Eclipse Mylyn : Context-centric approach to integrating bug reports, tickets and eclipse

The Mylyn plugin for eclipse is a rename of the Mylar eclipse plugin. It has become so popular that it is now shipped in the main distribution of Eclipse for the Java developper.

Mylyn provides a context-centered approach to task management. It can be coupled with most of the popular task management (bug report) systems available such as Trac and Bugzilla which which it can be fully integrated.

Using Mylyn, when you start working on a task (or bug report), you set this as being the active task. This leads Mylyn to switch your working context and what you can see from the sourcetree in eclipse.

If you’re the first one to work on the task, then Mylyn will simply remove everything from the package explorer, creating a new empty context for this task. When you open classes and make modifications to them, they will automatically be added to your working context and appear in the package explorer. When you commit, you can then attach a description of the context to the task you’ve been working on.

When someone else looks into the task that you’ve been working on, Mylyn will restore the context you attached to the task when you last committed. That way, the other developper will be able to focus on the classes you’ve been working on and can forget about the rest of the software.

This context-centric approach is also used by the IBM Jazz platform TeamConcert product on which I attended a presentation, of course, as a commercial product they add lots of “eye candy” features to the concept but the idea still remains the same.

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