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Setting up a web development environment with Eclipse

Installing the required Eclipse plugins

To set up a web development environment with Eclipse, first we need the Eclipse Web Tools Platform plugins. They provide the basic functionality for static and dynamic web projects, like html editors, support for servlet, JSP and EJB development, Web Service development etc. They also provide support to integrate commonly used application servers / web containers, such as Apache Tomcat, Oracle WebLogic, JBoss and a few more. For some of the newer versions of these application servers, however, additional plugins are necessary which are provided by the application server vendors. This is for example true for Oracle Weblogic where the OEPE (Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse) provides support up to WebLogic 12c, but also for JBoss where a community project exists to support the latest server versions.

The latest release of the WTP is 3.4 which can be used with Eclipse 3.8 / 4.2. For the remaining article, I am using WTP 3.3 since I am currently using Eclipse 3.7.2. For additional information about the WTP versions, see wiki.eclipse.org/WTP_FAQ and also check out the WTP FAQ at wiki.eclipse.org/WTP_FAQ. To install the WTP, either use the update URL download.eclipse.org/webtools/repository/indigo to install the required plugins, or download Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers from www.eclipse.org/downloads/ which already contains the WTP plugins.

The second infrastructure part which we need is an application server. When only developing simple web projects without the need for further infrastructure such as EJBs and other J2EE APIs, Apache Tomcat is sufficient as a web container to do Servlet and JSP development. If more J2EE functionality like database persistence, EJBs etc. is required, then we would use a real application server like Oracle WebLogic or JBoss. The latest Oracle WebLogic server 12c can be downloaded from www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/weblogic/downloads/index.html, JBoss can be downloaded from www.jboss.org/jbossas/downloads/ and Apache Tomcat can be downloaded from tomcat.apache.org/download-70.cgi. There are quite some more application servers available, like Glassfish, the Oracle/SUN J2EE reference implementation. For now, this article focuses on WebLogic, JBoss and Tomcat to have three quite different examples of Application Servers which are used in different domains:

  • Oracle WebLogic is an enterprise style, commercially available application server which is used in many huge scale enterprise applications
  • JBoss is also a complete, but Open Source J2EE application server which is also used in many web applications
  • Tomcat is a pure web container / Servlet engine which is also used in many web applications

This link gives some statistics about the usage of different application servers: blog.newrelic.com/2012/01/10/infographic-oss-java-wins-in-the-cloud-era/, however be careful with such statistics, since it largely depends on the actual environment where the systems are deployed. Oracle WebLogic is, for example, typically deployed in very large enterprise software installations, and often used in intranet applications which might not count in the above statistics.

The next sections show how to install the different application servers. For more information, see the respective application server documents.