Category Archives: Eclipse

Eclipse Tip: Task List

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I was surprised to learn that most of my colleagues were not aware of the Task List feature in eclipse.

The Task List essentially creates a list of the To-Do items that you have placed in your code. It cross-links with your source files so that you can double-click on an item in the task list to jump to the TODO comment in your code.

Adding tasks is simple. Simply create a comment in your code such as:

//TODO: Do something here

Once this is done, eclipse will add “Do something here” as a task.

Here is what the task window looks like in my environment:

Sample Task List

From the Task view, you can organize the various TODO items from all files across all open projects. This makes it easy to keep up with the various reminders that you’ve placed in your files.

To enable the task view (if you’ve closed it, or if it wasn’t enabled by default), simply click on the Window menu, then Show View, then Tasks. Of course, if Tasks doesn’t appear in the Show View menu, select Other instead and find Tasks in the expanded list of views.

As you learn to use TODOs and the Task List in eclipse, you’ll find that you will be better able to keep track of the “future fixes” that you’ve thought of in your code. You’ll be able to find and clean up all the quick hacks that inevitably end up in your application.

Essential Eclipse Plug-ins

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I’m often asked for help in setting up the eclipse IDE and specifically, which plug-ins to use.

Here’s a list of my “Essential” plug-ins that help complete my eclipse experience:

  • Open External:
    My new replacement for Eclipse Platform Extensions.  Adds Open in Command Prompt and Open in Explorer options to the context menu.
    Site Update URL: as of 7/2009)
    Temporary Update Site: Project Site:
    Author’s Site:
  • FindBugs plugin:
    FindBugs does static analysis on your code and searches for thousands of known error patterns. This tool is amazing! I’ve started using it as a precursor to any code review. Get this, use it, and start writing better code today!
    Site Update URL:
  • Maven2 Plugin:
    Ok, so we don’t use Maven here yet, but when we start, this plugin will be very helpful. It manages the POM file for you, but the coolest thing is that it will automatically mount all of your project dependencies in eclipse. Just simplifies the whole experience.
    Site Update URL:
    Update: Looks like there’s a new Update URL:
    This version of the Maven plug-in complains about needing a jdk.  To fix this add the following to eclipse.ini:
  • Perforce Plugin:
    Of course, this one’s necessary. Makes it seamless to work with Perforce
    Site Update URL:
  • SQL Explorer Plugin:
    Not quite as nice as the Stand-Alone SQL Developer tool from Oracle, this is a handy plug-in for Eclipse that lets you run queries against the database.
    Site Update URL:
  • Eclipse Web Platform Tools
    Adds nice JSP, XML, and other editors to Eclipse. You can find this on the Eclipse website. I don’t have an update URL for it.
  • ColorEditor
    This is a nice Catch-All syntax highlighting editor that covers syntax for most everything. It’s handy to have for those random source files that you don’t already have another plug-in for.
    No Site Update URL, you have to download their Jar and install it into eclipse manually.
  • QuickRex Regular Expression Builder
    This is a nice tool for building and testing regular expressions. I’ve used stand-alone tools in the past, but it’s certainly nice to have this right in eclipse. It provides a field for creating a regular expression and another field for entering a block of text to test against. Matches are hilighted as you type, making it easy to get things right.
  • Subclipse:
    Subclipse is a Team provider for the Subversion.
    Version 1.2 of subclipse is at:
    Version 1.6 of subclipse is at:

These are the plugins that I use day to day in eclipse and just make my life easier. If you have more favorites, please include them in the comments.