Eclipse/App Engine/Bloog Part 4, The hard part

Well I had a long and frustrating week/week-end, all sort of run together. I discovered that my new site would not take even moderately long articles. This is apparently a “known problem” and it relates to exploding indexes, as somewhat explained here.

I finally got to corresponding with one of the Bloog Maintainers who had it turned out created a modified site search capability using Google Site Search. According to him  it still does not provide for longer article without some code mods that I have not yet started. But is a prerequisite. I got a copy from Git-hub, where Bloog is hosted. This required that I get and install GIT version control system. I chose to start with Windows based  Git Extensions. It still required that you install the basic GIT. It is only available in Tar format you will need 7zip to unpack although after a posting the developer has now provided a “full” option for Git extensions.

I then tried to apply the new code to my existing Bloog version as I had modified it. That required a differential editor,which I did not have Kdiff3 turned out to be a great choice. It compares entire directory structures and than lets you click through the files and selectively choose to apply a, b to your revised file. Very cool.

I then tried to fire things up, FAIL. I then went back to the Version I had just obtained and I could not get it to fire up either. I then started to look for “real” debug information. Not much available.

Eventually I downloaded PYdev for Eclipse, and that was a major improvement  my entire development environment. In fact I would go so far to say Do not attempt development for APP-Engine without Pydev!! It provides a much better editor, code outlining and a runtime environment. There are several tutorials on setting up Eclipse for app-engine. Use them!!! Supposedly it also provides breakpoints, but I have not been able to get that working yet, but the other improvements are a major joy. The Debug environment did give me better log messages. Through which I was eventually able to make some headway. I found out that the two versions had changed the DB schema slightly so I had to delete a few older records You can see and modify the local datastore using http://localhost:8080/_ah/admin/datastore and bang it all started to work. It actually took a long time to go through each step, and I still have to go back and learn each of the new tools much better.

A Survey of Free Software

One of the most vibrant areas of software development world is the free/open source software movement. A big reason to learn and use Freeware and Web 2.0 software is most of it is available free.

Most people think primarily of Linux when using this term but there is a much larger eco system. You have to do some research and trial and error since you won’t see a bunch of ads around (it’s free remember) Actually the “free” part is the biggest Ad.!

The movement covers most “normal” functional areas of software, from

Web 2.0 services,

  • E-mail, MSN, Gmail, Other Google services,
  • Web hosting, Blogs: WordPress.com, Blogger, others,
  • Regular web hosting, Microsoft Live. Microsoft live does not get much respect but is a very rich offering , now up to 25 GB of space and web site, automatic file backup/synchronization, blogs, picture storage, collaborative workspace and more.
  • Google app engine is so big and multifaceted I have not yet started to use it, and it’s free.

It is a bit hard to find the good and distinguish from the bad, many Google search results are pretty confusing. I generally have to poke around a bit in a regular Google search to find the host site as opposed to some fly-by-night site. You really want to “know” what you are looking for, find reviews and make sure that you are getting the “original” product. I am including links in this paper to most of the key products which I mention.

For instance I wanted to use Eclipse a major free Software development platform,. I figured I would need the Linux operating system. I downloaded and installed the Ubuntu version of Linux and configured it to “dual boot on my machine. One of it’s features is an automatic software installer, which is very cool, just click what you want and the operating system downloads and installs the software. Unfortunately, it did not work for Eclipse, I later found out that the version that Ubuntu had in it’s repositories was out of data. A direct download from the Eclipse site rand fine, in the process I also discovered that almost all of the freeware I was interested in was available in Windows, it was not just a Linux phenomenon! In fact most freeware is pretty platform independent, this is because the developers are very conscious of wanting to appeal to all audiences and since most of the software is built using freeware tools themselves which incorporated “cross-platform” libraries.

Some of the software and systems fall into the category of, “some assembly required”. While if you get everything from Microsoft, you can generally expect it all to work together right out of the box. Well, sometimes not quite that easy. In the free software arena you may very well be getting numerous pieces from separate vendors to work nicely together. In my case Mysql, JDBC driver, Birt report writer, query browser, Eclipse, Subversion, and Heidi SQL. In general the process is not too painful, and the online support community is very responsive, more so that the “Normal” vendors. You may often hear directly from the developer. Learning each products support methods is a bit of a chore but the more you do the more they all begin to feel very similar.

Sometimes documentation can be an issue a project called Floss manuals is a relatively new attempt to address the issue, check out the site free manuals for freeware.

I started to document my journey to the brave new software world. Wait! you say, its not new, and well you may be right! But it is new to me and from poking around in the process of learning it it seems that it is new to a lot of other people also.

