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Latest revision as of 19:54, 24 November 2007

Contents

Eclipse User Interface Guidelines (Version 2.1)


Nick Edgar, Kevin Haaland, Jin Li and Kimberley Peter

Last Updated: February 2004


NOTE: This document contains the v2.1 guidelines only. If you are looking for updates to these guidelines, go to the Eclipse UI Guidelines (v2.1) with 3.x updates.


Notice

Your feedback can influence the ideas and guidelines described here. If you have suggestions, please provide us with your feedback on the UI mailing list or on the discussion page.

Introduction

In this document the Eclipse user interface guidelines are defined.

Eclipse is a universal tool platform - an open, extensible IDE for anything, but nothing in particular. The real value comes from tool plug-ins that "teach" Eclipse how to work with things - Java™ files, Web content, graphics, video - almost anything you can imagine. Eclipse allows you to independently develop tools that integrate with other people's tools so seamlessly, you won't know where one tool ends and another starts. The very notion of a tool, as we know it, disappears completely.

The platform is very flexible and extensible, but this flexibility has a serious drawback. In particular, there is no way within the program to ensure user interface consistency between the registered components within the platform. This document attempts to reconcile this problem, by defining standard user interface guidelines for the creation of new components. If these guidelines are adopted within your own tools, it will lead to greater consistency with the platform and other tools, and an easier learning curve for your customers.

These guidelines are intended for use by designers and implementors of an Eclipse user interface extension.

The Workbench

To start out, let's take a look at the Eclipse workbench user interface, and the various components within it.

The workbench is a collection of windows. Each window contains a menu bar, a toolbar, a shortcut bar and one or more perspectives.

Workbench decomposed.gif

A perspective is a visual container for a set of views and content editors. The views exist wholly within the perspective and are not shared, but any opened content editors are shared across perspectives. If two or more perspectives have the same view opened, they share the same instance of the view although its layout may differ in the perspectives. For perspectives in different Workbench windows, neither editors nor views are shared. A perspective is like a page within a book. It exists within a window along with any number of other perspectives and, like a page within a book, only one perspective is visible at any time.

The Workbench's main menu bar usually contains the File, Edit, Navigate, Project, Window, Help top-level menus. Other top-level menus that are in between the Edit and Project menu are typically context specific, based on the current active perspective, front most editor (whether active or not), and active view..

In the File menu you will find a New submenu, which contains menu items for Project, Folder, and File creation. The File menu also contains menu items for Import and Export, which are used to import files into the Workbench, and export them out again. In the Edit menu, you will find familiar commands like Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete. These commands are known as global commands, and target the active part. In other words, if the Delete command is invoked with the Navigator active, the actual implementation is performed by the Navigator. In the Project menu, you will find project related commands such as Open project, Close project and Rebuild project are available. In the Run menu, you will find commands related to running and debugging application code, and launching external tools such Ant scripts. In the Window menu, you will find the Open Perspective submenu to open different perspectives to suit to needs of your development tasks. You will find perspective layout management menu items. You will also find the Show View submenu to add views to the current Workbench window. In addition, you will find the Preferences menu item, which is used to modify the functional preferences of the Workbench.

As a plug-in developer, you can contribute new views, editors, wizards, menu, and tool items to the platform. These contributions are defined using XML, and once registered, integrate seamlessly with the components which already exist in the platform.

Projects, Folders and Files

Eclipse can be used to create many different kinds of content - Java files, Web content, graphics, video - almost anything you can imagine. These objects are stored as regular files within the Eclipse workspace. The workspace consists of one or more top level projects. Each project contains a collection of folders and files. These objects are known as resources.

Getting Started

For most developers, an introduction to the platform can be overwhelming, and you may ask "where do I get started?". Here are a few basic guidelines which will help you.

This document is intended for UI designers and developers. With this audience in mind, we can talk about the two main layers of any application: the model layer and the user interface layer. In the model layer of Eclipse, known as the Workspace, is a collection of resources (projects, folders and files). The user interface, or the Workbench, defines the presentation for those resources.

As a UI developer, you will also have a model and a presentation. If we assume that your goal is to make the model visible, through some presentation, most developers will start out by adding a new view or editor to the workbench.

In Eclipse, an editor is used to contain the primary content, such as a document or data object, which users interact with. In every case, this content is the primary focus of attention and a reflection of the primary task. To illustrate this concept, let's look at some common examples.

To do Java programming, the primary task is to create, edit, and debug Java code. The primary focus is the Java code, so an editor is used to interact with that code. The navigator, outline, and properties view exist to support the primary task, but rarely hold your attention for an extended period of time while you are writing Java code.

To read email, the primary task is to create, send, read, and reply to email. The primary focus is a particular email message, so an editor is used to view or reply to an email message. A view may be used to select an email message to read, and open an editor.

