Using the Zimlet Development Directory for Iterative Development

By | January 14, 2010

When developing a Zimlet, you are constantly making code changes and then packaging and deploying the Zimlet to be able to test those changes. This is the Zimlet development process and is done over & over again until your Zimlet is “ready” for production. An iterative development process like this that involves packaging and deploying with each code change can be quite time consuming and really impact your developer productivity.

That’s where the Zimlet Development Directory comes in.

By using the Zimlet Development Directory, you can develop your Zimlets without having to package and deploy the Zimlet with each code change. You can make your code changes directly in the Zimlet files and just refresh your browser to see the changes take affect. This will greatly reduce your development time and overall, make it much easier to build Zimlets.

To use the Zimlet Development Directory, create a _dev folder in the {zcs-install-dir}/zimlets-deployed directory. In the _dev folder, create your Zimlet folder and file structure that you can modify on the fly. It’s just that easy.

For example, say you want to create a Zimlet named “com_zimbra_myzimlet”:

  1. Create the development directory:
    {zcs-install-dir}/zimlets-deployed/_dev
  2. Create the Zimlet folder:
    {zcs-install-dir}/zimlets-deployed/_dev/com_zimbra_myzimlet
  3. Now put your Zimlet Definition File (com_zimbra_myzimlet.xml) and whatever other resources your Zimlet needs in that directory (like JavaScript files, JSP files, Properties files, etc).
  4. Make code changes to the Zimlet files as necessary and voila, just refresh your browser to see the changes take affect.

There are some limitations, however. If using Internationalization resource properties, you will need to load the Zimbra Web Client in Development Mode (i.e. with “?dev=1″ on the URL). Also, the “allowed domains” setting in the Zimlet Configuration File (config_template.xml) for the Proxy Servlet is not recognized. There is a workaround for this situation described in the Proxy Servlet Setup section of the Zimlet Developer’s Guide.

We still recommend that you package and deploy your Zimlet when you plan to go into production. But as you can see, the Zimlet Development Directory cuts-out the deploy & package development steps and is a convenient way to do iterative Zimlet development.

More information on the Zimlet Development Directory can be found in the Zimlet Developer’s Guide at:

http://wiki.zimbra.com/index.php?title=ZCS_6.0:Zimlet_Developers_Guide:Dev_Environment_Setup#Zimlet_Development_Directory


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