How to set up Eclipse Helios and Google App Engine for Java the easy way

There is a wealth of information online about Eclipse and Google App Engine (GAE), but I haven’t found any good concise guides to setting up a clean environment quickly.


This outlines how to set up a working Eclipse and Google App Engine for Java environment, with Subversion for code management and Trac for task/tickets. With a eclipse downloaded, it will take about 15 minutes and includes the basic steps needed.

Quick setup

1. Download Eclipse Helios JEE edition (version 3.6):

2. Install Google App Engine (GAE) Eclipse Plug-in:
Look at Help > Install New Software… Add Update Site:
http://dl.google.com/eclipse/plugin/3.6
Add all options.

3. Add Subversion:
Update Site is a part of Helios Update Site. Look at Help > Install New Software… > select Helios – http://download.eclipse.org/releases/helios > Collaboration Tools
Add the Subversion Team connector and Mylyn integration.
On restart add the SVN Kit connector when prompted (latest available)
Change to Subversion Perspective.
Recent perspectives are in the top-right as icons, or choose Window > Open Perspective.
Add Subversion repository locations.

4. Add Mylyn Trac connector (Mylyn is part of the default Helios install):
Update Site is a part of Helios Update Site. Look at Help > Install New Software… > select Helios – http://download.eclipse.org/releases/helios > Collaboration Tools
Change to Planning Perspective.
Add Trac task repository and whatever query you want:
Highly recommend projectlocker for integrated Trac and Subversion hosting for free/cheap. Codesion is also good.

5. Change to Java perspective to start working.
Create a new project, or create a new project from SVN.
File > New > Project > SVN > Project from SVN
Select the appropriate repo and Browse for projects, and expand to choose the project from the trunk.

6. To test / run locally:
  • GAE project: Select project and choose Run > Run As > Web Application (with GAE logo)
  • Regular Java server: Run > Run As > Run on server
  • Console will show test address, normally http://localhost:8888
7. Update SVN:
Right-click project name and choose TeamCommit or TeamUpdate (or Synchronize with Repository to inspect changes)

8. Deploy to GAE:
Click the GAE toolbar icon, or right-click project and choose Google > Deploy to App Engine
Version is deployed with version name specified in WEB-INFappengine-web.xml.
GAE’s control panel / Versions lets you specify “Default” (live) version in use and address of alternative versions.

Recommended additions:
HTML and AJAX dev: Aptana
PHP: Eclipse PHP Development Tools Eclipse PDT
Python: PyDev and Python GAE SDK


Background information and documentation

Development / Test Environment

You don’t have to install Eclipse but it really is the fastest way to get operating with GAE. Without it, you need install the Java SDK and Google App Engine (GAE) SDK locally on your machine.

Google’s own instructions on setting up GAE for Java are here:

SDK and other downloads here:

Eclipse setup

Getting started instructions with more detail:

Highly recommend using the great plugin for Google App Engine that makes it all simple:

Recommend also installing PyDev, PHP Dev Tools, Aptana for ajax dev with the links above. PyDev instructions for another day.

The integrated Subversive subversion plugin in Helios looks after the svn checkouts and commits too (instructions here). A Git plug-in is also available.

Helios also has Mylyn task manager which connects to Trac and gives you integrated task management with the any trac instance too, which absolutely rocks. Highly recommended if you’re using trac and subversion with any language.

The Helios Eclipse downloads are here (current release at time of writing is v3.6 – Helios):

Setting up and using the GAE SDK with eclipse and the local test server is covered here:

Have fun!