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Mylyn 2.0 Keeps You Focused on the Task at Hand

The Eclipse Europa release includes a powerful productivity-boosting tool called Mylyn, which uses novel techniques to help you focus on just the information you need for a given task. Find out how Mylyn 2.0 can make you more productive.

any people use task lists to optimize their personal productivity. Whether it is on a PDA, through desktop software such as Outlook or Evolution, or on loose scraps of paper, a simple to-do list can be a formidable aide in boosting your work efficiency. You can scan your outstanding tasks, remain focused on the task at hand, and when you're done (or stuck), choose your next task appropriately.

As a developer, you likely have an abundance of tasks that can and/or do go into a personal to-do list. Features to code, bugs to fix, classes to refactor, tests to write, build scripts to maintain—the list is endless. If you work with Eclipse, you could be in luck in this domain. The latest Eclipse Europa release comes bundled with a unique tool called Mylyn (formerly Mylar), which goes well beyond simple task management to help you work more efficiently.

One of Mylyn's core benefits is helping you keep on top of your list of tasks, which can otherwise overwhelm you. Mylyn lets you manage a personal to-do list directly from within Eclipse. It also integrates smoothly with issue management systems such as JIRA, Bugzilla, and Trac, as well as (in the latest, bleeding-edge versions at least) with the agile project management tool Xplanner.

However, Mylyn is much more than a simple assistant for to-do lists. It can observe how you work on a particular task and progressively learn which files it impacts, which views it requires, and so on, demonstrating the real power of Mylyn lies. Indeed, it can mask out the 95 percent of your project that is irrelevant to the task at hand and let you concentrate on a relatively limited number of files.

Mylyn is also a great timesaver when you switch between tasks. When you pick up a new task, it immediately fills the workspace with the files and views exactly as you left them when you last stopped working on the task.

Finally, Mylyn keeps tabs on how much time you spend on each task, so it can also act as a built-in time-tracking tool—very handy for those end-of-week time sheets.

So, without further ado, let's take Mylyn for a spin.

Installing Mylyn
Mylyn comes bundled with the latest Eclipse Europa release. However, out-of-the-box it supports only Bugzilla, and Mylyn can do much better than that. To obtain JIRA and Trac integration, as well as the experimental Xplanner integration, you need to add the following Mylyn development update sites to your Eclipse configuration:

According to the Eclipse site, "Dev builds are production quality, but subject to UI changes." You can install these updates using the standard Eclipse procedure (see Figure 1).

Click to enlarge

Figure 1. Installing the Mylyn Extentions

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