Friday, February 19, 2010

PDE will tell you

We're experimenting with a lot of new technology in e4 and with different development paradigms. It's all good. But development on 3.x and with PDE will continue for many years to come, and PDE has some often overlooked tools that can really help you develop your plugin and find your IDs.

1) Plug-in Selection Spy (ALT+SHIFT+F1) activate a part or dialog page and hit ALT+SHIFT+F1. Plug-in spy will open a popup and describe the contents (at least it will try). It will provide information about what ID and implementation class the focus part has, as well as which plugin contributed it, what are the active identifiers (menu, help, etc) and what type is the selection that part publishes.

2) Plug-in Menu Spy (ALT+SHIFT+F2). Hit ALT+SHIFT+F2 and then pick a menu item. The popup will provide information about where that item lives, action ID, command IDs if available, etc.

3) In the PDE Editor, the Browse... button. Many extensions need IDs provided in another extension. For example a menu contribution (org.eclipse.ui.menus) needs a commandId (org.eclipse.ui.commands). If you are asked to fill in an ID and there is a Browse... button, use it. It will give you a filterable list, and cuts down on cut&paste errors.

These 3 are examples of PDE tools that you probably don't use very often, but when you need them they're *really* helpful.

Friday, February 05, 2010

e4 and "early" compatibility

As the model for the e4 workbench stabilizes we're back working hard on the compatibility layer. Right now it consists of the gutted org.eclipse.ui.workbench plugin. The idea is to support the API we have in org.eclipse.workbench, but based on the e4 workbench model and e4 services, instead of the mass of internal code in parts, perspectives, and presentations.

We're taking a 2 pronged approach. Creating an e4 IDE application and slowly adding useful views and actions, seeing what is needed to bring them up. We want to support a useful number of views (like the Project Explorer and Problems view) sooner rather than later.

We're also running the org.eclipse.ui.tests.api.ApiTestSuite (after cleaning up internal references in the tests themselves with the aid of a tweaklet). ApiTestSuite covers the most common scenarios (opening and closing windows, perspectives, views, and editors), and supporting our API is a good way to help 3.x plugins run on e4 with the compatibility layer.

There's always a lot to do, so if you are interested please check out You can also post to the e4-dev mailing list, or join us on irc at irc://