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Eclipse Special: Bill Dudney Looks at New Stuff in M9
Eclipse Special: Bill Dudney Looks at New Stuff in M9

  • To view our full selection of recent Eclipse stories click here

    M9 has been out now for a couple of weeks, and wow, has the Eclipse team made some major progress!

    The tool has lots of new features (which we will look at shortly) but also has some great performance fixes and fleshing out of existing features. In particular the Ant editor works like a champ now and I've not had the frustrating lags in property name completion that were so prevalent in M8. Another minor but cool (to me anyway) feature is that new views open on the left-hand side now. For whatever reason (I'm not sure myself) I like this better than opening on the right, seems to be more organized or something. Anyway the release is great, and as I write this RC3 is being prepared (the last release candidate before 3.0 ships) so this will be the last milestone build update.

    There are lots of other improvements that I'll try to comment on as I go through the New & Noteworthy stuff found on the Eclipse site.

  • Switching Workspaces - This is a great feature that has been needed for a long time. There are of course ways to organize your source other than putting it into different workspaces, but I find this very handy for dealing with large unrelated code bases. It will make performance much better on very large code bases from two different projects that are not directly related.

  • 2.1 UI - Many people are really glad to see the 2.1 UI back, I'm not one of them. Although the 3.0 UI is the default and you have to explicitly change to the 2.1 so no harm no foul.

  • Progress Dialog - Very cool stuff, this is a very nice way to manage all the background tasks that can be running at once. There are some really cool things that this view does, too. When you do a CVS update the task stays in the progress view and has a link to take you to the Synchronization view for that update, very cool indeed! You can also cancel any running task as well as see the details on what is happening with each task.

  • Modal Dialogs - Modal dialogs also allow you to move the task into the background. You can also specify in the preferences that you always want tasks to run in the background.

  • Perspective Switcher - The perspective switcher is now dockable in three places, left, top left, top right (the default). This is great if you frequently have to switch between perspectives. I use it all the time to jump from the Debug perspective back to the Java perspective.

  • Fast View - The fast view bar can also be docked, bottom left (default), top left, top right. Great if you use fast views (I never got into them).

  • Safari is the Browser on OSX - Groovy, enough said.

  • Rich Text in SWT StyledText widget - The Java editor now supports italic fonts, great stuff and nice to see. This feature is kind of irritating though since it had to be reinvented in SWT. (I just have to get in my SWT jibes...)

  • System Images and Cursors - Nice addition, looks more like the underlying platform this way.

  • Non-uniform file encodings - Very cool for those that need it. You can specify a different encoding for a file or folder (or even at the project level).

  • Shared Annotations and Quick Diff preferences - Fantastic! The Java, Text, and Ant editors now share the same set of base preferences and other editors can also chain into the preference set with a simple extension. Long needed and very good to see! One gotcha though, when you upgrade to M9 your old Java editor settings will be lost and replaced with the defaults for this new preferences scheme.

  • Color Customization - You can specify the color of selected text now. Mostly an eye-candy feature in my mind and I doubt I'll be changing the default unless it become hideous :-)

  • Folding! - Not my favorite feature but lots of people have been asking. The text team even made this one extensible so you can make your own editor folding aware. If you hover over the icon representing the folded code you get to see it in a popup. Very cool stuff! Currently import statements, comments, types, and method bodies can be folded. The cool this is that plugins can define additional folding regions so the code could fold differently if you install a plugin or write your own. You can control the folding options in the preferences for the Java Editor. Perhaps we will see the Ant editor able to fold in 3.1? I hope so.

  • Headless Annotation Support - While I've not needed access to the annotations in a headless manner, it's great to see some attention being paid to things that don't really need the GUI to work. In one of the plugins I had to write we needed some functionality that was only available when the GUI was present, but the feature did not really have anything to do with the GUI. (We were adding a jar to the classpath from the command line.)

  • Search and Replace Supports RegEX! - Not quite emacs but getting closer! I love this feature. I don't have to use it that often but I was switching to emacs to get it when needed. Now I won't have to.

  • Refreshed Help Look - Help refreshed to look like the rest of Eclipse. Good to see but not high on my list.

  • Maximize Help Views - A help view can now be maximized or minimized. This is nice to see since often times I was contorting the window to see something that was not visible in the default layout

  • Faster Doc Installation - New docs do not require a restart of Eclipse anymore. This will be a great time saver for frequently updated plugin docs (i.e. during plugin development).

