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Using the new Building Blocks development plugin for Eclipse.

Blackboard is pleased to make available an Eclipse plugin that helps developers to quickly get up and running with Blackboard development projects. This tutorial assumes that you have installed the Starter Building Block version 1.2.3 on your development (never production!) server.

Installing the plugin

1. Download and open Eclipse Helios for Java Developers. Click Help->Install New Software.

2. Now click the Add button in the upper right.

3. Enter Blackboard Plugin as the Name and as the location this URL: http://eclipse.justplainwiley.com/helios/ (N.B used to be here:  http://fibbba.blackboard.com/eclipse, but this URL is broken, so the URLs shown in the pics won't work) - then click OK.

4. As the screen loads with available options, check the box next to Blackboard Plugin for Eclipse.

5. Click Next to continue with the installation.

6. Click I Accept and Finish to continue with the installation.

7. Click OK if prompted with an "unsigned content" warning.

8. Click Restart Now to finish installation of the plugin.

9. To begin using the plugin, select File->New->Project.

10. Now select Blackboard->Building Block Project.

11. Fill in the details relating to your project including:

Vendor ID: a <4 character long abbreviation for your organization
Plugin Handle: an identifier used to uniquely identify your project
Base Package: the "directory" used to store your code
Development Server: the URL or IP address of your remote development server.

Target Blackboard version: Browse to the location of the Blackboard jar libraries used for your version of Blackboard.

TIP: As a best practice, obtain the Blackboard jar libraries by downloading the installer jar file from Behind the Blackboard, unzipping it, and selecting the /payload/systemlib directory. Alternatively, you can select the /blackboard/systemlib or /apps/tomcat/lib directory from your development instance of Blackboard.

Use Project Template: Choose template code for your project based on one of the following options: Course Tool, User Tool, System Tool, Custom Content type, Portal Module, Stripes framework, BIRT report, or B2 Starter Kit Showcase

12. Your project will now load in Eclipse. Finish filling in the configuration values for your bb-manifest.xml file as indicated by the TODO reminders.

13. To deploy your project, open the build.xml file. In the Outline view in the upper right of your screen right click deploy-b2, then select Run As->Ant Build. If you do not see the outline, click Window->Show View->Outline. Your Building Block project will deploy itself automatically to your development server.

  1. 03 Mar 2012

    Simon Booth says:

    Note that this Eclipse plugin will not create new projects for 9.1sp7hf1 (Linux ...

    Note that this Eclipse plugin will not create new projects for 9.1sp7hf1 (Linux platform) as the manifest.mf is missing from bb-platform.jar and so the plugin cannot determine the version of Blackboard --- you'll get a NullPointerException when trying to to create a new project (File -> New -> Project -> Blackboard -> Buidling Block Project). To fix add a MANIFEST.MF to the jar:

    Manifest-Version: 1.0
    Ant-Version: Apache Ant 1.7.1
    Created-By: 11.2-b01 (Sun Microsystems Inc.)
    Blackboard-Version: 9.1.70081.25

    worked for me (taken from 9.1sp4 and the version changed for sp7hf1)

  2. 08 Mar 2012

    GW Blackboard says:

    Anyone having issues deploying to 9.1 SP8 using the Ant script? I am getting a "...

    Anyone having issues deploying to 9.1 SP8 using the Ant script? I am getting a "blackboard.platform.plugin.BadPackageDefException: java.util.zip.ZipException: error in opening zip file" when attempting to deploy to a server recently updated from 9.1 SP6 (where the script had worked fine). 

    1. 08 Mar 2012

      George Kroner says:

      We have identified the cause of the SP8 hiccups and will have a fix out within t...

      We have identified the cause of the SP8 hiccups and will have a fix out within the next 2 weeks. Thank you.

      1. 22 Mar 2012

        George Kroner says:

        An updated version of the Eclipse plugin is now available and was posted this mo...

        An updated version of the Eclipse plugin is now available and was posted this morning to ensure compatibility with 9.1 SP8. The issue with the version not appearing in the manifest file of the bb-platform.jar file has also been corrected, and this will reappear in the next maintenance release of Blackboard Learn moving forward. For versions 9.1 SP7 HF1 and the initial release of SP8, all you need to do is inject the version as described by Simon in the comment above for this to work correctly. Good detective work!

