How To Use The Blackboard Building Block Eclipse Plugin

Blackboard provides a Building Block Eclipse plugin that simplifies setting up a Building Block project and deploying a Building Block application to a Blackboard development server. Using the plugin saves Building Block developers significant time.

Go to: and follow the instructions for installing the Building Blocks Eclipse plugin.

The first time you use the Building Block Project wizard you will see this screen:

Building Block Project Wizard

The first time you use the plugin, the Target blackboard version will be blank. To tell the wizard what the target Blackboard version should be you must click on the link Set SDK root dir. Then browse to where you copied the Blackboard jars (bb-platform.jar, bb-taglibs.jar, etc. that you copied from your Blackboard development server). After you set the SDK root dir you should see the Target Blackboard Version value that matches your Blackboard development server (if you don't try clicking the cancel button and then retry the Building Block project wizard).

If setting the SDK root dir still doesn't get the target version correct, you may need to modify the MANIFEST.MF file that is in the bb-platform.jar. Read a comment I wrote for how to modify the MANIFEST.MF file.

You must fill in the other fields on the Building Block project wizard. The Vendor ID should be the abbreviation that identifies the group that created the Building Block.

Your development server is the domain name or IP address of your development Blackboard Learn system.

The other information is specific to your project.

When you click on Finish, the wizard will create a project with a partially filled in bb-manifest.xml file (you will need to open up the bb-manifest.xml and fill in the rest of the information), an index.jsp, and it will put the Blackboard jars on the project's class path. The plugin also provides a handy GUI interface to editing the bb-manifest.xml file.

The project created by the plugin will also have an Ant build.xml file with a target of deploy-b2 that will create the .war file and then deploy the .war file to the Blackboard development server . This saves you the step of having to manually deploy the .war file.

For the deploy-b2 target to work you must have previously installed the Starting Building Block on the Blackboard development server (see: The Starting Building Block allows the Building Block Eclipse plugin to deploy a building block .war file directly to the Blackboard server. I installed the Starting Block 1.2.3 with Upload on our development server.

Using the Blackboard Building Block Eclipse plugin can save time in setting up a Building Block project and also make it much faster to deploy the Buidling Block to the development server.

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