I make Eclipse Plugins and I sell them to developers using Eclipse. Most of the visitors to my web site are not Eclipse experts. One of my key challenges is getting them to successfully install and try my software. It sounds simple, but Eclipse plugin installation is somewhat complex and error-prone process.
The safest way to install a plugin in Eclipse is by using the update manager as opposed to using the Dropins folder or manually copying files. It is safer because Eclipse performs more checks to ensure everything is in order. For example, it can check that all the dependencies are met.
Lately, I got several reports from users who failed to install my plugin using the update manager. After some research and with the assistance of some devoted users, I located a major issue: Installing Eclipse plugins on Windows Vista & 7 with User Access Control (UAC) on, fails if Eclipse is installed in the Program Files folder.
It is a very common scenario: many users are already running Windows 7, the UAC is on by default and the Programs Files folder is where most of the applications are installed, especially custom Eclipse distros that come with fancy Installers. It is a frustrating issue because the plugin installation appears to be complete: it will not issue any error message and, after restarting the platform, it will even show up properly in the Installation Details box. However, the plugins and features JARs are not copies, hence the plugin in not installed.
There are several possible work arounds for this issue: (starting from the easiest)
- Before the installation, start Eclipse with "Run as Administrator" option.
- Turn off the pesky UAC (for the installation or, better yet, altogether).
- Install Eclipse in a different folder. Eclipse doesn't have to be in the Program Files folder.
- Switch to Linux or Mac.
Clearly, the way Eclipse is handling it is bogus and should be fixed. This problem has been around since the days of Vista and Eclipse 3.3. I understand that installing a plugin in this case is an issue, so the least Eclipse should do is fail the process and not mislead the non-suspecting user. If you agree, you might want to vote on this bug (there are several bugs on this topic).
PS. If you're looking for more useful tips on installing Eclipse plugins, check out this article. It was written for Galileo but still applies to Helios.
PS2. I know, I wrote an entire article on Eclipse plugins installation and never once mentioned P2. So, there, I mentioned it.