Get sideways with HTML5 in Eclipse

2 minutes read

There are few front-end web developers I know who actually use the Eclipse editor for development. Whether it’s the complexity of the IDE or simply resistance to change I cannot say. Working with Eclipse on enterprise apps has some serious advantages when it comes to working in multidisciplinary teams. And wrenching on a UI is no exception.

As of late HTML5 is beginning to bear the shine of a recently waxed Tesla Roadster. It’s hard not to want to jump right in and hit the gas. But wait, the HTML5 spec is still in draft. Is it safe to turn over the ignition? Well, it depends. But here are 5 reasons to start using HTML5 now.

Last year when Eclipse Helios was released HTML5 didn’t validate within the IDE. But somewhere between that release and the latest Helios service release, support was added for actual native* *HTML5 elements in Eclipse, no plugin required! And you don’t need to be running Aptana either. Awesomesauce!

The following instructions will help Eclipse newcomers and experienced client-side developers alike get started, kinda like a big smokey burnout.

To get going

  1. Download and isntall the latest Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers package. Until Indigo GA packages are released in June you can use Helios Service Release 2. The package comes with WTP components like JavaScript Development Tools conveniently pre-installed.
  2. Fire up the IDE.
  3. Select a workspace and create or import a project. If you’re just starting off, try creating a new Static Web Project named HTML5 with the default values (File > New > Static Web Project, then click Finish).
  4. Create a new HTML File (File > New > HTML File) using the HTML5 Template, available by selecting Next after naming the new file and choosing New HTML File (5), and choosing Finish.

If prompted during the process, choose to switch to the Web perspective. Once complete, you should should see something similar to the following:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<meta charset="ISO-8859-1">
<title>Insert title here</title>

If you’re not satisfied with the limited characters displayable by the Latin-1 character set you can change the default encoding type for new template-based files from the Eclipse preferences by going to Window > Preferences > Web, clicking HTML Files and choosing something else (psst, go for the UTF-8).

Save the new file and run it by choosing Run > Run As > Run on Server. By default the internal Eclipse browser will be used. To change the default browser select Window > Web Browser, and select a different browser from the list.

Your battery should now be fully charged and ready to lay some rubber as you race into the future with HTML5 in Eclipse. Now go take a HTML5 test drive and see if you can get sideways.

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