Any message thread that hasn't been used in over a year stands a good chance that the people who participated have moved on to other projects, and often to other jobs. So they may not even be listening any more.
There are 2 likely suspects in problems like the one mentioned. First, older J2EE servers (such as Tomcat 5) didn't include EL support at the server level. Secondly, the EL and JSF expression handlers went through some fairly radical changes in the past few years. Which is one reason why it's better to avoid coding things this way - stuff broke when JSF2 came out.
An IDE is no substitute for an Intelligent Developer.