As you have seen throughout this book, Spring simplifies many facets of application development including configuration, component interaction, and data access. However, Spring is not without its own complexities. In particular, many users find managing the large amount of information present in the Spring configuration files quite difficult, especially in large applications where the number of bean definitions can easily reach into the hundreds.
Thankfully, you can alleviate much of this burden using the Spring IDE, a plugin for the Eclipse platform that provides a custom Spring configuration file editor that makes it simple to manage a large number of beans. In this appendix, we demonstrate how the features in the Spring IDE can make your life easier when you are developing Spring applications. Specifically, we look at the following features:
Installing Spring IDE: In this section, we show you how to install the Eclipse platform on your machine, how to configure the Graphical Editor Framework (GEF)—a required component of Spring IDE—and finally, how to install Spring IDE into the Eclipse platform.
Configuring a Spring IDE project: The Spring IDE provides a nature for the Eclipse environment, allowing you to add Spring IDE features to any project type. Using this nature, you can create a standard Java project in the Eclipse IDE and then add and remove the Spring IDE features as you see fit.
Managing Spring configuration files: Most of the features in the Spring IDE are provided through extensions to the Eclipse text editor architecture. The Spring IDE provides a set of features, which you can use with any Eclipse text editor, that identifies invalid class names, invalid bean names, and nonexistent parent bean references. In addition to these features, the Spring IDE provides support for configurations spread across multiple files and can highlight inadvertent usage of bean overriding.
Visualizing Spring configuration files: The Spring IDE provides two graphical views, one tree-based and one graph-based, that offer you an easy way to visualize the beans in your application and to view the relationships between them.
This appendix is not intended as an introduction to the Eclipse platform. If you are interested in using Eclipse to develop applications using Java and Spring, you should read Eclipse by Steve Holzner (O'Reilly, 2004).