Eclipse robobait: preview method's code in place

Posted in Eclipse, programmer productivity, robobait at 10:38 pm by ducky


I am doing a observational study of people using Eclipse, and I saw one of the users doing something that looked really useful.

If you hover over a Java element (type, method, or field), then you see the Javadocs for that element. Yeah, old news. You do that seventy times per day already.

If you shift-hover over a Java element, then it shows you the method’s source intead of the Javadocs!

This is a great way to get a peek down a navigation path before commiting to it.


robobait: difficulties setting up Eclipse for plug-in development

Posted in Eclipse, Hacking, robobait at 10:40 am by ducky

It took me way longer than it should have to get setup for my current project. I need to change some very fundamental behaviours of Eclipse. There is a plugin that does 80% of what I want, so I need to modify it.

I checked the plugin out of Eclipse’s CVS, but I couldn’t get at the Eclipse source (e.g. when I tried to do F3 or control-click on a class or method). I tried downloading the entire Eclipse source, but

  • I got tons of errors because the projects weren’t set up right to refer to each other, and setting them up by hand would have been a nightmare.
  • Everything got dog-slow.


It turns out that I needed to first download the plugin from CVS, then convert it to a plug-in project. (Right-click on the project, then select PDE Tools, then select Convert Projects to Plug-in Projects.)

That gave me access to a lot of source, but not all of what I needed. To get other source, I needed to do

File -> Import -> Plugin&Fragments -> Project with source folder

then select the packages that I wanted the source for, Add, and then Finish.

Keywords: eclipse development, all eclipse source, attach source eclipse


semi-robobait: macros in Eclipse

Posted in Eclipse, Hacking, programmer productivity, robobait at 3:26 pm by ducky

Cool! Eclipse has keyboard macros! Eclipse calls them “Editor Templates”, and has a bunch of them predefined. For example, if you type

sysout Cntl-SPACE

it converts that into


with the cursor in the middle of the parens. Similarly, if you type

for Cntl-SPACE

you’ll get a short menu of options; selecting the first one (“iterate over array”) magically converts into

for (int i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {


with the first “i” selected If you type in “fooIndex”, then all the “i”s in the line change to “fooIndex”. Pressing tab takes you to the “array”, where you can then type in the name of the array. Press return, and then you are sent to the middle of the curly braces.


My old housemate, Chris Beekhuis, once set up macros like this and said that it made his coding significantly faster. I’m very much looking forward to using Editor Templates, and am a little puzzled as to why their existence isn’t being shouted from the rooftops. (Or was it? Did I have my headphones in at the time?)

(To see all of the pre-defined macros — or to define your own — go to Window->Preferences->Java->Editor->Templates. Or press Control-3, type “template”, and Editor Templates will be one of the options.)


semi-robobait: way cool Eclipse keyboard shortcuts

Posted in Eclipse, Hacking, programmer productivity, robobait at 12:07 pm by ducky

I found two really cool Eclipse keyboard shortcuts today.

  • Quick Access (Control-3): This brings up a dialog box. Start typing, and it will present a selection list of windows whose title contains the text you just typed. Thus, if you type “expl”, it will present “Package Explorer”, “CVS Package Explorer”, “Project Explorer”, and so on. You can also type the names of the files that you have open, e.g. “foo” to get “Foo.java” as a selection option. (It does not take you to method names or classes, just window names.) Way cool. I think I’m never touching the mouse again. Ever.
  • Word Completion (Alt-/), aka “hippy completion”: When you are editingcode, you can type a few letters, then Alt-/, and Eclipse will fill in the rest of the word with a guess as to what you meant. For example, if I type “Fo”+Alt-/, it might present “FooFactory” first, then “FooTemplate”, then “ForeignFilmDatabase”, etc. When it reaches imagination failure, goes back to the first one. It is case-aware, so it would not present “for” or “format” or “foo”. It seems to be pretty clever about its guesses, too.


software tools: EclEmma

Posted in Eclipse, programmer productivity at 8:09 pm by ducky

In a previous post, I said that I thought it would be handy to have your source editor color code based on which lines were executed in the prior execution of the code. I mused about merging Eclipse with a profiler in that post, but later realized that I could also use a code completion tool… and then discovered someone had already done it. EclEmma is a fine code coverage tool that is nicely integrated with Eclipse and does exactly what I want.

EclEmma isn’t positioned as a debugging tool, but it sure can be used as one.

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