Humour me if you're an Eclipse expert already, but I've been taking my time about getting familiar with it. I tried the compound XML document editor a little while back and was less than impressed with it's SVG editing ability. As far as I could tell it didn't even respect the encoding I specified (I couldn't change from the default to UTF-8). Maybe I missed the point of that plugin, though.
So tinkering a bit with a new project in Eclipse recently, I noticed that there's CVS support built in. I like Subversion and have a couple projects stored in Jeff's subversion repository. I love the almost seemless integration of the Tortoise SVN client into Windows Explorer. So seeing the CVS support in Eclipse got me wondering about SVN support. Sure enough, the good people at Tigris.org have an Eclipse plugin called Subclipse.
The installation instructions are very clear, but demonstrate what I don't like about Eclipse. This is standard practice for installing a plugin for that framework, I'm sure, but it's vastly different than plugins for more familiar software projects. I'm sure the steep learning curve keeps a lot of otherwise enthusiastic developers out. Subclipse developers shouldn't have to include that many screenshots to do something as run-of-the-mill as adding a plugin. Without those screenshots I would have probably given up though. Eclipse could learn something from the XPI installation method that Firefox uses.
After installing Subclipse I wasn't sure what to do next. I've only made a couple of Eclipse projects and don't have a good grasp of their terminology yet. So here's what I did figure out. The instructions say
Finally, after restarting Eclipse, the first thing you will typically want to do is open the Subclipse Repository perspective where you can define your repositories. Be sure to also check the online help as well as the Subclipse preferences located under Team -> SVN.
And have a picture of a box that I didn't know how to get to. Apparently all that's missing for the Eclipse beginner is to chose Window ⇒ Open Perspective ⇒ Other... The item "SVN Repository Exploring"in that list is obviously the perspective the instructions refer to. I'm not sure what exactly a perspective is yet, but it's apparently different from a view. The pane opens on the left side of the main window and you can right-click in the empty space then choose New ⇒ Repository Location. The ensuing dialog clearly explains what you need. One thing you might miss if you weren't paying close attention is that Subclipse connects to the Internet separately from Eclipse. That might make a difference or it might not.
Using a proxy If you use a proxy, you'll have to configure the SVN client that Subclipse relies on in order for it to get through. If you don't, skip down a bit to "Accessing your Project".
The Subclipse FAQ points to Version Control with Subversion for instructions on that. (Note there are different instructions on the JavaSVN client which I'm not using and I'd bet if you are then you don't need my help). The instructions look daunting at first, but then I realize they cover Unix and a couple methods for Windows. For a Windows XP/2000 user (as I am at the moment), it boils down to finding a configuration file in a directory like
C:\Documents and Settings\<em>username</em>\Application Data\Subversion. The username part is going to be your login name or some variation on it. And as the book notes, this is usually a hidden folder. In that folder, the configuration file is a text file with the name "servers" and no extension.
If you just have a single, simple SVN repository you want to get to (the usual case, I think), then look for the section that starts with "[global]". Once you find it, the rest should be straightforward. There's a commented-out section that looks like this:
Once the project is created, you'll want to see it, so go to the "Resource" perspective. You can find the Resource perspective on the Window menu, the same way we found the SVN Repository Explorer perspective earlier. There's also a toolbar near the top with buttons to switch perspectives once you get used to it. I see a lot more potential use for Eclipse (for me) with the Subclipse plugin. The revision history for the file being editted is available inside the tool and there seem to be more advanced features that I still haven't even looked at.
Maybe if I keep at it I can even figure out how to commit my changes back to the project ...