  • Improved BIDI Help UI - BiDirectional language improvements. Great if you need them

  • Consolidated locally installed sites - This is a very welcome feature, anything that can be done to clean up the update features is a very good thing in my mind.

  • Semantic highlighting - This is a very cool feature. The default color scheme is very noisy though. I'd prefer fewer colors and better use of italics/bold. This basically allows the various pieces of the code (fields, local variables, parameters etc) to be highlighted in a different color/style.

  • Additional Stuff in Java Working Sets - This is a welcome feature for working on Eclipse its self especially. Basically you can create a project for your documentation and have pieces of that project be in your working set.

  • Overridden Methods Obvious - Very nice feature. IntelliJ has had this for a while so Eclipse was playing catch-up. I wish now that Eclipse would add a "down arrow" to the methods in an interface so we could very easily navigate to all the implementers of the selected method from an interface.

  • Case Insensitive Task Tags - Simple but cool, now you can use TODO or todo and both will be marked as tasks (unless the Microsoft Patent forces the removal of this feature).

  • Templates Provide Proposals - in expanding a template if there is more than one guess that would fit the variable then you are presented with a list of options. Very cool!

  • The Extract Method Refactoring - The refactoring is now able to extract methods into a containing type. For example if you have an inner class that implements the foo method you can extract that method into the containing class with the Extract Method refactoring. Previously you had to do this extraction manually by cut and paste. Very nice.

  • Method Exit Point Highlighting - Hold your cursor over the return type of a method and all the return statements light up like Christmas trees. Very good for trying to understand those 900 line methods in the next Architectural Assessment I have to do :-)

  • Source and Refactoring Quick Menus - Alt+Shift+S for source and Alt+Shift+T for refactoring. Why isn't the refactoring an R? Not sure but R is probably take by another command. Anyway this is a great thing for productivity for old time emacs'ers like me.

  • Extract Local Refactoring Improved - This refactoring now supplies reasonable guesses for local variable names. The Convert Local Variable to Field also got the same makeover. Great! However I now have additional stuff to do for Chapters 7 & 8 in the Eclipse 3 Live title...

  • NLS Wizard Improved - If you need to internationalize your apps this will be a big win. The wizard now understands files that were already NLS'd by it or you.

  • Update Imports on Paste - No longer do we have to do Organize Imports to get the imports straight after a paste. Eclipse keeps track of what is needed from a copy so when you paste it updates the imports automatically. Great just what we need making it easier to copy and paste code :-)

  • More Quickfixes - There are several but my favorite is the "add a cast" fix. If you have a mismatched type or an unknown method you can cast the object to be the correct type from a quick fix. I love these things!

  • Code Assist Create Get/Set pair - I always use the Source -> Generate Get/Set so I'm not sure how useful this will be esp. since you can get to the Source menu with Alt-Shift-S. Cool feature though.

  • Filtered Searches - Java searches can now be filtered to exclude imports and javadoc comments and others. The searching in Eclipse is already fantastic, this is just icing on the cake.

  • Empty Control Flow marked - Wow, would this have been helpful in my C/C++ days. I once spent hours trying to figure out a bug and it boiled down to if(flag);. Note the ; at the end of the if statement. Well now Eclipse marks these really irritating things for me so I won't be running into this problem again! :-)

  • Undefined Type More Clearly Identified - Classpath problems are usually the cause of this error. With this new feature you will be taken to the particular spot in the code where the incomplete class is found, leading more quickly to a resolution of the problem.

  • Inclusion Pattern for Source Folders - Cool feature, a lot like Ant's include and exclude elements for filesets.

  • J2SE 1.5 Early Preview - Very cool indeed, you can start to play around with the 1.5 stuff in Eclipse even before its fully supported.

  • PDE Updated - The PDE has be significantly updated to match the new look of Eclipse with lots of bug fixes and a consolidated editor for all the config stuff (.xml files, .properties file etc). The plugin editor is also more tightly integrated with the JDT so the experience is more consistent. There's also a bit of OGSi support. Can't wait to see full OGSi support!

  • PDE Extensible Point Added - We can now add additional editors to the PDE editor.

  • CVS Checkout Wizard - The new project wizard now allows you to choose a CVS Repository to create from. Cool feature and seems like a more natural place for this to be than the CVS Repository view (context menu -> Check Out...).

