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Effective IDE Usage by Rabea Gransberger


IDEs are a very personal thing. One might favor IntelliJ IDEA over Eclipse or vice versa with the same kind of gusto as someone who supports a soccer or baseball team. Rabea Gransberger gives her very first session on the vJUG to explain to us how we can use our IDEs more effectively. Rabea lives in Bremen in Germany and is an Eclipse user herself. She is also the co-organiser of the Bremen JUG.

Throughout the demo sections of the session, Rabea uses a net Eclipse plugin called MouseFeed, which she adapted to show you which shortcut you’re currently using when you type a keyboard shortcut and also provides you with the NetBeans and IntelliJ equivalent. Useful if you’re considering switching, or if you use multiple IDEs.

A lot of the session was demo, which you can see in full in the video below. But you can also see the slides underneath.

Note that this session was not about IDE shortcuts. If you’re into shortcuts and keybindings, and want to learn more about different IDEs approach to those, check out the:
TOP Java IDE Keyboard Shortcuts report.

Here’s some of the highlights from the session.

Use your History

Whether or not you’re using version control or not in your projects, IDEs also provide a version history that allows you to roll your local files back to a previous state. You can set how long you want your IDE to hold your history for, but be careful not to let this just grow, otherwise your IDE can become slow!

You’re not my Type

A great tip Rabea gives can be a fix to a common annoyance many experience when they’re trying to auto import a type they’re using in their code. Your IDE may well provide you with a vast number of options, most of which are useless to you now and 99% of the time. I mean really, have you ever used an java.awt.List? :) Rabea takes you through the settings of how you can ignore these imports to make it much easier for your imports.

Another great tip from Rabea is how you can get a much richer experience of a stacktrace from your IDE. She switches to the Java console view which she pastes a stacktrace in from a log and automatically, she can click through from the stacktrace directly into the offending code at different levels. Nice.

stacktrace view in Eclipse

Rabea also shows us Block selection which enables you to add text to multiple lines at the same time. The example she gives is a very common one. We’ve all copied some CSV or HTML into our code and wrapped it with code. Well the block selection allows us to effectively create multiple cursors on multiple lines and type wrapper code around each line. It’s like there’s more than one of you typing ;) Note the size of the cursor in the image below, spanning multiple lines.

Multiple line editing example in Eclipse

OK, time for a blatant plug, but very relevant :) If you’re an Eclipse user who suffers from a slow environment, we have a solution for you! Oh and it’s free! Optimizer for Eclipse is a free plugin that allows you to fix common configuration issues and can save you a bucket full of time! Check it out now.


If you want to be an uber developers and make all your colleagues gasp in the glory of your awesomeness, you need to create templates. A template allows you to write a bunch of code once as the template, and write a short code in your class that brings up the code you wrote in your template as a code completion action. For instance, you might want to create a short code of “cstr” which will create a constructor that looks like:

public void MyClass() {

You can also do more complex actions and even autoselect some of the code if you think it’s going to be the first thing you’d likely change.

For those of you pushing the limits of technology and trailblazing with the latest version of Java, I’m sure you’re more than familiar with Lambdas. We’ll so is your IDE :) For instance a quick fix in Eclipse will replace your bulky looking anonymous inner class with a nice neat lambda function should you take the second out your day to let it do the work for you.

Static code analysis

I’m sure you all know what this is and why it’s important. Rabea shows us how we can use static analysis to find potential problems, or even just styling issues within your IDE, such that it will appear as a warning or error as you’re typing the dirty disgusting code which it victimises with it’s rules!

Interview and final words

As with all vJUG speakers, Oleg, head of RebelLabs, had a chat with Rabea after her session. Rabea’s favourite JVM language is Java and she much prefers static to dynamic typing. Her favourite open source project is DBeaver, a universal database manger. Then again, project Lombok, the compile time enhancer of the Java language is also great and deserves a place in Rabea’s TOP of the favorite open source projects.
Here’s the interview in full:

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