To communicate using instant messaging, the primary task is the conversation. The primary focus is a particular conversation, so an editor is used to carry on that conversation. A view may be used to list people with whom you can initiate a conversation.

To browse the Web, the primary task is reading. The primary focus is a particular Web page, so an editor is used to browse the Web page.

In each case, the primary task determines the primary focus of attention. As the primary focus of attention, it deserves a primary position in the UI (as an editor), and can contribute commands to the workbench's main menu bar and toolbar.

A view may be used to save your favorite links, and reopen them. At any time, you may decide to edit the page you are looking at. This causes a new editor to open. Views are used to support the primary task. You use them to navigate a hierarchy of information, open an editor, or view properties for the active part. Each view may have its own local toolbar and local menu bar.

Once you have added a view or editor, an interesting question arises. Where did this model come from? In Eclipse, most data is created using a creation wizard. You may want to add a creation wizard too. And once an object exists, you may need a way to edit the properties for that object using a properties page, or the properties dialog.

All of these ideas will be discussed, in detail, in the following sections.


General UI Guidelines


This document defines UI guidelines that are unique and specific to the Eclipse platform. It is a supplement to the other standard UI guidelines such as Microsoft® User Experience, Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines, and Java Look and Feel Guidelines. You should continue to consult those guidelines for basic UI design and implementation recommendations.

It is expected that you already have a basic understanding of the Eclipse UI architecture and APIs, and the basic UI design principles: user in control, directness, consistency, forgiveness, feedback, aesthetics, and simplicity. If you do not currently have the prerequisite knowledge, please read the relevant documentation first.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 1.1

Follow and apply good user interface design principles: user in control, directness, consistency, forgiveness, feedback, aesthetics, and simplicity.

The Spirit of Eclipse

At its heart, Eclipse is a platform for tool plug-ins. These plug-ins may be developed by a single team or by a partnership of teams, or the user may assemble a set of plug-ins from diverse sources. In either case, the usability of an individual tool, and Eclipse as a whole, will be positively influenced by user interface consistency.

If you're in doubt about the appropriate look and feel for a tool, look to the platform first, then the Java development tooling and the Plug-in Development Environment (PDE) in Eclipse for guidance. In many cases, the workflow you imagine may already exist in Eclipse. If so, adopt the platform's workflow and user interface conventions. This will lead to greater consistency with the platform and other plug-ins, and an easier learning curve for your customers.

In some scenarios, it may be tempting to ignore the workflow of Eclipse and implement a "custom" user interface. This interface will almost certainly stand out like a sore thumb in an integrated environment, where other tools adopt the platform conventions. You lose the benefit of past experience, and force your customers to learn new ideas.

Consult the Best Practices section for examples and more information.

Also, visit the Eclipse platform newsgroups to share information with the community.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 1.2

Follow the platform lead for user interface conventions.

If you decide to reuse the conventions of Eclipse, be careful not to misappropriate Eclipse specific UI conventions. For instance, the active part in a workbench window is indicated by a shaded title. The use of shaded titles within an editor (see below) may be one way to indicate where the focus is, within that part, but it will also blur the concept of part activation in the window.

BadHilight.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 1.3

Be careful not to mix UI metaphors. It may blur the original concept, and your own application.

Eclipse is an open source project. If you feel your ideas are generally useful, join the Eclipse community, write a proposal, and work with the Eclipse community to make Eclipse a better platform for product development and increase customer satisfaction.

Visit www.eclipse.org and join the Eclipse UI mailing list platform-ui-dev.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 1.4

If you have an interesting idea, work with the Eclipse community to make Eclipse a better platform for all.

Capitalization

Consistent capitalization of text within a plug-in leads to a more polished feel, and greater perception of quality. Within a dialog or window, headline capitalization should be applied to all titles, menus, tooltip, tabs, and push buttons. For example, "Run to Line" can be used as a menu item label.

Sentence style capitalization should be applied to all check boxes, radio buttons, and group labels. For example, "Choose an option for the Java file" can be used as a group label.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 1.5

Use Headline style capitalization for menus, tooltip and all titles, including those used for windows, dialogs, tabs, column headings and push buttons. Capitalize the first and last words, and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Do not include ending punctuation.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 1.6

Use Sentence style capitalization for all control labels in a dialog or window, including those for check boxes, radio buttons, group labels, and simple text fields. Capitalize the first letter of the first word, and any proper names such as the word Java.

Language

Eclipse is available on a variety of different platforms, in a variety of locales. In reflection of the different languages and numeric formats in each, a localization strategy should be adopted for the text and images within each plug-in. This involves the separation of all resources from the source code of a plug-in itself, so that those resources can be translated to a new locale.

Consult the Best Practices section for examples and more information.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 1.7

Create localized version of the resources within your plug-in.

Error Handling

If an error occurs in Eclipse, the appropriate response will be dependent on the context of the error.

