The number of features and plug-ins available for eclipse are really growing in zillions. Overwhelming part is that many have contributed very good features to open source community. Sourceforge is one of it. Initially when i started i had only Eclipse Platform, then RCP, then WTP, then ATF, … and the number is increasing day-by-day. At some point of time we always agree that installing/configuring a third party features is always cumbersome. I have had many difficulties in managing the updates and new versions.
Though its old concept, i recently found this configuration of features via links. The approach is pretty neat and straight forward. You don’t have to touch the platform or rcp configuration of eclipse at all 😉 that’s the beauty of it.
I will just take an example and explain how this works. If we want to install a feature in eclipse without disturbing the current configuration, we need to first create a directory by name “links” directly under the eclipse directory (remember this is the directory where the eclipse.exe is present).
If we have the feature from the third party in the directory “c:\example\XYZFeature”. Please remember that under XYZFeature we need to have the “eclipse” directory and under that “plugins” and “features” directories. And now you are almost there to have a clean installations.
if your feature name is com.abcCompany.xyzPlugin, then we create a file by name “com.abcCompany.xyzPlugin.link” in the link directory. Open the file in a text editor and edit it to contain “path=c:\example\XYZFeature”.
That’s it you are there. Just launch the eclipse and it will parse the link directory and the *.link files and your launch will be configured for this.
Hope this helps for some of you who are looking for it in the product development and installation. The real advantage with this approach is you don’t have to enable or disable your feature from eclipse. Just delete a *.link file and you are done.