I began by setting up a web site on Microsoft Live. Located at Http://TomBrander.com which hosts information about my real estate statistical consulting services. While Microsoft is not normally associated with great web stuff, this product is a wonderful exception. I got it when they were still handing out free domain registration, which sadly they have discontinued, now its something like $14.95 per year. However, the hosting remains free. You can get a free subdomain (like http://myname.live.com) and still get completely operational for free. Since, as some have pointed out, search is the most common way to find information now on the web. I don’t think the lack of a full domain registration is the handicap it once was, Google does index top level domains better, I hear, though.

I also incorporated a Blog hosted here at WordPress, a free service, http://tbrander.wordpress.com and incorporated into the main site via Iframes. I also maintain a Tech blog which will have this posted on it as well at https://tombrander.wordpress.com.

I’m now exploring Linux (Ubuntu), MySql, Eclipse, Open Office. I’ve got them loaded but I have a ways to go to get fully operational. I’m Using a dual boot Dell Win XP pro Machine with the newest Ubuntu Hardy. I’ll pick up some of that next time. I’m striving to create a solid free software development replacement to my entire Windows experience. I need a replacement for MS Access and eventually Photoshop CS3, although If I could get that in Wine I’d probably be ok with it.

Other neat tools/ services I’ve picked up are: Many Items in Google such as my new favorite: Google “reader” the Shared items page, Base, Mail, Docs, adsense, to do lists, portfolio, finance and a bunch of others, something new almost every day.

Metadot: A free hosted Wiki. My experimental site is here.

Mindtouch Wiki a hosted free service. My site is here.

PB wiki Is a hosted free service. My site is here.

Del.icio.us; A great way to keep bookmarks organized so I can get to them via any computer and not use my browser which keeps them stuck on one machine.

In fact one of my main goals is to move as much as I can into the “cloud” so that depending on a particular machine or location is no longer necessary. So this means giving up on Microsoft Outlook. So far no problem.

One last item for today is getting Firefox instead of Explorer, It has been a great improvement. I happen to be in Explorer at the moment, for no particular reason but I find myself most of the time in Firefox, which seems noticeably faster and much less crash prone, when running exactly the same stuff!

Installing SQL Explorer Eclipse plug-in In Ganymede

Installing SQL Explorer Eclipse plug-in Using auto Update: Hat tip to 5thcross.wordpress.com.  I noticed this set of instructions had not been updated for a while but they worked like a charm. The tool seems to have picked up some support recently and may be a good addition to your toolbox. Paticularly since the Data Tools Platform Eclipse component still seems to have a way to go. I’ll be trying to use this along side Birt for report wrting to edit the underlying queries… we’ll see. These instructions are lifted verbatum, they work. With Eclipse 3.41 and SQL Explorer version 3.5.0.RC6

  • From the Eclipse menu,
    select Help->Software Update->Find and Install. You will be
    displayed with a Install/Update dialog box.
  • Select Search for new
    features to install radio button & click next.
  • Click on the New Remote
    Site on the right hand side of the Install dialog box
  • Enter the name as “SQL
    Explorer” & “http://eclipsesql.sourceforge.net/” (without quotes) for
    the url in the New Update Site dialog box and click ok.
  • Select the SQL Explorer
    site in the Install dialog box and click finish.
  • Once the search is
    finished, it will present with the features to install.
  • Select the features you
    want to install. In this case select SQL Explorer branch & click next.
  • Accept the license
    agreement & click next.
  • Select the install location
    where you want to install this plug-in. By default it will be installed
    into the eclipse plug-in directory. If you want to add another location
    click on the change location button on the lower right hand corner and
    specify the directory where you want to install. Once you are finished
    with the selections click on finish button.

Got Ganymede RC4 with Birt Running on Win xp sp3

As I thought might be the case my problems seem to have been due to massive user error. The key is that one must start a project before trying to set anything else up, and.. The BIRT package comes with its own version of data explorer that is not the same as the main Eclipse DTP. I sill have not gotten the data tools platform (DTP) working with My Mysql database. I did get a sample report going with MY mysql database. so that is a start. For help on this if you are as confused as I was, and to some extent still am see the screen shots from me and the from the great help from an Actuate master (BIRT developer). see the bug 236647 (in Bugzilla) for some useful info for the total newbie!

So a key that I don’t think is highlighted in Eclipse Docs is that you must have STARTED A PROJECT, before anything else works properly, makes sense since it uses the project workspace to store all environment info…

If any one has an idea how or where one should put the MYSQL driver into the Eclipse environment so that it will work with the DTP I’d appreciate it! Currently I just get the “can’t find it” message even though it is displayed in the Jar file tab…(and I did set up another project to test it)

I’m still drinking through a fire hose trying to learn Eclipse, MYSQL, and JAVA all at once,(along with BIRT and probably a few other items)