Please refer to Wizards section for guidelines on how to handle user input errors in a wizard.

Please refer to Editors section for guidelines on how to handle errors occurring in an editor.

When an error occurs which requires either an explicit user input or immediate attention from users, a modal dialog should be used to communicate the error to the user. This forces the user to notice, and deal with, the problem.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 1.8

When an error occurs which requires either an explicit user input or immediate attention from users, communicate the occurrence with a modal dialog.

If a programming error occurs in the product, an error dialog should be used to communicate the occurrence to the user. The error should also be logged using the workbench error logging facility. This gives the user an opportunity to restart the platform, uninstall the corresponding feature, and contact their system administrator.

The plug-in should provide the following information in the detail area of the error dialog:

  • Provider name
  • Plug-in name (user friendly name)
  • Plug-in ID
  • Version

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 1.9

If a programming error occurs in the product, communicate the occurrence with a dialog, and log it.


Visual Design

*** DO NOT USE *** This section is now out of date. To see the most current guidelines for Eclipse-style UI Graphics, go to the Eclipse UI Guidelines (v2.1) with 3.x updates


All visual user interface elements created for Eclipse follow a common style called the Eclipse visual style or Eclipse style. In these guidelines you will find basic design information, as well as specifications for implementing Eclipse style icons and wizard graphics in tools based on the Eclipse framework.

Following these guidelines will help ensure consistency of visual user interface elements and their implementation across the Eclipse tools and plug-ins. Consistency of these elements includes visual semantic, style, and implementation considerations. These topics are covered in the following sections.

Consistency

In the development of the Eclipse style icons, a visual language was formed to describe a variety of concepts in the user interface. These concepts are now represented by a large selection of tiny visual signs that many have come to know through using Eclipse tools.

In order to ensure a consistent visual experience, understanding of concepts across the tools, and minimize confusion for the user, we encourage you to re-use Eclipse style graphical elements whenever possible.


Icon Reuse

A great many icons have already been created in the Eclipse visual style so there is a good chance many of the icons or graphical elements you may need already exist. A sample of the core concepts is shown in the following table. Each of these elements carries with it a specific meaning, so care should be taken when using them to ensure that consistent meaning is maintained.

Metaphor concepts.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.1

Re-use the core visual concepts to maintain consistent representation and meaning across Eclipse plug-ins.



Icon Palettes

Various palettes used in creating Eclipse style icons. There are 3 different palettes used to create the 3 different icon states, as follows:

  • 256 Color Palette for the active or selected — also referred to as "color"— state of all icon types
  • 8 Color Grayscale Palette for the enabled state of perspective, view, toolbar, toolbar wizard, and local toolbar icons
  • 2 Color Grayscale Palette for the disabled state of toolbar, toolbar wizard, and local toolbar icons


256 Color Palette

Eclipse style icons should be designed using a special 256 color palette that consists of 20 standard colors and 236 custom colors, as shown below.

256palette.gif

NOTE: Although the color palette shown is based on the standard windows .aco color palette that comes with Adobe Photoshop, these two palettes are NOT the same and ONLY the shown color palette should be used when creating Eclipse style icons.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.2

Use the Eclipse 256 color palette for creating the active or selected state of all icon types.


8 Color Grayscale Palette

To create grayscale, enabled versions of your full color icons, you will need to use another palette that consists of the 8 colors shown below:


Enabledcolors.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.3

Use the Eclipse 8 color palette for creating the enabled state of perspective, view, toolbar, toolbar wizard, and local toolbar icons.


2 Color Grayscale Palette

To create grayscale, disabled versions of your full color and enabled icons, you will need to use a subset of the 8 color palette, that consists of the 2 colors shown below:


Disabledcolors.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.4

Use the Eclipse 2 color palette for creating the disabled state of toolbar, toolbar wizard, and local toolbar icons.



Icon Types

The Eclipse style icons have been categorized into separate types so that each can be optimized for its specific location within the user interface. Below is a breakdown of these types and where they are located.


Icon types.gif

A Product
The Product icon represents the branding of the product, and is always located on the far left of the window title bar before the perspective, document, and product name.

B Perspective and Fastview
Perspective and fastview icons are found down the left side of the workbench. These icons allow the user to quickly switch between different opened perspectives, or to invoke different views that have been created as fastviews.

C Toolbar
Toolbar icons are found on the main toolbar across the top of the workbench. These icons invoke an command, either globally or within the editor.

D Toolbar Wizard
Toolbar wizard icons are found on the main toolbar across the top of the workbench. They are easily recognized by their wand and sparkle. Selecting one of these icons will launch a wizard.

E View
View icons are found on the left side of the titlebar of each view within the workbench. These icons indicate each view’s function.

