03 May 2010

JavaFX Support In Eclipse

Exadel are developing the JavaFX plugin for Eclipse which covers JavaFX 1.2 but not 1.3. Previously Sun were developing the plugin which covered JavaFX 1.2, however they had limited resources at the time which meant the community had to pitch in. For this post I will be covering version 1.2.4 of the Exadel JavaFX plugin.

Installation of the plugin proved to be very difficult due to navigating a confusing website in order to obtain the right one. The first one I had downloaded refused to install in Eclipse (no proper explanation given), it wasn't until I had used the other version that I finally had a successful install. An additional concern is that the installation/uninstallation of the plugin is very slow. After the installation no default JavaFX SDK had been picked up which is a bit of a minor annoyance.

With the JavaFX preferences there are some options for source code formatting and the editor. At the moment it is not possible to debug a JavaFX project due to the missing toggle breakpoint feature. No automatic formatting option is available for JavaFX source files. Code completion is extremely limited at the moment. Only JavaFX keywords and script level variables/constants/functions (defined by the developer) will be picked up in the editor. Move and rename refactorings do not work properly for classes and packages. Strangely there is no delete refactoring option available.

Full syntax highlighting is provided. Errors in a JavaFX source file will only be picked up once the file is saved. This can really slow you down which highlights the need for real time error checking as you type. Plenty of JavaFX snippets are available for use in a JavaFX source file. Even better is the fact that you can easily add your own. When you create a new JavaFX source file you have the option to generate some JavaFX Script from some templates (CustomNode, Stage, Shapes, Scene), which is a nice touch when you need something created quickly (eg a panel for a screen).

Overall Exadel have much work to do in order to bring the plugin up to scratch on the basics. Proper code completion is needed as well as breakpoint support for debugging. Also installation of the JavaFX plugin needs to be easier and much quicker to install/uninstall. If possible Exadel needs to implement real time error checking for JavaFX source files.

Update: Exadel have released version 1.3 of the plugin which supports JavaFX 1.3. For an easy way to install/update the JavaFX plugin add the stable plugin site in Available Software Sites (inside the Preferences window).

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