only allows for the debugging and testing (running) of individual MIDlets. Some users have already submitted this to the bug/enhancement request list hosted at SourceForge.

Project configurations, dealing with the device fragmentation, and providing tools to assist with developing J2ME Web service clients are enhancements that EclipseME has not yet addressed, where other IDEs have started providing preliminary solutions. Also, on the lower end of "wants," the integration of ProGuard is a start, but I would also like to see options to integrate other obfuscators and/or provide options to tune what/how the code is obfuscated.

Wrap Up
Overall, EclipseME (with Eclipse) is a solid development platform for J2ME developers. It may not have the features that NetBeans has, but it performs well and certainly beats using a text editor and Sun's Wireless Toolkit. Based on some experience with the tool and the tool's support/bug report pages, EclipseME version 1 appears stable. It is not fancy (beyond the base Eclipse IDE), but provides developers with a real tool to develop and debug real J2ME applications. I would call it a meat-and-potatoes IDE, but one with real promise given its current state and participation in the Eclipse project.

Because it's built on the well-loved Eclipse, I can't imagine any J2ME developer who already knows and loves Eclipse passing over this plug-in. All of us are waiting for an IDE with sufficient features for J2ME development—and if enough developers dig in and push for more features now, I'm certain EclipseME will have all the features of NetBeans and more soon.

Jim White is an instructor with Intertech Training. He is also co-author of Java 2 Micro Edition, (Manning).
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