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Chapter 3. Installation and Setup (Core and IDE)

3.1. Installing and using
3.1.1. Dependencies and jars
3.1.2. Runtime
3.1.3. Installing IDE (Rule Workbench)
3.2. Building from source
3.2.1. Getting the sources
3.2.2. Building the sources
3.3. Eclipse
3.3.1. Importing Eclipse Projects

Drools provides an Eclipse-based IDE (which is optional), but at its core only Java 1.5 (Java SE) is required.

A simple way to get started is to download and install the Eclipse plug-in - this will also require the Eclipse GEF framework to be installed (see below, if you don't have it installed already). This will provide you with all the dependencies you need to get going: you can simply create a new rule project and everything will be done for you. Refer to the chapter on the Rule Workbench and IDE for detailed instructions on this. Installing the Eclipse plug-in is generally as simple as unzipping a file into your Eclipse plug-in directory.

Use of the Eclipse plug-in is not required. Rule files are just textual input (or spreadsheets as the case may be) and the IDE (also known as the Rule Workbench) is just a convenience. People have integrated the rule engine in many ways, there is no "one size fits all".

Alternatively, you can download the binary distribution, and include the relevant jars in your projects classpath.

Drools is broken down into a few modules, some are required during rule development/compiling, and some are required at runtime. In many cases, people will simply want to include all the dependencies at runtime, and this is fine. It allows you to have the most flexibility. However, some may prefer to have their "runtime" stripped down to the bare minimum, as they will be deploying rules in binary form - this is also possible. The core runtime engine can be quite compact, and only require a few 100 kilobytes across 2 jar files.

The following is a description of the important libraries that make up JBoss Drools

There are quite a few other dependencies which the above components require, most of which are for the drools-compiler, drools-jsr94 or drools-decisiontables module. Some key ones to note are "POI" which provides the spreadsheet parsing ability, and "antlr" which provides the parsing for the rule language itself.

NOTE: if you are using Drools in J2EE or servlet containers and you come across classpath issues with "JDT", then you can switch to the janino compiler. Set the system property "drools.compiler": For example: -Ddrools.compiler=JANINO.

For up to date info on dependencies in a release, consult the released poms, which can be found on the maven repository.

The rule workbench (for Eclipse) requires that you have Eclipse 3.4 or greater, as well as Eclipse GEF 3.4 or greater. You can install it either by downloading the plug-in or, or using the update site.

Another option is to use the JBoss IDE, which comes with all the plug-in requirements pre packaged, as well as a choice of other tools separate to rules. You can choose just to install rules from the "bundle" that JBoss IDE ships with.

Download the Drools Eclipse IDE plugin from the link below. Unzip the downloaded file in your main eclipse folder (do not just copy the file there, extract it so that the feature and plugin jars end up in the features and plugin directory of eclipse) and (re)start Eclipse.


To check that the installation was successful, try opening the Drools perspective: Click the 'Open Perspective' button in the top right corner of your Eclipse window, select 'Other...' and pick the Drools perspective. If you cannot find the Drools perspective as one of the possible perspectives, the installation probably was unsuccessful. Check whether you executed each of the required steps correctly: Do you have the right version of Eclipse (3.4.x)? Do you have Eclipse GEF installed (check whether the org.eclipse.gef_3.4.*.jar exists in the plugins directory in your eclipse root folder)? Did you extract the Drools Eclipse plugin correctly (check whether the org.drools.eclipse_*.jar exists in the plugins directory in your eclipse root folder)? If you cannot find the problem, try contacting us (e.g. on irc or on the user mailing list), more info can be found no our homepage here:


A Drools runtime is a collection of jars on your file system that represent one specific release of the Drools project jars. To create a runtime, you must point the IDE to the release of your choice. If you want to create a new runtime based on the latest Drools project jars included in the plugin itself, you can also easily do that. You are required to specify a default Drools runtime for your Eclipse workspace, but each individual project can override the default and select the appropriate runtime for that project specifically.

You are required to define one or more Drools runtimes using the Eclipse preferences view. To open up your preferences, in the menu Window select the Preferences menu item. A new preferences dialog should show all your preferences. On the left side of this dialog, under the Drools category, select "Installed Drools runtimes". The panel on the right should then show the currently defined Drools runtimes. If you have not yet defined any runtimes, it should like something like the figure below.

To define a new Drools runtime, click on the add button. A dialog as shown below should pop up, requiring the name for your runtime and the location on your file system where it can be found.

In general, you have two options:

After clicking the OK button, the runtime should show up in your table of installed Drools runtimes, as shown below. Click on checkbox in front of the newly created runtime to make it the default Drools runtime. The default Drools runtime will be used as the runtime of all your Drools project that have not selected a project-specific runtime.

You can add as many Drools runtimes as you need. For example, the screenshot below shows a configuration where three runtimes have been defined: a Drools 4.0.7 runtime, a Drools 5.0.0 runtime and a Drools 5.0.0.SNAPSHOT runtime. The Drools 5.0.0 runtime is selected as the default one.

Note that you will need to restart Eclipse if you changed the default runtime and you want to make sure that all the projects that are using the default runtime update their classpath accordingly.

Whenever you create a Drools project (using the New Drools Project wizard or by converting an existing Java project to a Drools project using the "Convert to Drools Project" action that is shown when you are in the Drools perspective and you right-click an existing Java project), the plugin will automatically add all the required jars to the classpath of your project.

When creating a new Drools project, the plugin will automatically use the default Drools runtime for that project, unless you specify a project-specific one. You can do this in the final step of the New Drools Project wizard, as shown below, by deselecting the "Use default Drools runtime" checkbox and selecting the appropriate runtime in the drop-down box. If you click the "Configure workspace settings ..." link, the workspace preferences showing the currently installed Drools runtimes will be opened, so you can add new runtimes there.

You can change the runtime of a Drools project at any time by opening the project properties (right-click the project and select Properties) and selecting the Drools category, as shown below. Check the "Enable project specific settings" checkbox and select the appropriate runtime from the drop-down box. If you click the "Configure workspace settings ..." link, the workspace preferences showing the currently installed Drools runtimes will be opened, so you can add new runtimes there. If you deselect the "Enable project specific settings" checkbox, it will use the default runtime as defined in your global preferences.

The source code of each maven artifact is available in the JBoss maven repository as a source jar. The same source jars are also included in the download zips. However, if you want to build from source, it's highly recommended to get our sources from our source control.

Drools and jBPM use Git for source control. The blessed git repositories are hosted on Github:

Git allows you to fork our code, independently make personal changes on it, yet still merge in our latest changes regularly and optionally share your changes with us. To learn more about git, read the free book Git Pro.