F Local (View) Toolbar
Local toolbar icons are found to the right of the view icon on the titlebar of each view within the workbench. These icons invoke an command on objects in that view only. Local toolbar icons are also found in all menus, including main, pull down, and context menus.

G Model Object
Model Object icons are found in tree views, list views, and on Editor Tabs within the the workbench (such as files, folders, projects and so on).

H Object Overlay
Object overlay icons are also found in tree or list views. They are appended to the various corners of model object icons as signifiers of some sort of change.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.5

Use the appropriate icon type in the location it is designed for within the user interface.



Icon Size & Placement

With few exceptions, Eclipse style icons are designed within an area of 16 x 16 pixels. Within that area, a 15 x 15 pixel space is reserved for the image itself, leaving both a vertical and horizontal line of empty pixels to allow for proper placement of the image within the interface. Note the location of the empty pixels in the samples below. The icons are cut with the specific placement shown to ensure alignment in the user interface.

The diagrams below show the proper sizing of the separate types of icons, and their proper placement within the allotted screen space.

View realestate.gif

View Icons
Maximum 16 pixels wide x 16 pixels high, always centered.
Empty pixels must be on the left, and bottom.

Perspective realestate.gif

Perspective Icons
Fastview Icons
Maximum 16 pixels wide x 16 pixels high, always centered.
Empty pixels must be on the right, and bottom.

Toolbar realestate.gif

Toolbar Icons
Toolbar Wizard Icons
Local Toolbar Icons
Maximum 16 pixels wide x 16 pixels high, always centered.
Empty pixels should be on the left, and top.

View realestate.gif

Model Object Icons
Maximum 16 pixels wide x 15 pixels high, always centered.
Model Object icons must be no greater than 15 pixels high.

Overlay realestate.gif

Object Overlay Icons
Object Overlays are one of the exceptions to the 16 x 16 pixel size.
Maximum 7 pixels wide x 8 pixels high, always centered.
Icon should have a white outside keyline around it to separate it from the icon it is being appended to.
See the next section on Icon Positioning for using the keyline on different types of Object Overlay icons.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.6

Follow the specific size specifications for each type of icon.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.7

Cut the icons with the specific placement shown to ensure alignment in the user interface.



Icon Positioning

To follow from the specific size and placement of the different types of icons within their allotted screen space, the following positioning guidelines will help with the alignment of these elements relative to one another, and will aid in creating a well organized and aesthetically integrated user interface. (All measurements are in pixels.)


Overview

File:Iconposition main.gif


1. Toolbar icons

(Includes Toolbar and Toolbar Wizard Icons)

Toolbar specs.gif

Item Positioning and Spacing
A Toolbar 22 pixels high
B Between left margin and handle 4 pixels
C Between handle and first icon 7 pixels
C Between icon and top of toolbar 3 pixels
C Between icon and bottom of toolbar 3 pixels
C Between icon and twisty 7 pixels
D Between twisty and hard rule 7 pixels
E Between hard rule and icon 6 pixels
F Between icons 7 pixels
G Between icon and hard rule 10 pixels
H Between hard rule and handle 2 pixels



2. Titlebar icons

(Includes View and Local Toolbar Icons)

Titlebar specs.gif

Item Positioning and Spacing
A Title bar 22 pixels high
B Between left margin and view icon 4 pixels
B Between view icon and text label 3 pixels
B Between title bar icons and top of title bar 3 pixels
B Between title bar icons and bottom of title bar 3 pixels
C Between local toolbar icons 7 pixels
D Between last local toolbar icon and closing window 'x' 7 pixels
E Between closing window 'x' and right margin 4 pixels

3. Perspective icons

(Includes Perspective and Fastview Icons)

Perspective specs.gif

Perspective Icons

Item Positioning and Spacing
A Perspective bar 27 pixels wide
B Between left margin and icon 5 pixels
B Between icon and right margin 6 pixels
B Between top of perspective section and first icon 3 pixels
B Between icon and hard rule 6 pixels
C Between hard rule and top of icon 6 pixels
D Vertically between icons 6 pixels
E Between icon and hard rule 6 pixels

Fastview Icons

Item Positioning and Spacing
D Vertically between icons (same as perspective icons) 6 pixels
E Between icon and hard rule 6 pixels
F Between left margin and icon 5 pixels
F Between top of fastview section and first icon 3 pixels
F Between icon and right margin 6 pixels

4. Tree View icons

(Model Object Icons)

Treeview specs.gif

Item Positioning and Spacing
A Between “+/-” widget and left of window 4 pixels
A Between “+/-” widget and top of window 4 pixels
B Between top of window and first icon 0 pixels
B Vertically between icons 0 pixels
B Between horizontal treeview branch and icon 0 pixels
B Between icon and text label 3 pixels
C Text is nested within the text label 3 pixels each on left and top, 2 pixels on right, 4 pixels on bottom (length varies)



Icon Overlays

As stated under Icon Size & Placement, all overlays are consistently the same size: 7 x 8 pixels. An additional white border keyline is included on Project Nature and Java Overlay types to visually separate them from the underlying Model Object icon. The keyline location varies depending on the overlay's placement on the underlying icon.