  • CVS Commit Set - I love this feature! You can now look at changes grouped logically by commit comment, committer and date. You can get at this feature from the pull down in the Synchronize view.

  • CVS Password Management - You can clear out the passwords that Eclipse is storing for you in the preferences.

  • CVS Command Line Compatibility - You can now make the CVS meta-data command line compatible even if you are using one of the extended connection methods provided by Eclipse. You can configure this in the preferences for CVS.

  • CVS Server Encoding - Various encoding methods are now supported from the CVS preferences. Very cool if you need it.

  • CVS Date Tags - You can now create date tags from CVS Repository view or any tag selection page. Now if we could remember to make the tags…

  • Running from Context Menu - The context menu in the package viewer and the Outline now support running and debugging. If you select a test method you can run that method alone. Wasn't this already supported in 2.x?

  • Breakpoints Grok Refactoring - Breakpoints are updated after a refactoring, very cool stuff.

  • Debugging in current Perspective - You can debug from any perspective now. This is a great feature but I find it opens a lot of views in the Java perspective. Not annoying really, just surprising the first few times I used it.

  • Ant Editor and Custom Tasks - The ant editor does a better job of understand custom tags now, so you can get code assist for the custom tags that you are using. This is a great feature especially since I hate to go look at docs when I'm writing my build files :-).

  • Ant Editor Preferences Page Offers Preview - You can now see what effect your changes will have on your build files in a preview. Great addition, the ant editor suite is really maturing.

  • Ant Templates - You can write your own templates now for your Ant build files!
  • About Bill Dudney
    Bill Dudney is Editor-in-Chief of Eclipse Developer's Journal and serves too as JDJ's Eclipse editor. He is a Practice Leader with Virtuas Solutions and has been doing Java development since late 1996 after he downloaded his first copy of the JDK. Prior to Virtuas, Bill worked for InLine Software on the UML bridge that tied UML Models in Rational Rose and later XMI to the InLine suite of tools. Prior to getting hooked on Java he built software on NeXTStep (precursor to Apple's OSX). He has roughly 15 years of distributed software development experience starting at NASA building software to manage the mass properties of the Space Shuttle.

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    Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

    wanted eclipse pages to sense any operating system and

    browser {this library here is mozzilla } such that your

    eclipse page contains html that makes modern things such as

    Ant Templates Ant Editor Preferences Page Offers Preview Ant Editor and Custom Tasks Debugging in current Perspective
    Breakpoints Grok Refactoring Running from Context Menu CVS Date Tags CVS Server Encoding CVS Command Line Compatibility CVS Password Management CVS Commit Set CVS Checkout Wizard PDE Extensible Point Added # PDE Updated
    J2SE 1.5 Early Preview Inclusion Pattern for Source Folders
    Undefined Type More Clearly Identified Empty Control Flow marked Filtered Searches Code Assist Create Get/Set pair
    More Quickfixes Update Imports on Paste NLS Wizard Improved
    Extract Local Refactoring Improved Source and Refactoring Quick Menus Method Exit Point Highlighting The Extract Method Refactoring Templates Provide Proposals Case Insensitive Task Tags Overridden Methods Obvious Additional Stuff in Java Working Sets Semantic highlighting Consolidated locally installed sites Improved BIDI Help UI
    Faster Doc Installation Maximize Help Views Refreshed Help Look Search and Replace Supports RegEX! Headless Annotation Support Folding! Color Customization Shared Annotations and Quick Diff preferences Non-uniform file encodings System Images and Cursors Rich Text in SWT StyledText widget Safari is the Browser on OSX Fast View Perspective Switcher
    Modal Dialogs Progress Dialog 2.1 UI Switching Workspaces

    Sounds like eclipse is really coming along...they seem to have almost every feature which is available in Visual Studio.NET! (ohhh, plus Ant support) :-P

    Hi asdf,

    I was attempting to be funny not hostile. I had forgotten that I used "jibes" first (next time I''ll try to pay more attention to what the comment is refering to). Sorry if I seemed hostile.

    I have used Eclipse on the mac quite a bit. In fact the whole Eclipse 3 Live book (from www.sourcebeat.com) was written on a mac. I love Eclipse on the mac. Some of the performance issues could very well be platform related and not directly related to a poor SWT implementation on the platform.

    I poke at SWT because I want Eclipse (IBM) and Sun to get together and figure out a solution (JSR, Eclipse on Swing, whatever). I don''t really care what the solution is per-se I just want one that will give tools vendors the ability to write plugins faster and easier so I can get my favorite tooling sooner.

