Eclipse plus Mylyn = Productive

I tried Mylyn for the first time a year ago, and found it to be impressive, but the job I was working at had a relatively small team, and small codebase, and I was only using Eclipse/Java a portion of the time, so I found that I didn’t really use it too much. And after a couple of nasty crashes, I realized I had overloaded Eclipse with too many plugins, and yanked Mylyn out.

Now I’m working at a new gig, which is all Java all the time, and I am pretty much living inside Eclipse, flipping away only to check docs or go into DBVisualizer. And the code base is of a respectable size, divided into 50 or so source folders. My Package Explorer view just scrolls and scrolls and scrolls, and it is impossible to find anything. (Add to that that it is a new code base for me, and I just don’t know where stuff is, period.)

So suddenly, Mylyn is a lot more useful. It hooks into our issue tracker/ source repository (Trac/SVN). Which means I never have to leave Eclipse for information about what I am doing. I love the Planning tab on the tasks, where I can outline my approach to a problem, and which I can refer to when I lose track of what to do next.

My this is cool moment came when I discovered that Mylyn saved my workbench state for each task. Turning the task off cleans the workbench editor of all the files I had open—and making the task active again brings them all back. It’s fantastic to switch between issues, knowing that it won’t take you 15 minutes just to get everything set back up.

Best of all, Mylyn makes the Package Explorer usable again, by focusing me on just the files that I am using. I find Mylyn absolutely vital t o getting my job done these days.

One note: Getting started with Mylyn can be a little intimidating.  And for the first time user, the Mylyn project presentations are not especially helpful.  The 60 minute video done is a bit to long for the impatient to digest. There needs to be a simple 5 minute “here’s what’s cool, here’s how to get started”. If you are new to Mylyn, the best would be to get a demo from someone who has used it before. If you can’t get a live demo, I’d encourage you to stick with it though, it has definitely paid off for me.