Java IDE Improvements, Top Eclipse Helios Feature #7

As Eclipse committers, we spend lots of time emphasizing that Eclipse is not just an Integrated Development Environment. Eclipse is a framework, a tooling platform, a collection of run-time technologies, an eco-system, etc… However, at the end of the day, an IDE is the primary use of Eclipse for many people.

As we approach the next major release of the Eclipse platform — Helios — I’ve been counting down the features I’m most excited about. Number 7 on my list are the Enhancements to Eclipse as an IDE. These are features that will make your life easier as a developer (many of these features are Java specific, but not all).

The Java Development Team has released a number of new code formatter options:

While these are cool, the most exciting one (in my opinion) is the ability to disable formatting for certain code blocks

There are even a number of improvements to comment formatting.

As well as code formatting, the JDT team has introduced some new capabilities including: a breakpoint details pane

object instance counts

and static analysis improvements:

Huge kudos go the very active JDT team, including: Jayaprakash Arthanareeswaran, Deepak Azad, Frederic Fusier, Walter Harley, Ayushman Jain, Satyam Kandula, Markus Keller, Dani Megert, Kim Moir, Michael Rennie, Srikanth Sankaran, Olivier Thomann, Raksha Vasisht, Curtis Windatt and Darin Wright.  Over the next year the JDT team will be focusing on Java 7 support. If you are interested in helping with this effort, why not get involved?

In addition to Java specific enhancements, the Eclipse Platform team has been working on general IDE improvements.  One feature that really caught my eye was improved patch support.  Last year the Platform team improved the Java Compare Editor. However, these changes did not extend to the apply patch wizard.  As of Eclipse 3.6 this doesn’t matter because you can now use the synchronize perspective to apply patches:

This makes patch review a much easier process, especially since you can now apply a patch directly from a URL:

The Platform team (especially Tomasz Zarna and Szymon Brandys) deserve the credit for this work.  Thanks everyone for making my life as a Java Developer easier.

13 Responses to “Java IDE Improvements, Top Eclipse Helios Feature #7”

  1. Kim Moir says:

    Great post, I really like the changes that were made by the JDT team and the patch support is much improved. I don’t think my name should be in the the JDT team list. I have commit rights but that it just by virtue of my releng role :-)

  2. Lars Vogel says:

    I think a big outstanding change in JDT is to get open for other languages, e.g. Groovy or Scala. AFAIK it is currently difficult for them to integrate with JDT closely. Also I believe it is unfortunate that once Java7 will be released the Eclipse JDT may not be ready. This might give other IDEs a push.

  3. Ian Bull says:

    @kim, you likely deserve Kudos on each one of these platform features. :-). There is a reason you have commit rights, and it’s because you keep all of us on track.

    @Lars. Re: other languages, I think Andrew Eisenberg has battled this problem throughout the years. As for Java 7 features, why don’t you think the JDT will be ready (and other IDEs will be)? Just because our release schedule is 6mo after Java 7 is due out, or are we behind on the implementation.

    If it’s the former, the JDT could always put out a release ahead of June — I assume this is possible.

  4. florin says:

    Why does ecplise insists so madly that I should install/re-install mylyn? I really don’t need that clutter.

  5. Ralf Zahn says:

    This is a nice feature, but I’m wondering that the format-on/off switch can be placed within Javadoc, because this text is parsed by the JDT and interpreted as part of the comment or part of a tag’s value within the AST.
    Because formatting is only a responsibility within sources, it should only be possible within source comments that are ignored by the AST parser.

  6. Ian Bull says:

    @florin: I’m not sure what you mean? There are several different ‘flavours’ or distributions of Eclipse. Many come with a pre-canned set of plugins (for example, the C/C++ one comes with the C Development Tools installed). If you just want the Eclipse SDK (no extra plugins at all), download the one called Eclipse Classic.

    @Ralf. I think you can place the format on / off in both types of comments. It’s a good question, I’ll try this out.

  7. florin says:

    I’m an IDEA guy. Whenever I download Eclipse I get frustrated with the way it handles plugins. If I try the EE version, mylyn comes with it. I need to go through hoops to get rid of it. Why can’t one just click a button to uninstall plugins? Probably it’s been improved lately, yet this is one of the main reasons I decided to pay for my IDE rather than spend time with unnecessary configuration of the IDE or deleting jars from the plugins directory.

  8. Lars Vogel says:

    @ian The comment wrt Java7 is based on the 6 month delay. 6 months are a lot in the IT world.

  9. keruke says:

    I have used eclipse and netbeans for java developing, I don’t why eclipse not have a good code formatting for xhtml and in general web pages.

    Normally I use netbeans for web developing, I think that has a excelent code formatter for web pages, you can navigate from JSF EL expressions to backed beans and has a excelent code assist in the web developing. I don’t nkow why eclipse not has the same functionality and as far as I seen, the helios version not has any additional functions that help in web develop, but eclipse is excelent in debug perspective, but one again, I don’t know why the lack of functionality in the web pages, maybe I could not see the correct plugging or configuration but I thing that eclipse need a strong improve in the web developing.

    Excuse me my english mistakes, and thank you very much for your post.

  10. Ian Bull says:

    @keruke, My top 10 list are things that I know and use, and sadly, I don’t do a lot of web development. However, there is an entire project (a set of tools) at Eclipse called the: Web Tools Project. From what I understand, they have very good HTML, XHTML and XML editors. If you are interested in this you should try the Eclipse IDE for EE developers. I think this distribution has the editors you are looking for.

  11. someone says:

    please please allow folding of comments and of regions (as of C#) .
    this is a very good and simple feature to have, in order to simplify reading.

  12. Luís Carlos Moreira da Costa says:

    Great post!


  13. oblio says:

    @Lars Vogel:
    Some projects are at the Java 1.4 stage. The vast majority are based on Java 1.5. A select few are using Java 1.6.

    6 months are nothing in the programming language/platform world. This is not the gaming industry :)

13 responses so far

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