ColdFusion Builder is here and it's finally shaping up into a great IDE.  However, you need to know a few things before you jump right in if you've never used an Eclipse Platform IDE.  If you have then your way ahead of a lot of people.

ColdFusion Builder is built on the Eclipse Platform (version 3.4 at the time of writing this article) which had it's start internally at IBM. In addition ColdFusion Builder incorporates Aptana which is a full featured IDE that has most everything you need for web programming except a CFML editor and hooks to ColdFusion servers.  Adobe worked with Aptana to use their customized Eclipse based IDE to make ColdFusion Builder.

Getting Installed

New to Eclipse base IDE's? You're not alone. I was new to the Eclipse IDE's a few years ago and found it to be a different way of doing things as compared to my favorite editor, ColdFusion Studio.  There is a big learning curve, but do not let this scare you.  Once you learn the basics of the Eclipse platform you will find there is power under the hood.  In addition you get a universal programming IDE that supports dozens of languages by simply installing a plugin.

This is not meant to be a complete tutorial in Eclipse or ColdFusion Builder, it's just meant to help you get going in the right direction and point you to some helpful resources for learning Eclipse based IDE's.  A few top notch bloggers such as Ben Forta and Charlie Arehart have already published Getting Started articles.  I'll try not to duplicate those, but both are also great resources for getting started if you've never used the Eclipse Platform.

I am not an Eclipse expert. I was dragged over kicking and screaming from ColdFusion Studio about two ears ago to CFEclipse. So I feel your pain if you've never used an Eclipse IDE.  In fact back then I was posting in various forums about how I would never switch over from CF Studio. The issue was that a lot of my favorite basic features were missing. Today this is not the case, well almost.  However, there are many more new tools and features available with the Eclipse platform to help make up for a few missing items. I won't complain too much about those missing features.  I'll just file enhancement requests.

So first of all if your not running an Eclipse installation then just install ColdFusion Builder in standalone mode. If you're leery of Beta's and already have an Eclipse installation then go ahead and install ColdFusion Builder in standalone mode. You can safely have multiple Eclipse based editors installed on the same computer at the same time. Each install is encapsulated in it's own folders and it's own workspace. If your already using Eclipse 3.4 and do not have CFEclipse installed then you can install ColdFusion Builder as a plugin to your existing 3.4 version. Since Eclipse 3.5 is out and those of use using Eclipse most likely upgraded you'll still be installing as standalone. 

Now start up ColdFusion Builder.

Getting Projects

The next thing you absolutely must get used to is working in projects. I hated this thought. I just wanted to open my files and edit. The way projects were implemented in ColdFusion Studio was poor compared to Eclipse. In ColdFusion Builder there is a Navigation Tab. This is your projects workspace. Right click and choose 'New > ColdFusion Project' and follow the steps. You'll be asked to create a new project space. However, you can just point that at your existing code for a website and make your project there. (I'm assuming your coding on your local computer and not on your live server.  If not, start coding locally then publishing to production. Just a little tip.) Now all of your code is instantly in your project. From there the Navigation Tab is just like any file viewer. You navigate your folders and files and open whatever you want to edit. So go ahead and create a new ColdFusion Project from existing code.

I have a few dozen projects set up, one for each website I work on. I also have a project just for just scrap or test code. This method of doing projects made me like projects. Plus, with SVN integration managing shared projects becomes easy. More on SVN later. Also, once you have all your code in projects you can turn off projects your not working with and help boost the performance of ColdFusion Builder (any Eclipse based IDE really) since it does not have to worry about those projects when it refreshes the workspace.

Getting Plugged In

To maximize your productivity you'll want to explore the hundreds of third party Eclipse Plugins. These will work with ColdFusion Builder. Some of these are for SVN integration and other languages such as C/C+, Java, php (we don't use that right?), PERL, Bash Shell scripting and so much more. See the Eclipse site to learn more about plugins.

Eclipse has a built in installation tool for getting and updating plugins. Most creators of plugins have Update Sites for their plugin which you simply configure ColdFusion Builder to use.

For ColdFusion Builder in standalone mode you will need to do one thing first before installing third party plugins.  The following steps are copied straight from the fine documentation provided by Adobe.  (Btw, the following steps are pretty much the same steps you take to install any ColdFusion Builder or Eclipse plugin. Just substitute your plugin of choice in step 5.)

Install third-party Eclipse plug-ins

ColdFusion Builder provides integration with third-party Eclipse plug-ins that let you extend or customize your development environment.

  1. In Adobe ColdFusion Builder, select Help > Software Updates > Find And Install.
  2. Select Search For New Features To Install.
  3. Click Add Site.
  4. Click New Remote Site.
  5. Enter the name and URL of the plug-in to install. For example, to install Subclipse version 1.0, enter the following URL: http://subclipse.tigris.org/update_1.0.x (visit the Sublipse website to get the correct update site url)

          Note: When you install a third-party Eclipse plug-in to a standalone ColdFusion Builder installation, to ensure that the plug-in installs correctly, add the Ganymede Update Site URL http://download.eclipse.org/releases/ganymede (or an equivalent Eclipse update site URL).
  6. Select the plug-ins and click Install.
  7. Click Next and follow the instructions in the Install wizard. If you are prompted to select mirrors for the installed plug-in, select a mirror from the list of mirrors. The mirrors are listed by geographic locations. You can select a mirror nearest to your geographic location.

          Note: The required plug-ins are automatically selected from the Ganymede Update site. If you see an error message about a missing required plug-in, select the appropriate plug-ins.
  8. Click Finish.

One of the nice things about ColdFusion Builder is that it includes so much to start with that there are really very few extra plugins that I need. My preferred plugins are Subclipse for SVN access and Mylin bridge integration. (There are many sources on the internet to accurately describe and learn about Mylin so I won't even try.) I also do a fair amount of PERL and Bash Shell scripting. So I use the EPIC Perl and Shell ED plugins.

This should have you sitting with a brand new shiny ColdFusion Builder installation with SVN integration and your code integrated into projects.

Getting SVN

Since many more of us are using Subversion I'll briefly go into the Subclipse plugin. If you already had code checked out chances are when you created your project(s) above you pointed the project at your SVN checkout. Now that you have Subclipse installed you simply need to right click on that project and choose “Team > Share Project” Subclipse will instantly notice your hidden .svn files and alert you that the project is already shared and ask you if you want to connect your project to the Subversion Repository.  Just say Yes.  In a few seconds or minutes depending on the amount of code checked out, you'll see your project has SVN Icons indication the state of files and folders.  You now have access to checkout, update and commit code. In addition you have built in file version compare, SVN history, SVN console to monitor your SVN commands and responses, revision annotation, blame, branching, tagging and pretty much all the rest of your Subversion controls.

Conclusion

At this point you should be ready to start working.  If you've never used an Eclipse based IDE I really suggest visiting the Eclipse.org web site and watching their videos.  I managed to muddle my way through without the videos so odds are you can too, but the videos will make the process go faster.