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Migration FAQ - from Emacs to MDT

Migration from Emacs to Eclipse & MDT is like a parachute jump. You don’t know if it is safe and if it is even a good idea but after jumping you find it extraordinarily exciting and you want more… To make it easier for you, we have created this small migration guide that will help you get rid of all fears before making the jump. Below you will find a list of frequently asked questions from Emacs users that started working with MDT.

How to install and run MDT?

The fastest and easiest is to use a product installer which deploys Eclipse Platform along with JRE and MDT feature already installed on it. To run MDT you just have to start mdt.exe. The following demo will guide you through the installation process.

What is the Workspace?

Workspace is the physical location containing your projects, source files and other artifacts can be (but don’t have to be) stored and saved in your workspace. The workspace also contains preferences settings, plug-in specific meta data, logs etc. You typically use different workspaces if you require different settings for your project or if you want to divide your projects into separate directories. The following demo will show you how to deal with the workspace.

How to migrate my configurations/ How to manage Sessions?

The way of handling sessions in Emacs and MDT differs in a few aspects and has to be at least reviewed. In case of Emacs you just have to fire up some command line in a console and voilà. In MDT, first you have to create a session component with the use of information from this command line. But don’t worry, after some practice you will realize that having these components in your IDE is very useful and allows you to customize your session without the need to affect the original configuration.

For more advanced or curious users we recommend going through this presentation.

How to create a Runtime?

Runtime in MDT is a definition of the Smallworld GIS runtime environment i.e. core product directory and some supporting executables required by MDT. Runtime is a base for running any Session in MDT.

How to create a Session?

A session which configuration (image file location, session launcher parameters, environment variables) is entirely stored in MDT.

How to create a Session Link?

It links to the configuration stored within existing environment and GIS alias files. MDT stores only the location of files and the name of a particular alias to run.

Best for existing projects where both, MDT and Emacs are used. It makes session administration easier for both environments.

How to create a Command Line Session?

It allows to simply run existing complex GIS session configurations based on executable files such as batch files or gis.exe. Command Line Session simply starts executable file with declared working directory and parameters.

How to handle my Magik sources?

Eclipse workspace is intended to store projects. Projects contain source, configuration and other files related to a certain task and group them into buildable and reusable units. An Eclipse project can have natures assigned to it which describe the purpose of this project (Java, UML, etc.). Magik project has its own specific nature which defines its relation to GIS session and is intended to handle Magik modules, products, source files, etc. that are physically stored somewhere but not necessarily in your workspace. There are three main kinds of resources that can be handled by Magik project:

  • Local – stored directly in workspace;
  • Linked – stored outside workspace ;
  • Project Dependencies – lightweight variant of linked and read-only Magik sources;

The following demo will guide you through the creation of a Magik project and managing its sources.

How to integrate MDT with Version Control Systems?

There are plenty of plug-ins available for Eclipse that are intended to support different kinds of VCS. All of them are fully integrated with Eclipse. so user can benefit from all of the goodies provided by platform like dedicated perspectives and views for handling/synchronizing repositories, comparing sources, etc. The following demo will show you how to install and use an example plug-in for SVN.

How to use MDT Debugger?

Magik debugger in MDT is very user-friendly as all debuggers based on Eclipse Platform Debug Framework. To be able to debug Magik code you have to start or switch a session to “Debug” mode and put a breakpoint in a method you would like to debug. After hitting a breakpoint you can switch to a dedicated “Debug” perspective where you can find all of the views and features for handling code execution, watching variables, managing breakpoints, etc. The following demo will show you how to use debugger in MDT.

How to customize Eclipse & MDT?

MDT & Eclipse are strongly customizable thanks to a large amount of preferences that can be changed in your IDE. Some of the new users complained that specific features should work for them in a little bit different way – no problem, just go to Magik preference pages and customize it! You can also customize existing perspectives or create new ones with any set of views that you need to have to make your work more effective. Please follow the attached demo to see how to customize your MDT & Eclipse.

Is it possible to use Emacs key shortcuts in MDT?

To be able to use Emacs key scheme in MDT you have to go to “Keys” preference page in Eclipse and change the default scheme to “Emacs”. After changing the scheme you can run your favorite actions like transmitting source code, copy/paste, etc. with the use of the same shortcuts as in Emacs. You can also define/change shortcuts for chosen commands in the same preference page.