Project Nature Overlay

The project nature overlays are displayed in the Navigator and the Package views. They are completely superimposed on the model object at the top right corner of the 16 x 16 icon space.

Only a few project nature overlay icons have been created to prevent crowding in the interface. Project nature overlays quickly identify the various types of projects that can be contained in the Navigator and mirroring views.

The white keyline border is applied around the image to enhance legibility.

Ovr projectnature.gif Ovr projectnature sample.gif


Auxiliary Overlay

The auxiliary overlays are displayed in all tree views. This type of overlay is completely superimposed on the model object at the bottom left corner of the 16 x 16 icon space.

File:Ovr auxiliary.gif

The auxiliary overlay quickly identifies the status of an object. Examples of auxiliary overlays are warning, error, failure, and success.


Java Overlay

The Java overlays are displayed in the Outline, Hierarchy, and Package views. The Java overlays are appended to the model object icon, so they extend the 16x16 icon space. They are placed to the right of a model object icon, overlapping the 16x16 model object space by 3 pixels. A maximum of 3 java overlays can be put on the model object.

The order in which an overlay appears depends on the order in which it has been assigned. In designing Java overlays, it is important to make sure the base object icon can support the addition of overlays without compromising readability. Note that there are two Java overlays that always display at the bottom right corner — 'C' position in the layout shown below — of the model object: Synch co.gif synchronized (method) and Run co.gif run (class).

Ovr java.gif Ovr java sample1.gif

Java overlays identify attributes of an object. Examples of Java overlays are static, final, abstract, and synchronized.

Note: In the Hierarchy and Outline views, the Java overlays are appended to the right of the model object as shown, but in the Package view they are stacked over the model object.


Version Control Overlay

Version control overlays are displayed in the Navigator view and in the Structure View of the Merge Editor in CVS. When they are displayed in the Navigator view, the overlay is completely superimposed on the model object at the right of the 16 x 16 icon space.

Ovr versioncontrol.gif

When the version control overlays are displayed in the Structure View of the Merge Editor in CVS, they are appended to the model object, so they extend the 16x16 space. They are placed to the right of a model object icon, overlapping the 16x16 model object space by 3 pixels. In CVS there is a maximum of 2 overlays on the right of the object.

Ovr versioncontrol cvs.gif Ovr versioncontrol cvs samp.gif


Version control overlays identify a transition-state of an object. Examples of CVS overlays are incoming, outgoing, in conflict, added, deleted, and changed.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.8

Follow the positioning guidelines for the different types of icons for optimal alignment of these elements relative to one another.



Wizard Palette

The Wizard Palette section shows the the special blue 183 color palette you will need to create your wizard graphics.
Eclipse style wizard banner graphics should be designed using a special blue 183 color palette, as shown below.

Wizban183.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.9

Use the Eclipse special blue 183 color palette for creating wizard graphics.



Wizard Size & Placement

The Wizard Sizing section gives the sizing guidelines for creating wizard banner graphics.
All wizard banner graphics are designed to fit within a specified screen space that is 75 pixels wide x 58 pixels high, in the top, right corner of the wizard.



Wizban.gif



The actual size of each wizard banner graphic will vary depending on the elements involved, but should not exceed 55 pixels wide x 45 pixels high.

Within the wizard banner space allocation, there is no firm rule for where to place the wizard banner graphic. Generally, the graphic is centered vertically, and off-center to the left horizontally.



Wizbans.gif


GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.10

Follow the specific size specifications for wizard graphics.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.11

Cut the wizard graphics with the specific placement shown to ensure alignment in the wizard banner area.


Implementation Conventions

Eclipse provides a set of directory names and structure for storing and accessing user interface graphics easily in any plug-in. This section describes the naming conventions and directory path used in Eclipse. If followed, the predefined directory names and path allow for the icon and wizard graphic files to be implemented directly into the plug-in structure without any need for modifications.

From icon request to delivery, the naming and structure is the same. If you use a different user interface directory name or more than one directory to store graphics than that specified at request time, notify your visual design contact of these changes so that they can maintain a parallel system. Further, keeping the number of directories in which you store your graphics to a minimum, will reduce unnecessary duplication of graphics and ease resource management issues considerably.


Directory Names and Structure

Once your icons have been conceptualized, designed, approved and cut, they are stored using the directory naming convention and structure described below.

