Configuring Java EE Modules

Java EE Module Configuration Editors for Eclipse?

Jessica Thornsby

“Discovering configuration will be as simple as clicking around the UI.”

Java EE Module Configuration Editors
is a newly-proposed
Eclipse project that looks to take the pain out of configuring Java
EE modules, with functionality for moving between different
versions of the specifications, and moving configuration between
XML and Java annotation forms. The editors will be built using the
existing Sapphire project, and editors for Web, EAR and EJB modules
are planned in time for next year’s Eclipse Simultaneous Release.
In this interview, we find out more about this proposed Eclipse
project, from Oracle’s Konstantin Komissarchik.

JAXenter: Java EE Module Configuration Editors
was recently proposed as a new Eclipse project. Can you give us an
introduction to this project?

Konstantin Komissarchik: The goal for the
proposed project is to build editors for Java EE module
configuration files, such as application.xml, web.xml and
ejb-jar.xml. This project will be a sub-project of Eclipse Java EE
Tools project.

JAXenter: What are the current challenges you
believe developers face, when it comes to configuring Java EE

Konstantin: Configuring any system using a text
editor, an XML schema and some online docs is unnecessarily
difficult. Discovering configuration facilities is hard for novice
developers and even experts resort to searching online for
configuration samples. Few developers are able to write the
necessary configuration structures from memory, even when aided by
XML schema content assist.

The proposed editors will present configuration in an easy to
navigate content outline, using descriptive field labels and
paragraph where necessary. Discovering configuration will be as
simple as clicking around the UI. Validation and content
assistance, beyond simple XML Schema facilities will be provided.
Help will be made available at field level.

Recent versions of Java EE have made an attempt at making
configuration easier by starting to shift the configuration to Java
annotation, but that architecture has introduced its own set of
problems. In a large app, it is next to impossible to get the
understanding of the entirety of a module’s configuration as it is
spread out across many files, some of which may be packaged inside
third-party libraries.

The proposed editors will display all of the configuration in a
single merged view, whether it comes from the XML configuration
file or annotations. The developer will be able to edit either
variant from the same UI.

To make matters even worse, developers have to deal with
different versions of the Java EE spec and concurrent use of XML
configuration files and Java annotations.

The proposed editors will make it easy to switch spec versions
and include facilities for moving configuration back-and-forth
between XML and Java annotation forms.

JAXenter: What is the relationship between Java
EE Module Configuration Editors, and the Sapphire project?

Konstantin: The proposed editors will be built
using Sapphire. One of the goals for this project is to promote the
use of Sapphire at Eclipse by showing its capabilities in a real
world scenario.

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