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Discovering Mars

The Top 10 new features of Eclipse Mars

JAX Editorial Team
Mars image via Shutterstock

It’s that time again – the next version of the Eclipse platform will be released this week. On June 24, Eclipse “Mars” will ship, combining 79 projects that have coordinated their updates for Platform 4.5. What can we expect?

It’s impossible, with the ever-growing number of Eclipse projects – on top of a new record being set in comparison to the previous release train for “Luna” – to list all the new features in Eclipse’s latest offering. Therefore, we single out 10 points to justify our overall opinion of Eclipse’s newest edition, Mars.

1. Stability, robustness, performance – these are the keywords that you’ll hear the most when Eclipse insiders are asked about the new features of the platform. “Eclipse 4.5 is the fastest Eclipse 4.x release,” Lars Vogel and Simon Scholz write in Eclipse Magazine. Be it the parallelisation of text search, the greater default Java heap, the faster code completion or efficient SWT rendering – in many areas within the platform, code has been optimised to deliver better overall starting and response times. Eclipse’s previous performance issues are likely to be a thing of the past with Mars.

2. A new Eclipse Installer simplifies the setup of Eclipse working environments significantly. The Installation Wizard is super easy and allows you to select the desired program packages, versions, JVMs and installation directories. Project Oomph can be setup to even automate and reproduce identical workspaces so that left and right keys are possible.

SEE ALSO: 5 useful hidden Eclipse features

3. The Java 8 Support in the Java Development Tools (JDT) has been further refined. Quick fixes for generating lambda expressions of methods references, an optimised zero check-flow analysis and better compiler performance are among the improvements. A new formatter API can specifically influence the formatting of source code.

4. When it comes to JavaScript support, Eclipse lagged behind in the past. Eclipse Mars finally sees them catching up, with the team from Eclipse-based JBoss Tools at Red Hat bug fixing and performance tuning in the JSDT (JavaScript Development Tools). Project leader Max Rydahl Andersen reported this as merely the first step: in the first Eclipse-service release a new parser will follow, which will include the (still lacking) support for ECMAScript 5.

5. Red Hat has also promoted a new Docker UI, which makes it possible to build Docker images and containers to stop and start without having to seek the Docker CLI. Andersen explains how this works:

You can use the Docker tooling for basic administrative tasks, but we have as a goal that by making the Eclipse IDE aware of Docker images and containers, other Eclipse plugins can integrate the user of Docker much more closely.

For example, there is a prototype using our Docker tooling to launch and build Eclipse CDT projects on a Docker container instead of only the local machine. This opens up for users to target a mix of native systems for their desktop OS of choice. i.e. a Fedora user can more easily cross-compile and test to, lets say Ubuntu, but even going wider, an Apple OS X user can be building native applications for Red Hat Linux this way.

6. Eclipse Mars goes the way towards Git now more than ever. Almost all download packages integrate with Git charged to the former CVS. In addition, there are numerous extensions in projects such as EGit, JGit: hook support, import changed projects, extended stash support, etc.

7. Automated Error Reporting: Bugs in the IDE are automatically sent from Mars to eclipse.org where they can be processed and converted into Bugzilla entries. It’s based on a rather unique concept of troubleshooting through crowdsourcing, rather than relying on the commitment of a few.

8. Eclipse Marketplace: Until now, different versions of plug-ins listed on the Eclipse Marketplace were done so separately. These multiple search responses have been omitted in favour of a Eclipse Mars version-dependent display of plug-ins. Moreover, a distinction between necessary and optional components is made, making the Marketplace a whole lot easier to use.

9. In the popular Xtext project, whitespace sensitive languages ​​are now supported, such as using Python indentation instead of clamps for block-marking. There’s also news from the programming language Xtend, being that Java source code can now be used in Eclipse to automatically convert Xtend.

10. Maven integration: The M2e project has undergone some useful improvements, such as an automatic update mechanism. Manual updates to the project configuration after an “Out of Date Project” warning are now a thing of the past.

Conclusion

Of course there are numerous other individual projects which may in turn come with new features – everyone will want to explore further to find their favourite feature. Check out the Eclipse Mars project list for a great overview of each project.

Eclipse Mars, in our opinion, isn’t a release that lands with a big bang. The focus on stability and performance, as well as its wealth of useful extensions, still make it a must for any Eclipse users. It’s gratifying that the Eclipse platform is again receiving the attention it deserves. Despite the increasing independence of many Eclipse Foundation projects from the platform, this is still the highlight of all past and future successes of Eclipse.

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