  1. The name of the first level directory refers to the Eclipse platform: Icons used in an Eclipse plug-in are called org.eclipse.pluginname.ui_0.0.0. Where pluginname is substituted with the name of the plug-in and _0.0.0 is substituted with the Eclipse version number, for example, org.eclipse.debug.ui_2.1.0

  2. Each plug-in that manages user interface elements for a tool set contains a second level directory called icons.

  3. Within the icons directory, there are separate folders with names that indicate the state, type and size of the icons, as follows:
    1. The first letter of the folder name indicates the icon state. The letter c for color, d for disabled, and e for enabled.
    2. The next 3 to 6 letters signify the icon type: toolbar (tool), local toolbar (lcl), view or perspective (view), model object (obj), overlay (ovr), wizard banner (wizban).
    3. The last two digits of the folder name indicate the size of the icons within. Usually it will be 16 (to indicate the 16 pixel by 16 pixel size), but there might be others (for example, 32 would indicate the 32 x 32 size) depending on the plug-in requirements.

The following image shows a complete directory structure for a plug-in.

Impready folderstructure.gif

NOTE:

  1. For many plug-ins, inside the icons directory, there is a folder called "full" which then contains these icon type folders. This full folder is being phased out of the icon directory structure for new plug-ins. The structure shown above is the recommended icon directory structure.
  2. Your plug-in may not require all types of icons shown in the sample. The sample illustrates the complete set of icon types that you may need in your plug-in. In addition, there are sometimes exceptions to this list of types in plug-ins that have a special type of icon that is not covered by this standard set. This is rare, however, and we encourage you to get to know the different types and their respective states, and use the structure as shown.
  3. When an icon has multiple states, the file name is the same across each of the active (color), enabled, and disabled state folders. Because of this organization, using the states provided is important, and will prevent you from having to rename the states of your icons if all were stored in the same folder.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.12

Follow the predefined directory structure and naming convention.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.13

Keep the original directory names provided.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.14

Minimize duplication of graphics within a plugin by keeping all graphics in one, or few, first level user interface directories.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.15

Use the active, enabled, and disabled states provided.


File Names

Establishing file names before the icons are designed will help ensure appropriately descriptive names for the concepts they represent, and may prevent misuse of icons for purposes not intended and duplicate file names. If the names are well considered in advance, you will appreciate being able to quickly make the distinction between icon types and find concepts more readily, especially as the volume of your graphic resources increases.

Suggestions for File Name Suffixes

File suffixes are useful for making the distinction between types of user interface elements. They can be used to denote the location or function of an icon or wizard graphic. The following table shows how suffixes are being used for image file names in Eclipse:

Filename Suffix Used for icons with the following function or location: Icon Type and Location
*_wiz.gif invoke a wizard, or are graphics within a wizard Wizard banner graphics: used in wizard dialog windows.
Wizard icons: used on wizard toolbars.
*_exec invoke executable files Toolbar icons: used in cascading menus, and global toolbars.
*_edit are in an editor view Toolbar icons: used in cascading menus, and global toolbars.
*_nav are in a navigator view Toolbar icons: used in cascading menus, and global toolbars.
Local toolbar icons: found on the far right of the title area of a view.
View and perspective icons: found in the top, left corner of a view.
*_misc do no fit into any of the other categories Toolbar icons: used in cascading menus, and global toolbars.
View and perspective icons: found in the top, left corner of a view.
*_tsk represent tasks that user can do Local toolbar icons: found on the far right of the title area of a view.
Overlay icons: placed on top of a model object icon to indicate a change in condition.
Object icons: used in the tree view, list view, and properties view.
View and perspective icons: found in the top, left corner of a view.
*_mode toggles the working mode of the view Local toolbar icons: found on the far right of the title area of a view.
*_menu are found in a menu Local toolbar icons: found on the far right of the title area of a view.
*_ps are found in a property sheet Local toolbar icons: found on the far right of the title area of a view.
View and perspective icons: found in the top, left corner of a view.
*_obj represent model objects Model object icons: used in the tree view, list view, and properties view.
*_pal are model object icons on object palettes Model object icons: used on object palettes
*_co is for commands that engage the system, e.g. build command Toolbar icons: used in cascading menus, and global toolbars.
Local toolbar icons: found on the far right of the title area of a view.


To aid you in choosing your file names, we offer the following guidelines:

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.16

Abbreviate file name instead of using the full icon name, e.g. New Interface becomes "newint".

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.17

Use lower case characters in your file names, e.g. DTD becomes "dtd".

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.18

Use 10 characters or less in your file names if possible (underscores count as a character).

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.19

Use a file name suffix that describes its location or function in the tool, e.g. newint_wiz.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.20

Use transparent *.gif format for all user interface icons and wizard graphics, unless the context requires a different file format.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 2.21

Keep the original file names provided.



Component Development

Commands

A command, which is invoked by a user to carry out some specific functions, may appear as an item in a menu, or an item in a toolbar. In reflection of this, it has attributes for the menu or tool item label, tooltip, and image.

