Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eclipse Ganymede

Eclipse Ganymede is the annual release of Eclipse projects; this year including 23 projects. Some highlights of the release include the new p2 provisioning platform, new Equinox security features, new Ecore modeling tools, support for SOA and much more.

I have been using the new Eclipse Ganymede release for about two weeks now and think its time to write a review and share some of my experiences with the rest of the developer community. On the whole, I think the new release is as snappy as previous versions and brings some welcome improvements. Here are some of the features that I really like in this release:

Breadcrumbs:
The editor now displays a breadcrumb navigation bar showing the path to the current file. You can easily access the project and package structure as well as the individual classes, fields and methods from the bar itself. I really like this feature because I no longer have to keep my Package Explorer and Outline views open, thus saving on precious screen estate.

Enhanced Hover:
In the previous version, you had to use the awkward keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+1 on top of an Error or Warning to get the Quick Fix options. In Ganymede, all you have to do is hover over the problem and it pops up a window with links to the options. Great!

Highlight Read/Write Variables:
A small but useful addition to this release is that Mark Occurrences (Alt+Shift+O) now marks read and write accesses with different colours. Previously, Eclipse offered the ability to highlight all occurrences of a variable but now it distinguishes between read and writes for you.

Call Hierarchy for Fields and Types:
This allows you to find all the members which access the field (for read or write) and the constructors of a type. Previously, you could only find callers of a method.

Support for External Class Folders
Class folders located outside the workspace (external) can now be added to the build path. Previously, I had to build a jar file and then add it using "Add External JARs" so this is a welcome improvement! You can even add other kinds of zip archives to the build path e.g. RAR files.

Performance:
To be honest, I haven't noticed any increase or decrease in either the start-up time or interaction with the user interface. However, there has reportedly been a lot of internal improvement to the JDT compiler so that compilation can now be spread across multiple cores rather than being able to utilise only one. This should speed up build times.

There are still many more things for me to try out. In particular I would really like to try out the Test and Performance Tools Platform Project.

Got your own experiences with Ganymede? Share them in the comments.

For more details:
What's New in 3.4 (JDT)
Learn more about Ganymede

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