JavaScript, Linux IDE

By Jeff Cogswell  |  Posted 2010-07-13 Print this article Print



I was particularly excited to try out the new JavaScript IDE features, but I was disappointed to find that the feature I most sought-debugging of JavaScript code running in a browser-wasn't quite ready. The Eclipse subproject behind this feature, the JavaScript Development Tools group, didn't finish work on the browser-connected JavaScript debugging feature in time for the 3.6 release.

However, Eclipse now boasts several worthwhile features relating to the popular language, including JavaScript project types and under-the-hood components for parsing existing JavaScript libraries and for listing library classes and types in the Eclipse Project Explorer. What's more, the Project Explorer can parse out namespace formats that mimic the Java naming approach (such as dojo.Color.prototype).

As for the JavaScript debugging that I'm looking for, it looks like when the project is ready it's going to be fantastic. The team is working to make the debugger connect to Firefox using a connector that the developers of the popular Firebug add-on are working on. Once that's released, I'm sure I'm going to be sold on it, because I certainly dream of a good IDE for client-side Web development that supports full debugging.

At present, however, what does work is full integration with the Rhino JavaScript engine. Rhino is written in Java, and it's not used in Firefox (even though it's controlled by the Mozilla Foundation). You can set breakpoints, step through code-all that good stuff you'd expect in a debugger. But it only works with Rhino. So, again, right now you can't really use Eclipse to debug JavaScript code running in a browser, even though the fanfare surrounding the new release could lead you to think otherwise. But don't lose hope: It will happen. Just not yet. (There are, in the meanwhile, alternatives; Aptana Studio is one, which, interestingly enough, is actually built on the Eclipse source code.)

Linux IDE

New in Eclipse 3.6 for Linux users is a set of tools that help with C/C++ development. These are developed under an Eclipse project called Linux Tools. The first release, Version 0.1, came out in early 2009. Version 0.6, the most recent release, is included in the Linux C/C++ edition of Eclipse Helios.

The updates in Version 0.6 include various development tools such as SystemTap integration (for instrumenting production Linux systems), Autotools (the GNU build system), Libhover to provide hover-help in the IDE, ChangeLog, OProfile (a profiler for Linux), Valgrind (a set of tools for debugging and profiling), GProf (the GNU profiler), and LTTng (for tracing).

I expect that Linux-centric users of Eclipse will also appreciate Eclipse 3.6's new support for Git, the version control system that Linus Torvalds built for use with the Linux kernel project, as a source code control option in Eclipse.

Jeff Cogswell is the author of Designing Highly Useable Software ( among other books and is the owner/operator of CogsMedia Training and Consulting.Currently Jeff is a senior editor with Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to joining Ziff, he spent about 15 years as a software engineer, working on Windows and Unix systems, mastering C++, PHP, and ASP.NET development. He has written over a dozen books.

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