As a plug-in developer, you can contribute commands to the window menu bar and toolbar, or to individual views and editors. Contribution to the window is performed using an action set, a set of task oriented commands which the user can show or hide. Contribution to a view or editor is performed using individual command.

Here is an illustration of the main areas of contribution.

ActionExamples.gif

In this section we'll look at general command guidelines. For information on window, view, or editor specific guidelines, see Windows, Views, and Editors.

Appearance

Each command must have a label, tool tip, and image. If the command appears in a toolbar, the command image will be displayed on all platforms. If the command appears in a menu, the image will only be displayed on some platforms, such as Windows® 2000. The label and tool tip should use Headline style capitalization, as defined in General UI Guidelines.

Each command must provide one full color image. This image will be displayed if the mouse is placed over the command. It will also be used to generate the enabled, disabled, and pressed images which appear in normal command use. Commands which are contributed in code also have the option to define explicit images for enabled, disabled, and roll over. This option can be used for greater control over image appearance.

The following snapshot shows the valid use of Headline capitalization in a toolbar.

TooltipCaps.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 3.1

Each command must have a label, tool tip, and full color image. The label and tool tip must use Headline style capitalization.

The tool tips for a command should describe the behavior which occursif the command is invoked, independent of the current state. For push buttons, the label should decribe the result of users pushing the button. For toggle buttons, it should describe its effect when the item is toggled on, and the label should not change depending on the state of the button. In Eclipse version 2.1, it is recommended that the tool tip for a command uses the same text as that for the command label. For instance, in the following snapshot the behavior of the Show Type Hierarchy button is shown using one tool tips text.

GoodTooltips.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 3.2

The command tooltip should describe the result of the command, not the current state of the command. Use the text same as that for the command label.

For consistency, any command which has a similar behavior to existing commands in the workbench, should adopt the same terminology.

When creating a resource, the term "New" should be used in an command or wizard. For instance, "New File", "New Project" and "New Java Class". The term "Delete" should be used when deleting an existing resource.

When creating an object inside a resource (e.g., a tag in an XML file; a method or field in a Java class), the term "Add" should be used; the user is adding something to an existing resource.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 3.3

Adopt the labeling terminology of the workbench for New, Delete and Add commands.

Enablement

An command should only be enabled if it can be completed successfully. If this is not the case, the command should be disabled.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 3.4

An command should only be enabled if it can be completed successfully.

Command enablement should be quick to calculate. If it is too expensive to calculate the enablement of an command, the command should be optimistically enabled. If the command is invoked, it should calculate the real enablement, and show a dialog to the user if it is not available.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 3.5

Command enablement should be quick. If command enablement cannot be quick, enable the command optimistically and display an appropriate message if the command is invoked, but cannot be completed.

Dialogs

A dialog is used for modal interaction with the user. It can be used to solicit information, or provide feedback.

Initialization

When a dialog first opens, the initial focus should be given to the first control where information is required from the user. This control can be determined by the tab order of controls until a control is found where information is required. If the dialog provides simple feedback, or requires simple confirmation from the user, the initial focus may also be assigned to the default button.

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 4.1

When a dialog opens, set the initial focus to the first input control in the container. If there are no input controls, the initial focus should be assigned to the default button.

Multiple Item Selection

Slush Bucket widgets (also known as the Twin Box design) should flow from the left to the right with the source objects on the left and selected files on the right.

Slush Buckets should also have the following control buttons, in this order, for moving objects from the source the selected buckets.

Button Function
> Add whatever is selected on the left to the right
< Remove selected items from the right
>> Add all (whether they are selected or not)
<< Remove all

SlushBucket.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gif Guideline 4.2

Slush Bucket widget (or Twin Box) should flow from left to right with the source objects on the left hand side. It should have the >, <, >>, << control buttons in this order.

Wizards

In Eclipse, a wizard is commonly used for the creation of new resources, resource import, or resource export. It can also be used for the execution of any task involving a sequential series of steps. A wizard should be used if there are many steps in the task, and they must be completed in a specific order.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.1

Use a wizard for any task consisting of many steps, which must be completed in a specific order.

Appearance

At the top of each wizard is a header, containing a banner graphic and a text area. The banner graphic contains an image representing the wizard task, and should be created with a white to blue, gray scale palette for consistency with other banners in Eclipse. These colors also avoid distracting the user from the important fields of the wizard. The text area is used to prompt the user for information which is absent, and display error messages if information is invalid. The presence of the header, with banner graphic and text area, creates a more polished feel, and greater perception of quality to the wizard.

At the bottom of each wizard, a Back, Next, Finish, and Cancel button should appear.

WizardAppearance.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.2

Each wizard must contain a header with a banner graphic and a text area for user feedback. It must also contain Back, Next, Finish, and Cancel buttons in the footer.

Initialization

When a wizard first opens, the focus should be placed in the first field requiring information (see Guidelines 3.1). The header should be used to prompt the user for the first piece of required information.

