This weekend I finally got around to giving pulse2 a spin. For those that have not heard of pulse2 its an eclipse based application that does the dirty work when it comes to configuring..eclipse. I know this sounds kind of odd but that's what it is and does. Once you open pulse2 you can chose which Eclipse runtime you want, like the core + WTP, then all additional plugins in the Pulse2 catalog. Once you have chosen the plugins you want Pulse does the dirty work of downloading and resolving dependencies. If you have 2 profiles with the same plugin it will not download it twice, its smart like that. You can also save these configs as profiles and share them with others. Pulse2 in its basic form is free but as I quickly found out anything worth while really requires the freelance account and that is subscription based @ $6/month or $60/year.
My initial thought, and why it took me so long to use pulse, was meh I can do this all on my own. However, loading different profiles can be really useful. Lets say I am working on mxUnit's eclipse plugin I can load an IDE specifically geared towards plugin dev. This would be pretty different than if I was working on OpenBD's core (something else I did this weekend). I quickly learned how nice Pulse2 is and this is a perfect way to help others in the community, share my profile and anyone can use it! The problem for me comes in that you can only use plugins in Pulse2's catalog to use Pulse2 for free. Even worse some of the plugins in the catalog require a freelance account to use (Aptana and Jboss tools are the 2 biggies here). This seems crappy to me since there is not way they can keep the catalog up-to-date. A perfect example of this is mxUnit; if I want to make a profile for the average CFML developer its either without the mxUnit plugin or it is a freelance account profile.
You can always install plugins yourself and have them not managed by Pulse but again I loose the profile aspect of it. In addition to being able to add your own plugins with a freelance account you can also share configuration settings. This is really awesome since I have multiple dev computers pulse will now keep them all in sync with one another. That to me seems like the type of services that I should pay for, not the ability to manage any plugin I want, isn't that what pulse set out to do FREE to begin with? Other than my not all plugins can be managed gripe, I also had quite a few issues with Pulse2 on Leopard, invalid argument exceptions. So bad that I would repeatedly have to shut down Pulse2 and relaunch to get my profiles configured all the way. Once the profile was configured Pulse did work perfectly so it was choppy starting but overall the product worked and worked well.
At this point I am not sure the service is worth the $60/year, I know it is not much but I can already accomplish most of what the service extras do for me with source control and checking in/out my eclipse configurations. What's more my method works with more than just eclipse it works will all my dev tools. This type of functionality is in the roadmap and once that comes to fruition I think it will surely be worth the cost. I might just get the subscription now so I can help fund the project and continue to use my extra managed plugins I guess I'll make that decision in 29 days.