Saturday, November 27, 2004

Eclipse VE

I installed and played with the Eclipse Visual Editor project yesterday. Sorry to report but I seems like a half-baked version of every other layout tools I've seen. The bad impression started last week when I initially downloaded and installed it and nothing appeared. The extension just silently didn't work. At that point I wasn't interested enough to figure out why so I just gave up. This long weekend as I was working on SaD and starting to build some dialog boxes I figured I would give VE another chance. The reason VE didn't load was because I had not installed the prerequisite project GEF and EMF. It would have been nice if there was a readme or some install instructions that called that out. Given that VE has reached a full version 1 you would expect this sort of thing to be flushed out.

Once I got VE running I was disappointed I had bothered. All I wanted to do was a simple About dialog: a couple of text labels, maybe a picture and an OK button. After twenty minutes of fumbling around I gave up. It's laudable that they want to support layouts instead of direct positioning but there was very little visual support for working with the layouts and the default choice of a BorderLayout for the dialog box just seems stupid. Granted I've yet to meet a visual editor for Java that I do like, but this wasn't even as slick as the last version of Visual Cafe I used two or three years ago. Someday it may be cool but it has a long way to go.

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