How about a FREE set of WebSphere and Spring Eclipse Development Tools?


Lately I’ve been working quite a bit on expanding the classes available in our Spring 3.0 category.  One of the things that has always set our Spring training apart is that we offer options to develop Spring applications for WebSphere (in addition to other classes that use JBoss or Tomcat).  Spring has been a very popular framework and WebSphere a very popular server so it has always been a popular choice for our clients.

In the past, the downside has always been that WebSphere development required Rational Application Developer (RAD).  Doing Spring development in RAD was never a great fit since you couldn’t use the Spring Eclipse plug-ins that were available from SpringSource.  You also had some choices from MyEclipse for WebSphere and Spring tools but those weren’t free.  Now recently, IBM released FREE Eclipse tools so you can control and deploy to a WebSphere server directly from Eclipse, something that used to require RAD.  I’ve blogged about that before but that was without Spring tools.

So while developing our Spring 3.0 classes for WebSphere I wanted to take a fresh look at what would be the best environment for this.  The contenders would be:

  1. RAD without installing Spring tools
  2. MyEclipse Bling (WebSphere “Blue” tools and Spring)
  3. RAD with Spring tools added
  4. Eclipse with WebSphere and Spring tools installed

Read the rest to see the “Winner” and how to set it up!

Option #1 – RAD without installing Spring tools – Obviously, between the cost of RAD and the fact that there would be no Spring-specific tools, this is the least desirable.  Let’s look for alternatives.

Option #2 – MyEclipse Bling – I’ll admit that since MyEclipse Bling is not free I haven’t really worked with it much.  But typically MyEclipse simply combines other plug-ins that are freely available, adds a few extra bells and whistles, and charges a modest yearly subscription.  Although things like the mobile tools in MyEclipse Bling look interesting, let’s keep looking.

Option #3 – RAD with Spring tools added – Now one argument could be “we have already ‘paid’ for RAD so is it possible to just add the Spring tools to it?”  Unfortunately I believe the answer is no.  The problem is that the way you install and update RAD and the various plug-ins it adds to Eclipse is different than the way you would install the Spring Eclipse plug-ins.  This is also a combination that is not tested or supported by anyone so that alone will turn people off.  I had tried installing Spring tools into Eclipse first and then installing RAD to extend that Eclipse installation and it wouldn’t seem to work.  So we have to keep looking.

Option #4 – Eclipse with WebSphere and Spring tools installed – This is the only COMPLETELY FREE option in the list.  I also have to say that it is also pretty easy to setup.  You are just using the normal Eclipse plug-in installation.  About the only trick is knowing which Eclipse version to start with that will be compatible with all the tools.  So let’s take a look at how to do this.

Installing Spring and WebSphere Tools into Eclipse

Although the versions and compatibility of everything is always changing, when I looked to do this a few weeks ago the version of Eclipse you would start with is the Eclipse Indigo for Java EE SR2 version. You can get this from here:

http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/packages/eclipse-ide-java-ee-developers/indigosr2

All you have to do is unzip this on a system that has Java installed since we will need to run Eclipse to do the installation of the other tools.

  • Once you are running Eclipse in any workspace, select Help → Eclipse Marketplace.
  • On the dialog that appears, leave Eclipse Marketplace selected and click the Next button.
  • On the Search tab that appears, fill in ‘STS‘ into the box and click the Find button.

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  • Find the entry for ‘Spring Tool Suite for Eclipse Indigo (3.7)‘ and click the Install button next to it. Make sure to choose the correct entry as there are several similar ones. Eclipse will likely take several minutes downloading the required settings before displaying the next screen.

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  • Leave the option to install all Spring tools selected (or only the ones you want) and click the Next button.

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  • Accept the license terms and click the Finish button. Eclipse will take several minutes downloading and installing software.
  • If prompted about installing unsigned content click the OK button to continue the installation.
  • Once the installation of updates is complete, click the Restart Now button and open Eclipse in the same workspace.
  • From the running Eclipse, again select Help → Eclipse Marketplace.
  • If needed, leave Eclipse Marketplace selected and click the Next button.
  • On the Search tab that appears, fill in ‘WebSphere V8.0‘ into the box (or the WebSphere version you want to add support for) and click the Find button.  Note that the free Eclipse tools for WebSphere are only available for WebSphere 7.0 and later.

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  • Find the entry for ‘IBM WebSphere Application Server v8.0 Developer Tools‘ and click the Install button next to it. Make sure to choose the correct entry as there are several similar ones. Make sure NOT to select the ‘Beta’ version that may be available.

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  • When presented with the option of which tools to install, select the tools you want to install and click the Next button.
  • Accept the license terms and click the Finish button.
  • If prompted about installing unsigned content click the OK button to continue the installation.
  • Once the installation of updates is complete, click the Restart Now button.
  • When prompted, open to the same workspace as before.  This will finish the installation process.
  • After Eclipse opens, exit from Eclipse.

Other Things to Do

Installing the WebSphere Eclipse tools DOES NOT install a WebSphere runtime server for testing.  You will want to install most likely the ‘WebSphere Application Server for Developers’ edition.  This is a COMPLETELY FREE WebSphere server you could use for a test server in Eclipse.  More complete details about how to get this and set it up with Eclipse will be the same as the steps toward the end of this blog post.

It is also very common to use Maven to manage the dependencies of a Spring application.  There are Maven tools for Eclipse also so this might be another thing to install.  Probably the best way to do this is to use the ‘Maven Integration for Eclipse’ which can also be installed from the Eclipse Marketplace.  This is the “official” Maven support that has become the ‘m2e’ Eclipse project.

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