The AWS Toolkit for Eclipse is a plug-in that allows developers to develop and deploy software to the Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure. The plug-in provides full integration into Eclipse, offering complete control over managing remote instances, uploading code, running code remotely and even debugging remotely without leaving Eclipse.
I've done a fair amount of tinkering with cloud programming during the past
couple of years. With cloud programming, you can easily deploy a Web
application to a cluster of servers that will be distributed and managed with the
help of the cloud infrastructure. But one of the hard parts is developing the
software on your local development machines and then testing it against the
Amazon recognized this difficulty and has created a plug-in for the Eclipse IDE
called AWS (Amazon Web Services) Toolkit for Eclipse. But don't let the term "plug-in"
fool you: I went into this evaluation expecting a single little dialog box with
a few minimal features. I was pleasantly surprised to find full integration of
AWS into Eclipse, providing complete control over managing remote instances,
uploading code, running code remotely and even debugging remotely without
The AWS Toolkit for Eclipse currently supports two aspects of AWS-EC2
(Elastic Compute Cloud) management and SimpleDB management. With the EC2
management, you can configure your servers and debug remotely. With the
SimpleDB management, you can graphically define your SimpleDB domains, items
To use the AWS Toolkit, you need to be set up with an account on Amazon AWS.
Once you are, Eclipse includes a dialog box letting you enter your account
Once you have all the information entered, you're ready to go to work
creating your project. You can do the whole thing locally, creating your
servlets and testing them out against your own copy of Tomcat. When you're
ready to try it out remotely, you can configure and manage your servers without
ever leaving Eclipse. Then you can easily deploy your software to the AWS
infrastructure, run it and even debug it locally.
According to Amazon, this is just a first step. But, from what I've seen,
it's a huge first step.
Amazon officials say they're going to support more than just Tomcat in
future releases. This is definitely a good thing, considering that Tomcat is
technically a reference implementation of the Java servlet architecture and
that many people might prefer to run their software on larger application
servers hosted within the AWS infrastructure. Still, Tomcat is excellent, and
running it under AWS shouldn't pose any real problems.
AWS isn't free, but it's not very expensive, and
Eclipse, Tomcat and the AWS Toolkit for Eclipse are all free. So, if you're
eager to build a system that will be hosted in the AWS cloud, it really won't
cost you much to get it up and running. And once your cloud-based system is
running, you'll enjoy the benefits of having a Website that's backed by an
incredibly powerful cloud system. It's hard to beat that.
More information about AWS Toolkit for Eclipse can be found at aws.amazon.com/eclipse/.
The project itself is hosted on SourceForge at sourceforge.net/projects/aws-eclipse/.
Jeff Cogswell can be reached at email@example.com.
Jeff Cogswell is the author of Designing Highly Useable Software (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0782143016) 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.