A number of my Windows readers have written to ask me about the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Part of the problem stems from the many versions of Eclipse. You can find a version of Eclipse for nearly any language out there. At least, it seems like there is a special version. What you really get is a plug-in for Eclipse Standard edition. Yes, if you’re working with C++, then getting the Eclipse IDE for C/C++ Developers makes sense. However, since I work with a lot of different languages, I simply download the standard edition and then tweak it as needed with the required plug-ins. The reality is that Eclipse is incredibly flexible.
When working with my books, all you need is the standard edition unless I specifically state otherwise in the book. Using one of the special editions can make Eclipse a little more difficult to use and that’s something you really don’t need when you’re just starting out with a new language. In addition, unless my book specifically says otherwise, you don’t need to download any of the plug-ins. All of the plug-ins are there to extend the functionality of Eclipse, which is nice when you need it, but potentially confusing when you don’t.
After you have selected the flavor of Eclipse that you want by clicking its link, you’ll find that Eclipse typically comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Windows, Mac OS/X, and Linux developers. If you’re using a 64-bit version of Windows, you’ll want to download a 64-bit version of Eclipse to ensure you can make maximum use of the operating system features.
Selecting a platform displays another page where you select the site you want to use for downloading the product. Generally speaking, choosing one of the mirror sites will provide greater download speed than the main site, but your experience will likely vary from mine. What you get is a .ZIP file containing Eclipse. Of course, most Windows users are used to getting an executable of some sort with a complete installation program. All you really need to do is extract the Eclipse files anywhere on your hard drive to use it. I normally place Eclipse in its own folder off the main directory so that I don’t run into read/write permission problems inherent in putting it in the \Program Files folder.
At this point, you can start using Eclipse. That might seem odd, but there really isn’t anything more you need to do. Of course, opening Eclipse by finding its location in Windows Explorer every time you want to use it is a pain. Use these steps to make things easier.
- Right click the Eclipse.exe file in the host directory and choose Copy from the context menu.
- Right click Start | All Programs and choose Open from the context menu. You’ll see a copy of Windows Explorer open that has the appropriate folder selected.
- Select the Programs folder in the left pane to open it.
- Create a folder for Eclipse and open it.
- Right click anywhere in the Eclipse folder and choose Paste as Shortcut from the context menu. You now have an easy way to access Eclipse from the Start menu.
- (Optional) Rename the shortcut to something that’s a bit easier to read, like Eclipse.
At this point, you can right click the Eclipse entry and choose Pin to Taskbar from the context menu to make it even easier to access. However, that’s really all there is to installing Eclipse. Removal is even easier—just delete the shortcuts you’ve created, along with the Eclipse folder. Let me know if you encounter any problems getting Eclipse on your system at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.