Running nightly Eclipse for the impatient

 

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If you’re an Eclipse developer, you might consider running a nightly version of Eclipse so that you can easily test out the latest patches. Bleeding edge is the cool stuff right? It’s actually surprisingly quite stable.

The advantage of this setup is that you won’t have to re-download a new version and re-download all the plugins over and over. You just configure the thing once and just click on ‘check for updates’ once in a while.

The setup is a little bit counter intuitive. This article is not just ‘follow these steps’, but more about understanding the mechanism and workflow.

My Experience with using nightly for 4 months

Eclipse doesn’t actually auto-update on it’s own. You manually trigger an update by going to help->check for updates. So you never really have the situation where one day Eclipse randomly stops working.
I don’t update my eclipse every day actually. Perhaps only once every 2-3 weeks or when I want run the latest patch. I’ve never had Eclipse break on me during the process, but never the less I tend to backup my Eclipse before every update via a bash script.

Pre-requisite: Understanding update sites

Instead of re-downloading eclipse each time, you can simply configure it to pull it’s packages from update sites. There are different update sites for different parts of Eclipse.

The list of core update sites can be found via:
Google: “Eclipse update sites” ->
https://wiki.eclipse.org/Eclipse_Project_Update_Sites

Types of update sites

There are two important update sites that you have to be aware of. “Update” and “Release”.
Update” contains core Eclipse components, ex platform.ui. Ex:
http://download.eclipse.org/eclipse/updates/4.7-N-builds/

Release” contains additional plugins like mylyn, etc..
http://download.eclipse.org/releases/neon/

But there are others, CDT, Orbit etc.. You can often find them by googling “PLUGIN-NAME update site”.

Which update sites to pick for ‘nighties’?

In general when you develop version N+1 (where N+1 is not released yet), you point to update sites of N, (because N+1 repositories are not released yet, or they contain milestone builds like R1, R2, R3, but not the nightlies). Once N+1 is released, it becomes N and you change your update sites accordingly.

For example, I currently work on Oxygen, but I’m pointing my update sites to pull from ‘Neon’ (where Neon is older than Oxygen, N < O).

Setup

Now you’re ready to roll. You can install your desired plugins (ex mylyn, SWT Tools, git integration etc.)

To update this business, make a backup of your downloaded Eclipse (and maybe workspace), go to help -> check for updates.

If you have questions / feedback / suggestions, please post comments.

For more details on update, check out Vogella:
http://www.vogella.com/tutorials/Eclipse/article.html#updates-and-installation-of-plug-ins

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