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Show 'n Tell Thursday: Cross compiling sidebar plugins for Notes 8.0.x and Notes 8.5 (7 August 2008)

I haven't done a SnTT in months (actually the last one was back on 24 May 2007) so I guess it's about time. This week it's about cross compiling sidebar plugins for Notes 8.5 and Notes 8.0.2. Enjoy...

Since installing Notes 8.5 I have had a lot of trouble developing in Eclipse 3.4 for Notes 8.5 and having the plugins work in Notes 8.0.x as well. The problem showed itself as a NullPointerException when trying to load the plugin Activator and a "Viewpart is null" message in the Notes UI. Looking at the log trace showed a class incompatibility message ("bad major version at offset=6").

So far I have been screaming my lungs out, developing in Eclipse 3.4 and building the plugins in a virtual machine with Eclipse 3.2 as I couldn't get plugins to work otherwise. Now I finally found a solution that lets me develop in Eclipse 3.4 and having the plugins work in Notes 8.0.x and Notes 8.5.

The issue is that Eclipse 3.4 configured with Notes 8.5 as a target platform is using Java 6 and that Notes 8.0.x is using Java 5 which causes class format problems. The solution is to set the required execution environment in Eclipse 3.4 which will cause Eclipse to build correctly. Setting the required execution environment (J2SE-1.5) is done in the "Overview"-tab of the MANIFEST.MF editor as shown below.

Using the GUI is of cause just a shorthand for editing the manifest manually. As an alternative you can edit your META-INF/MANIFEST.MF file directly and add the following line:

Bundle-RequiredExecutionEnvironment: J2SE-1.5
Please note that this is not the default value when creating new plugins in Eclipse 3.4 so you'll have to pay attention and make sure it's set correctly. This is of cause only necessary if your plugins need to work on Notes 8.0.x as well as Notes 8.5.

Thanks to Pierre Carlson from IBM for pointers on this.

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