Posted on Jun 28th 2016
Eclipse Neon comes with many improvements in terms of features, API and UI too. Sometimes it’s hard to notice all the hard work put into the inner workings of Eclipse. For the user, things just work or they don’t. However, one the most noticeable aspects of new software is changes made to the user interface. Sometimes these changes are right on the spot and are a delight for the user, but sometimes these changes make users angry when they are forced to work in a different way than the one they were used to—like when Microsoft decided to use the ribbon instead of toolbar in Office or when they got rid of the Start menu in Windows and replaced it with Metro.
With the arrival of Eclipse Neon comes several improvements regarding usability. Given that many people use Eclipse on a daily basis, small changes can make a huge difference! Next I will tell you a little bit about some of what I feel are the most remarkable new Neon features in terms of usability.
Quickly Zoom in/out Text
This is a common feature in modern web browsers and now it has been integrated into Eclipse. Now instead of going through a bunch of menus and screens to change the font size of your editors, you can use Ctrl+Plus(+) or Ctrl+Minus(-) to quickly increase or decrease the font size of your editors. This feature is very handy when you are sharing your screen in a code review and your coworkers can’t see your screen clearly. Or, if you are explaining something and want to focus on certain details. Or, simply when you have been staring at the screen for hours and hours looking for that elusive bug and you need to give your eyes a break.
Word Wrap in Text Editors
If you have ever been in a situation where you needed to take a look at some suspicious line of code that appears to be endless and don’t want to scroll around looking for the end of the line, now you can toggle the editor’s word wrap from the toolbar using the icon or use the shortcut Alt+Shift+Y.
Full Screen Mode
Before Eclipse Neon, full screen mode was only available in Mac OS. Now you can enjoy it for Windows and Linux too. When you need to maximize the amount of information visible on the screen, the full screen mode hides the title bar, taskbar and Start button in Windows, allowing you to focus your attention completely on the IDE content.
If that was not enough and you still require more space to visualize information, you can completely hide the toolbars. There are 2 ways to achieve this. You can select Window>Appearance>Hide Toolbar from the Eclipse menu or you can use Quick Access.
While Quick Access is not a new feature, it is worth mentioning here because it is often unknown to users. It is one of those features you can literally sit in front of for years and never notice—not because it is not useful, but because no one told you about it. Quick Access is a powerful search box that lives in the top right corner of your Eclipse IDE. You can use it to search for views, commands, menus, preferences, perspectives, editors and more.
You can access it from the toolbar or use the shortcut Ctrl+3. In addition to helping you find things, you can also execute commands; for example, to toggle the toolbar visibility type toolbar and all matches in each category display; simply select Toggle Toolbar Visibility.
Another reason I’ve included Quick Access is because in Eclipse Neon it has been improved by adding the ability to filter the results shown to only a certain category. You can achieve this by typing the category name followed by a colon. For example, to filter the list of all the views, start typing “Views:” in the search box.
The features showcased here are only a small subset of many included in the new Eclipse Neon. I invite you to take a look at https://www.eclipse.org/eclipse/news/4.6/ and find the features in Neon that speak to you. Want to see for yourself? Download Eclipse Neon.