    Thanks for your comments. I really don''t intend to be hostile.

    I used the word "jibes" only because you used the word in your article. Why are you so hostile? I took no "jibe" at you.

    Have you actually tried Eclipse on a Mac? It''s fast. Swing is also slower on platforms other than Windows. In the case of Linux, it has to do with X windows and the imaging support that forces images to be passed over the wire.

    Well asdf, if that is your real name :-)

    I don''t take jibes at SWT. I state what I think without jeering, taunting or heckling. The people that build SWT are very smart, SWT is really cool but its a complete redo of Swing/AWT. I don''t think we need the bifurcation. I don''t really care about the debate, I just want the write once, run anywhere hype to actually be real.

    IOW - I want to be able to use the wonderful application that you write on the mac and have as wonderful of an expierence as you do on a PC.

    SWT is much slower on the mac than on the PC and from what I''ve heard its much much slower on Linux. A large group of people spent years getting Swing performance to be decent, now am I going to have to wait years to get good performance of SWT on the mac? I''d really rather not.

    Now asdf are you through taking jibes at me? :-)

    Bill, why do you feel the need to get in jibes about SWT? It's the reason that Eclipse is so good and can take on Microsoft. It just wouldn't be happening with Swing.


    Your Feedback
    lawrence hordy wrote: wanted eclipse pages to sense any operating system and browser {this library here is mozzilla } such that your eclipse page contains html that makes modern things such as Ant Templates Ant Editor Preferences Page Offers Preview Ant Editor and Custom Tasks Debugging in current Perspective Breakpoints Grok Refactoring Running from Context Menu CVS Date Tags CVS Server Encoding CVS Command Line Compatibility CVS Password Management CVS Commit Set CVS Checkout Wizard PDE Extensible Point Added # PDE Updated J2SE 1.5 Early Preview Inclusion Pattern for Source Folders Undefined Type More Clearly Identified Empty Control Flow marked Filtered Searches Code Assist Create Get/Set pair More Quickfixes Update Imports on Paste NLS Wizard Improved Extract Local Refactoring Improved Source and Refactoring Quick Menus Method Exit Point Highlighting The Extract Method Refactor...
    Matt wrote: Sounds like eclipse is really coming along...they seem to have almost every feature which is available in Visual Studio.NET! (ohhh, plus Ant support) :-P
    Bill Dudney wrote: Hi asdf, I was attempting to be funny not hostile. I had forgotten that I used "jibes" first (next time I''ll try to pay more attention to what the comment is refering to). Sorry if I seemed hostile. I have used Eclipse on the mac quite a bit. In fact the whole Eclipse 3 Live book (from www.sourcebeat.com) was written on a mac. I love Eclipse on the mac. Some of the performance issues could very well be platform related and not directly related to a poor SWT implementation on the platform. I poke at SWT because I want Eclipse (IBM) and Sun to get together and figure out a solution (JSR, Eclipse on Swing, whatever). I don''t really care what the solution is per-se I just want one that will give tools vendors the ability to write plugins faster and easier so I can get my favorite tooling sooner. Thanks for your comments. I really don''t intend to be hostile.
    asdf wrote: I used the word "jibes" only because you used the word in your article. Why are you so hostile? I took no "jibe" at you. Have you actually tried Eclipse on a Mac? It''s fast. Swing is also slower on platforms other than Windows. In the case of Linux, it has to do with X windows and the imaging support that forces images to be passed over the wire.
    Bill Dudney wrote: Well asdf, if that is your real name :-) I don''t take jibes at SWT. I state what I think without jeering, taunting or heckling. The people that build SWT are very smart, SWT is really cool but its a complete redo of Swing/AWT. I don''t think we need the bifurcation. I don''t really care about the debate, I just want the write once, run anywhere hype to actually be real. IOW - I want to be able to use the wonderful application that you write on the mac and have as wonderful of an expierence as you do on a PC. SWT is much slower on the mac than on the PC and from what I''ve heard its much much slower on Linux. A large group of people spent years getting Swing performance to be decent, now am I going to have to wait years to get good performance of SWT on the mac? I''d really rather not. Now asdf are you through taking jibes at me? :-)
    asdf wrote: Bill, why do you feel the need to get in jibes about SWT? It's the reason that Eclipse is so good and can take on Microsoft. It just wouldn't be happening with Swing.
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