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Using Eclipse for Java development: A helpful introduction to the world’s most-used IDE

Introduction: Intro and History to the Eclipse IDE

This report focuses on the most commonly used Java IDE currently available to mankind. Under the spotlight is Eclipse, the most widely selected, praised and complained about IDE.

Intro and history to the Eclipse IDE

The Eclipse IDE, according to a recent report on developer productivity, is used by roughly two-thirds of the 1800+ Java developers we talked to, making it a significant player in the IDE market. With the largest user base and a vast number of plugins and integrations into the development world, Eclipse is where most developers start off when it comes to writing code.

Intro and history Eclipse IDE graph comparison

Eclipse is a self-described universal toolset for development, defined as a platform for building integrated development environments and tools for various languages. However that is a very broad description and sometimes it’s nice to see the actual trees in the forest, so here’s our take on it: Eclipse is an extremely customizable Java IDE which supports several other languages and development platforms.

Eclipse started off as an IBM Canada project back in 2001, later rolled into an open-source program with a consortium of stewards from leading companies. Since 2004, it is supported and maintained by the Eclipse Foundation, which is a non-profit organisation that is backed (i.e. funded by annual dues) by top industry companies, like Oracle, IBM, Red Hat, SAP, Google and ZeroTurnaround ;-)

The Eclipse Foundation not only keeps the infrastructure of the Eclipse IDE project running and helps set up transparent & maintainable development for projects that are willing to join the umbrella of Eclipse, but they also prioritize the care of the Eclipse ecosystem and community. The Eclipse Foundation actively markets all kinds of projects based on or using Eclipse which, combined with the availability of educational materials, makes Eclipse a solid choice when it comes to determining your next project’s platform.


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  • John Kozlov

    Another thing that exists only in Eclipse: Preferences -> Java -> Appearance -> Abbreviate Package Names
    One more: Preferences -> Java -> Editor -> Syntax Coloring -> Java -> Auto(un)boxed expressions -> Enable (all boxings and unboxings will be emphasized)

  • http://aniszczyk.org Chris Aniszczyk

    Great article. I would have loved to see more coverage on Mylyn as that’s one of the things that makes Eclipse really unique: http://eclipse.org/mylyn/

    The ability to triage your tasks and integrate with existing trackers all within Eclipse is a huge benefit. (Also thanks for the EGit shout out)

  • Oleg Šelajev

    Thanks for the tip. Syntax coloring is a great thing to look into, so much customisation is possible. Maybe worth of another blogpost entirely.

  • Oleg Šelajev

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I know about Mylyn and occasionally use Atlassian connector to work with Jira. However, I didn’t find the right way to incorporate into my everyday process.

    I mean I query tasks and close them, but I didn’t use contexts or anything more advanced. So it didn’t strike me as something extremely useful. I can see potential benefits and the general awesomeness, but for simple actions it is just as easy to alt+tab to jira in browser.

    Do you have any good pointers to materials about how to integrate mylyn into an everyday process? http://eclipse.org/mylyn/ is probably a good place to look for them, but maybe you can name better resources from top of your head.

  • Mustafa Ulu

    Step Filtering is my favourite feature.

  • http://saml.rilspace.org/ Samuel Lampa

    I have a hard time remembering keyboard shortcuts at all, so I was happy to find out that Ctrl+Shift+L is the only one I need to learn, since it *brings up an autocomplete list of all the available shortcuts and their actions*! ( … which can either be selected immediately, or I just look up the key combination, and execute it that way).

  • Ben

    Another thing that exists only in Eclipse: Preferences -> Java -> Appearance -> Abbreviate Package Names

    Not true see https://blogs.oracle.com/roumen/entry/netbeans_quick_tip_26_short

  • Oleg Šelajev

    I should mention that these settings didn’t do much favor for me on osx. It made eclipse consume something like 300% CPU all the time.

    But they worked for me well on windows machine. If anyone tries it, please comment if the difference with your previous setup is noticeable and positive.

  • arhan
  • H. Assous

    Hi,
    I’m new to eclipse IDE. I would like to see my code execute to see where it’s failing inside a loop. I find the console a bit limited for debugging.

    Thanks,
    Hamid Assous

  • Radu

    you could try code recommenders brings the best from autocomplete feature.

  • Priit Liivak

    I have had bad experience with G1 on Windows as well but that was long time ago. Very good configuration tips btw. (Un)fortunately knew all of them. I would like to see many of those enabled by default.

    One thing that annoys me about Eclipse on Mac is that I haven’t been able to get the shortcuts work just as they did on Windows. If I copy-paste with cmd I would like to open type with that key as well. And I don’t want to change all those bindings one by one.