The IDE greatly simplifies working with organization setups. Over at, Steve Andersen has noticed how much time you can save when using the IDE to set up new organizations based on a template:

each customer I deal with, the Metadata API will save me 6 hours [out
of 8] of point and clicking in page layouts…. If you’re a consultant,
you need to use the IDE and the Metadata API. It’s a massive
time-saver and will only get better as more things are added”

Jesse Lorenz liked Steve’s blog as well and posted a great article on how to deploy the smallest possible org configuration with the IDE.

The Metadata API is what makes the IDE
tick. It lets you access and manipulate all the setup details of your organization. For example, you can setup your own custom
objects, complete with Apex code and custom layouts all by executing
calls on the metadata API. You can do this through the IDE or
you can write your own client code that accesses the SOAP version of
the metadata API directly. We also provide a tool called the
Migration Tool that can migrate an organization using the metadata API
and some Ant tasks without using Eclipse or having to roll your own
thing. Jon Mountjoy wrote a good intro to this tool in an earlier post.

the upcoming Winter ‘09 release we’re adding even more features to the
metadata API. We’ll be adding a new listMetadata() API call that
retrieves property information about metadata components in your
organization. This call is useful when you want to identify individual
components in package.xml for a retrieve() call or if you want a
high-level view of particular components in your organization. For
example, you could use this call to return a list of names of all the
CustomObject or Layout components in your organization, and use this
information to make a subsequent retrieve() call to return a subset of
these components.

We’re also extending the metadata API support to additional components such as

  • Email Attachment
  • Custom Labels
  • Custom Report
  • Report Type
  • Dashboard
  • List View
  • Search Layout
  • Translations
  • CustomObjectTranslations

You can get more detail about current and upcoming metadata API features in the Winter ’09 pre-release of the reference documentation.

you ever need to set up multiple organizations with similar structures
either inside one large enterprise or for your clients, the metadata
API offers big productivity gains while giving you granular control
over your deployments. The use cases addressed by the API will only
continue to grow as we extend its coverage over the next and future

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