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jACT-R & Eclipse : Revisions & Collaboration

One of the benefits of using the Eclipse platform for developing ACT-R models is that it supports a variety of tools for revision control and collaboration. Whether it is tracking down and reverting an errant change, sharing complete models, or collaboratively building them, Eclipse makes it quite simple. Here are a few pointers/best practices that you may want to consider.

Revision Control

Eclipse contains a local history of all changes for a configurable amount of time (see the history preferences). While not strictly revision control, this is a valuable first stop after you've managed to fubar your model.


For those that want genuine revision control plus collaborative support, Eclipse's Team support allows you to share, commit, update and merge revisions from many different revision control systems. Out of the box, Eclipse supports CVS, but there are plugins for SVN, Mercurial, and support for GIT is in the pipeline.

Which ever repository you use will have to be configured, but once that's done you can simply share your project to make it accessible to others.


Checking out projects that others have shared is just as simple. After the repository is set up, just find the branch and use the Find/Check Out As.. to find all the projects within.



Often times firewalls or accounts make repository based sharing impossible. That's where the basic export functionality comes in. Since each jACT-R project is supposed to be self-contained (since dependencies would be distributed as separate bundles/plugins/projects), one can simply choose to export the project as an archive file.


Two things worth considering here are the run configurations and the results of those runs. As has been mentioned before, it is important that you save your run configurations to file via the Common tab of the run configuration dialog. This makes it easier for the recipient to run the model exactly as you intended. Second, if you are anything like me your runs directory is full of weeks worth of tinkering. Unless it's needed, I recommend not exporting that directory. It will save a ton of time and space. Merely uncheck the folder in the export dialog.


If you just received a zipped jACT-R project from someone, you might be tempted to import it using the "Archive File" option. That would be a good guess, but unfortunately wrong. This is an Eclipse usability gotcha that gets me routinely. Select "Existng Projects into Workspace" instead and provide it with the archive file. You can then select which projects to import and the IDE will take care of the rest for you.