        1. 17 Jul 2012

          Jacob Romero says:

          I don't know how to get the updated building block.  Is 1.0.16 the newest? ...

          I don't know how to get the updated building block.  Is 1.0.16 the newest?  When I lookup the software to install on eclipse at http://fibba.blackboard.com/eclpse it only finds this version.

          Please advise

          Jake

          1. 18 Jul 2012

            Wiley Fuller says:

            Hi Jake, that should be the most recent version. Are you having any particula...

            Hi Jake,

            that should be the most recent version. Are you having any particular problems?

            Wiley

            1. 18 Jul 2012

              Jacob Romero says:

              Thanks for responding. I'm still having the trouble listed above with the ant s...

              Thanks for responding.

              I'm still having the trouble listed above with the ant script on my dev server for SP8.  It gives the error 

              -- Server Side Stacktrace --

               [b2deploy] ERROR

               [b2deploy] blackboard.platform.plugin.BadPackageDefException: java.util.zip.ZipException: error in opening zip file

              ...

              I'm guessing I'm just missing a step.  After I update the plugin, do I need to do anything to a previously existing project to update it?

              Thanks

              Jake

              1. 21 Jul 2012

                Wiley Fuller says:

                Hi Jake, the problem seems to be with the eclipse plugin. A new version of th...

                Hi Jake,

                the problem seems to be with the eclipse plugin. A new version of the Ant task (which fixes that exception), was added,
                but the plugin version number wasn't updated. This means that Eclipse doesn't know the plugin has changed, and won't update it automatically.
                If you reinstall the plugin from scratch (which may mean reinstalling eclipse as well), the issue should disappear.

                Hope this helps.

                Wiley

  3. 29 Mar 2012

    Arald denBraber says:

    I'm trying to get Eclipse configured for Blackbaord on my Mac but I run into som...

    I'm trying to get Eclipse configured for Blackbaord on my Mac but I run into some problems. I think the problem is in setting the SDK root dir as I think Eclips is unable to find the Blackboard Jar files. In the wizard from the Blackboard plugin for Eclipse nothing happens when I click on "set SDK root"  and point to the folder where I have the Blackboard systemlib Jar files. I expected the wizard to display our Bb versie (Bb9.1 SP8) under Target Blackboard Version. When I ignore this and click on Finish I get a new project but it says I have 8 problems in buildingblockhelper.java. From these errors I conclude that Eclipse can't find the Blackboard specific libs/jars. When I go to the project properties and inspect the library settings I see a [null] after the Blackboard libraries. The location specified is correct because that is where I have the bb-platform.jar, bb-taglibs.jar and bb-cms-admin.jar (and all the other jars from the systemlib folder). You can see the errors in the attached picture. What is going wrong in my project? I can deplay it to the test server and it runs so taht part is fine.

    1. 12 May 2012

      Wiley Fuller says:

      Hi Arald, as mentioned in the first comment, this is caused by the file "/META-I...

      Hi Arald,
      as mentioned in the first comment, this is caused by the file "/META-INF/MANIFEST.MF" not containing the Blackboard version number.

      To fix this, extract MANIFEST.MF from bb-platform.jar, add the line:
      Blackboard-Version: 9.1.70081.25

      Put the modified version of MANIFEST.MF back in bb-platform.jar, and everything should work.

      cheers,

      Wiley

  4. 02 Oct 2012

    Bruce Phillips says:

    To get this to work with Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP 9 I had to add this line to the...

    To get this to work with Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP 9 I had to add this line to the META-INF/MANIFEST.MF file in bb-platform.jar

    Blackboard-Version: 9.1.90132.0

    Here are the steps I followed:

    1.  Extract META-INF/MANIFEST.MF from bb-platform.jar:  jar -xf bb-platform.jar META-INF/MANIFEST.MF

    2.  Use a text editor to edit MANIFEST.MF adding the Blackboard-version line above

    3.  Merge the edited META-INF/MANIFEST.MF back into the bb-platform.jar manifest:  jar umf META-INF/MANIFEST.MF bb-platform.jar

    After that the version number displays in the Target Blackboard Version drop-down in the Blackboard Building Block wizard

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