zaterdag, juli 21, 2007

Eclipse Europa: It's all in the details

Eclipse has always been a platform where a lot of work went into the details (usability and visual design). The new 3.3 release is no different.

The last couple of weeks quite a few reviews of the Eclipse Europa release have popped up. This latest release of the Eclipse platform seems to motivate people to write down what they think of it. Most reviews focus on one or more of the larger components in the release (JDT, PDE, Mylyn or CDT) or some of the major new features (SWT on Vista or Mozilla everywhere).

In my opinion, the people that implemented some of the smaller features (that focus on the overall usability of the platform) also deserve some praise:

Spell check in Commit dialog: The Commit dialog uses the built-in Eclipse spell checker to highlight spelling errors in commit messages. This should help me to prevent typing commit messages like "Fixed spellling mistakes." (No kidding... At work I actually have a commit message like that engraved in our CVS logs. Doh!)

Code clean up on save: It is now possible to automatically invoke code clean up whenever the Java editor is saved. This will help to keep the code in a version control repository nice and clean according to the code style guidelines of your specific organization.

Cheat sheet editor: PDE now provides a cheat sheet editor to let you compose cheat sheets (complete with embedded workbench commands and links to the help documentation). This lowers the barrier for writing cheat sheets - no more need to fiddle with an XML editor - and it will certainly help us to get more cheat sheets in our product.

Help breadcrumbs: Help displays a series of links called breadcrumbs at the top of each document that appears in the table of contents. These allow for easier navigation and provide more information about the context of the document being viewed. Additionally it makes it a lot easier to copy/paste the path of a document in the table of contents.

Categorized help search: Help search results are categorized by book in the help window. This makes it a lot easier to locate the best results when looking for specific information.

Improved display of table of contents: The performance of displaying the table of contents of a book has been improved considerably. It's nice to see that performance enhancements are being made in all areas of the platform (not just the 'mission critical' ones).

All these 'little things' add up quickly. They make sure that Eclipse remains a platform that is fun to work with. Be sure to check them out!

5 opmerkingen:

  1. Cool review. I didn't notice the spell check in the CVS commit area but, it appears to be everywhere.

    The best part is ctrl+1 gives autofix for spelling errors.

    This review has got to be guaranteed to get you a tshirt.

  2. Regarding "Spell check in Commit dialog":

    The dialog you're showing is actually the Subclipse Commit dialog, not part of the Eclipse Europa releases at all. Subclipse borrows heavily from the similar CVS parts, but the code which enables the spell cheking is explicitly doing this using APIs from Eclipse 3.1.

    The code to check spelling and highlight errors were introduced into Subclipse 9 months back.

    The spell checker just defaulted to "off" for versions prior to 3.3.
    Two valuable lessons could be learned from this:
    * The devil is in the details.
    * There's no free lunch.

    Other than that: Nice tips.

  3. nysgerrig: You are correct. That screenshot is indeed the Subclipse commit dialog of a project using Subversion. The point that spell checking of commit messages is a nice feature is of course valid for both CVS and Subversion (or in fact any other type of repository). Thanks for your feedback.

  4. Thanks for the Tips!

    Get that T-Shirt!

  5. I just go my shirt and it's really a polo. Very nice.