I just got back from the kick-off meeting of the Eclipse SIG (Special Interest Group) of the NOVAJUG (Northern Virginia Java Users Group.) (Thanks Dave for getting it started!) Matt Abrams of Cougaar Software gave a great presentation on how you can quickly get started building Eclipse plug-ins. He has good experience in doing this from his work on the Cougaar IDE, which helps developers use Cougaar, which I’ll talk a little more about below. I’ll ask Matt for the presentation and post a link sometime soon.
Cougaar (short for Cognitive Agent Architecture) is "a Java-based architecture for the construction of highly scalable distributed agent-based applications", which also happens to be open source. It is brought to you via US tax dollars through DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), which is a good thing, because it seems that governments usually get a good return when they invest in research and development. For example, you are able to read this blog primarily because back in 1973, DARPA started the research project which became the Internet. I’ve met several smart folks who work at and for DARPA and they do good work.
Recently, it seems that DARPA has been supportive of open source projects, especially via the UltraLog project, which has spawned not just Cougaar, but also the popular (and quite useful) PMD. PMD, if you don’t know, is a nice static analyzer of Java source code which can find problems. PMD also has an Eclipse plug-in (as well as plug-ins for most every Java IDE you can think of.) So try out Cougaar IDE and the PMD plug-in, especially if you’re in the US, since you’ve already paid for them. :)
Note on PMD: I would recommend using the Eclipse Update Manager, using the URL http://pmd.sourceforge.net/eclipse/plugins/ as the remote site URL vs downloading the files from SourceForge. It seems to be a newer version and it fixes a bug in PMD due to its inclusion of Xerces, which is used in the serialization of its preference files.
Back to my original question: are there any other Eclipse user groups out there? If so, let me know and we can all link up. If your local community doesn’t have one, consider starting one.