Is Eclipse plugin development experience a specialist skill?
July 3, 2007
Is Eclipse plugin development experience a specialist skill? I’ve been asking myself this question recently, as here at Cape Clear Software we are recruiting for a senior engineering position on the Eclipse-based (Jolt award winning) Cape Clear Studio team (based in Dublin, Ireland, if you’re interested). I first started learning Eclipse plugin development about four years ago, having been an Eclipse (Java) IDE user for some time before that. I made a deliberate decision to add this development feather to my cap, as I had always been interested in tool development and I saw Eclipse becoming the dominant platform for this. Coupled with that it is one of the most interesting and challenging development environments I’ve worked in. Four years ago there was very little in the way of documentation, articles or books on the platform, so the learning curve was quite steep. Today, things are considerably better, although part of the challenge is the requirement to understand a broad spectrum of APIs – frequently by stepping through their code in the debugger. And that is also part of the pleasure of working with the SDK, that you can step through the code! I think experience in Eclipse plugin development is particularly worthwhile to have. If you are a Java developer, probably already quite comfortable with JavaEE technologies, maybe you’ve done some rich-client work with Swing – IMO, Eclipse is a really super platform on which to broaden and deepen your development skills. Think of it this way, Eclipse is to enterprise tools, as Java, JavaEE and the myriad of Java-based technologies and open source components are to enterprise software in general. When I was in college I always wanted to work on development tools – I just loved Borlands Turbo Pascal and Turbo C products – but the opportunities were pretty much non-existent outside of certain geographical areas. Eclipse has changed that. Now – fifteen years later – I have that job.