Since I've been working on and with Component Designer for the last couple of years, I sometimes forget what we've done here. I've looked at a lot of IDE's and none of them were this "friendly" to work with, especially those in the open source or Java worlds - plus, Designer has all the power that developers expect. Now that it's built on pure Eclipse 3.2, you can work at a lower level if you want or need to do that, simply by changing perspectives in Eclipse.
Here's what it looks like now, as I was going thru the tutorial.
(Click to open a larger image in a new window.)
Here are some random interesting features in this release:
o Install will lay down Eclipse 3.2 for you, or you can install it into your existing version.
o A lot of JSF based IDEs assume you really want to know about all that J2EE gorp - Designer doesn't and won't show it to you. However, you CAN have access to the page source code now, which is JSF markup, but almost like working with HTML markup. Handy for tweaking things directly in the code instead of looking thru all the property panels. You can also do things like find and replace - it's just text, after all!
o Designer has a built-in database structure that automatically gets deployed to your choice of DB when you deploy the component. The Designer datastore is a document db and handles security (to the document level), metadata, and optimizations around view queries. View Queries are cool because while it stores a document as XML, there are also tables that only deal with the view query. So, for instance, if you have a large document with many XML elements, you may only want to display 3 columns in your view. That way, Designer only needs to index and store those 3 columns for the view display. It keeps everything in synch as you add, modify, or delete documents.
o In this release, View Queries are re-usable. This keeps the size of the db to a minimum. View Queries are akin to defining the selection of documents and some calculations on the columns in that view (a column "formula").
o In addition to the built-in document database, you can access "external data", meaning existing databases, Domino, XML, and web services. I personally think the XML data source is going to be popular because you can simply point it at any XML by file or URL and then easily bind it to the form for viewing. More on data sources in a future post.
o Here's an example of how being built on Eclipse opens up some possibilities. You can right-click on a file and have access to whatever plugins are on your system. In this case, I am showing the History feature, so you can see how the file had changed over time. The source code you see their is the Designer JSF, aka XSP.
I could go on and on, but I'll save some of that for future posts, you'll have to try it yourself. The download can't be more than 400M for the whole thing.Link to downloads