A new version of Eclipse (version 3.5 aka 'Galileo') was just released, along with a well-timed new version of CFeclipse (version 1.34), the Eclipse-based ColdFusion editor, and a new version (1.5) of the incredibly versatile Aptana Studio eclipse plugn.

I've been using Eclipse for a while now, but my installation was done as a total noob and it is unclear to me what is part of native Eclipse, what came with my current version of the CFeclipse plugin, and what's provided as part of the wonderful Aptana code editor, another must-have plugin for my daily Eclipse use.

In an effort to trace my steps this time around, I'm attempting to make notes as I go. Your mileage may vary (I'm on Windows, not sure if it varies for Mac, for example), but here's what I did: .

. 1) Install Eclipse. Go here: http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/ Scroll down, get the "Classic" version (last one in list). This should really be first on the list, but... it's not. Just get it. Once the big zip is downloaded, simply unzip it and copy the 'eclipse' folder to your computer, wherever you like (for me it is C:\Eclipse, but you can run it from anywhere, even a flash drive if you like ).

Eclipse is now installed!

2) Create a 'workspace' Eclipse needs a workspace to do what it does, and will prompt you for a folder name when you get it started the first time (and following times if you don't check the little box).

This does not have to be where you keep your files (mine are all in my local CF root), but it is where eclipse stores its 'metadata' and other required operational info. I made a folder called "eclipse_35" (C:\eclipse\eclipse_35) and pointed Eclipse towards that as a workspace folder.

NOTE: originally in this write-up I had 'install cfeclipse' right here. But when I got to the 'install Aptana' part, I had issues. Apparently Aptana is like the big kid on the playground, everything's fine as long as he gets to go first! So...

3) Install Aptana (this is a great package!)

see: http://www.aptana.com/docs/index.php/Plugging_Aptana_into_an_existing_Eclipse_configuration#Aptana_Studio_1.5_on_Eclipse_3.5_Instructions_.28Recommend.29

I was prompted to restart Eclipse and agreed. When it booted back up, the install window was opened automatically to "Aptana Studio Site" - I accepted, and installed the works... which is big. Give it time, but stay nearby to check the 'ok' boxes for things like firewall permissions or Eclipse restarts as needed. It helps to be watching a movie or something while you do all this.

Some people have checked out Aptana in Eclipse and balk at the size of the download. Remember, this is powerful (and free) stuff and filesize is totally irrelevant unless you are working from a floppy disk. Aptana rocks. I hardly ever edit a plain '.html' file anymore but when I do, Aptana is a really nice editor. For CSS, it is tops, and - last but definitely not least - Aptana adds crucial FTP functionality to Eclipse!

( see http://www.miuaiga.com/index.cfm/2008/12/28/Eclipse--Aptana--upload-with-key-combination )

Once you have Aptana installed, you will probably be prompted to restart Eclipse. If you see the Eclipse splash/icon screen (which is in my opinion very strange and unintuitive) , just click 'workbench' to make it look like a useful program again (or go to Window > Open Perspective > Other > Aptana )

Side Note: The FTP functionality in Aptana, available via the "Sync Manager" view, cannot be overstated. This is good stuff! ( also note, it is not the same as "sync manager" which I have yet to use at all).

4) Install CFeclipse.

Follow the instructions here: http://trac.cfeclipse.org/wiki/InstallingCfeclipse ( Thanks to whoever edited the wiki to include specific eclipse 3.5 instructions ! ) Again, be sure to uncheck the box that says 'group items by category' - You will be installing "CFEclipse (including CFUnit and Frameworks)".

5) Restart Eclipse.

Click to go to the 'workbench' (and then the "CFEclipse perspective" under Window > Open Perspective...)

At this point it appears I have a lot of my favorite functionality - the little 'word wrap' icon, which I think I had to set up separately before, is now present in the toolbar. I have my 'snip tree view ( CFeclipse snippets ) and Aptana's FTP and "File" views are available.

My default workbench, or 'Perspective', is a combination of CFeclipse and Aptana tool panels, or 'Views'. Eclipse outperforms all others in terms of the flexibility of the screen layout. Open a few files and try dragging the little tab handles around to see what I mean. Endless options to split panes, columns, windows, etc. This is a HUGE boost to my productivity and one of the main reasons I feel totally stifled in any other program or editor.

6) Make a new CFML Project.

As a test, go to new > project. Then go to CFEclipse > CFML Project.

I was actually still in the Aptana perspective - Eclipse asks me if I want to switch to the CFEclipse Perspective. Why, yes I do, thanks very much.

Note: In Eclipse, a 'perspective' is like a 'workspace layout' in DreamWeaver or other programs. It is a saved combination of visible, minimized and hidden tools, options, palettes, etc. - like the way Photoshop saves where you put your tools and which windows you have open. You can switch between perspectives at any point, even keeping the same files open.

Going to File > New > CFML Page, I make a temp.cfm page for testing. At this stage I am seeing auto-complete of cf tags, right click option to 'open/create file' when right clicking a cfinclude tag, and other nifty CF-related stuff. Cool.

7) Enable Line Numbering

Previously there were a few hoops to jump through to get line numbers to show up on CFM / CFEclipse files. In this case I just right clicked on the left gutter and saw ' enable line numbers', which I clicked... and which worked perfectly. Yay.

8) Get the Eclipse stuff for CF from Adobe.

Go here: http://livedocs.adobe.com/coldfusion/8/htmldocs/help.html?content=othertechnologies_11.html and follow the instructions. ( I sure hope these work with the new versions of Eclipse and CFEclipse! )

The instructions require that you first download the zip file, and then, like 2 above, use the built-in updates feature in Eclipse to browse to the update site (in this case, the downloaded zip file).

Again, the instructions are a little outdated for 3.5. Just be sure you click the 'archive' button which will let you select a zip file, rather than a folder.

Here's the download page: http://www.adobe.com/support/coldfusion/downloads.html#cfdevtools

Once you point Eclipse to the zip, it will do the rest and then ask you to restart. Go ahead and do this. Also see the "ColdFusion Help Files for Eclipse", which requires a .jar file to be copied manually into your Eclipse 'plugins' folder.

9) Get to work!

There is a ton more to know about Eclipse, but this is all that is required for installation of the powerhouse that is Eclipse + Aptana + CFEclipse. Time to put it to use and see what-all is onboard in these new versions!

Thanks to everybody who works so hard to keep updating and improving these excellent tools. I certainly could not do what I do as well, or as quickly, without them!

In general, Eclipse is full of surprises - keyboard shortcuts and specified 'views' not least among them. Explore the options, and check out the plentiful load o' stuff under "Window > Preferences".

For some great time-saving Eclipse/CFeclipse tips and tricks, also see http://blog.mxunit.org/search/label/eclipse

If you have more to add to this post please do, in the comments! As usual I am making this up as I go along, and would love to hear from other Eclipse/Aptana/CFeclipse users.