GoodWizardInit.gif

It is not appropriate to display an error message. At this point, the user hasn't done anything yet.

BadWizardInit.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.3

Start the wizard with a prompt, not an error message.

The initial state of the wizard should be derived from the context where it is opened. For instance, in the New File wizard, the current workbench selection is examined. If it points to a valid project or folder, the wizard will pre-populate the parent field with the parent project or folder name, and put cursor focus in the next field requiring user input. If the user's selection does not point to a valid parent project or folder, the wizard will not pre-populate the folder name. Instead, it will leave the field blank and put the cursor focus in the field. When the user's selection is on a file, a wizard may also go through these calculations using the parent folder or project of the file.

WizardFieldPopulation.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.4

Seed the fields within the wizard using the current workbench state.

Validation of Data

Information validation within a wizard should be done in tab order. If the first required field is empty, an informative prompt should be shown in the text area, directing the user to fill in the field. If the first required field is in error, an error message should be shown in the text area. If the first required field is valid, check the next field, and so on. The text area should not be used to display more than one prompt or error at a time.

If dialog information is absent or invalid, the Next or Finish buttons should be disabled until the situation is resolved. When resolution occurs, and all of the information has been provided, the Next or Finish buttons may be enabled.

WizardErrorMsgs.gif

Error messages should only be displayed when user input is invalid.

WizardErrorMsgs2.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.5

Validate the wizard data in tab order. Display a prompt when information is absent, and an error when information is invalid.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.6

Only enable the Next / Finish buttons if all required information in the dialog is present and valid.

The error messages in a wizard should be intended for the end user, not the developer. With this in mind, message IDs should never be presented as part of the error text in the wizard's header area.

WizardMsgs.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.7

Remove all programming message ID's from wizard text.

Browse Buttons

An edit field and "Browse..." button combination should be used whenever an existing object is referenced within a wizard. The edit field is used for direct input of the existing object, and the Browse button is used to browse and select the object from a list of all possible choices.

For instance, in the New Java Class wizard, a "Browse..." button is placed beside the "Super Class" edit field. If the browse button is pressed, a Browse Dialog will appear, and the user can select a super class. This pattern should be used whenever a link will be established between a new object and an old one. The "Browse..." button should be located to the right of the edit field.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.8

Use a Browse Button whenever an existing object is referenced in a wizard.

In the Browse Dialog, invalid choices should not appear. When the dialog is closed, and focus returns to the parent control, refresh the enablement state of controls within the dialog. In particular, refresh the enablement of Next, Finish, and OK buttons.

An example of valid and invalid filtering is shown in the following snapshot.

FolderSelection.gif

Wizard Completion

The New Resource and Import Wizards commonly create new files, folders, and projects within the workbench. If a single file is created, the wizard should open the file in an editor in the active page. If more than one file is created, open the most important, or central file. This makes it easier to modify and save the file.

Have a readme.html file for every example project, and open that readme.html automatically upon project creation. This will give users an immediate overview of the example: what it does, prerequisites, limitations, steps to take, and so on.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.9

If a new file is created, open the file in an editor. If a group of files are created, open the most important, or central file in an editor. Open the readme.html file upon creation of an example project.

If a new project is created, the wizard should change the active perspective within the workbench to one which is appropriate for the new project type. In Eclipse v2.1, users are prompted to confirm the switch to the preferred perspective when creating a new project. To avoid loss of context, plug-ins should use this, and not automatically switch without prompting. If users want to switch automatically in the future, they can choose "Do not show this message again" in the confirmation dialog.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.10

If a new project is created, prompt users and change the active perspective to suit the project type.

In either case, where a file, folder, or project is created, the wizard should select and reveal the new object in the appropriate view. This provides concrete evidence to the user that, yes, the new object was created and now exists.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.11

If a new object is created, select and reveal the new object in the appropriate view.

In many situations, the creation of a resource may involve the creation of a project or folder to contain the resource. If the containing project or folder can be created from within the wizard (with a very reasonable set of defaults), the wizard should allow it. If the creation of such resources requires detailed user interaction in order for parent project or folder to be set up correctly, the wizard should not attempt to do this. Instead, the wizard error text should instruct the user that "The specified project does not exist".

The EAR Import wizard in IBM's WebSphere Studio is an example where allowing the user to specify the name of the parent project in place makes for a much more usable interaction. In this case, based on the user provided name, the wizard goes off and creates not only the EAR project itself, but also any web projects, etc., that may be needed as well.

GoodParentCreation.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.12

Create folder objects in a wizard if reasonable defaults can be defined.

Terminology

Within a creation wizard, if the item being created must be a Project (not a folder below a project), the term "Project" should be used. If it can be a folder below the project, the term "Folder" should be used. In addition, use the "name" suffix (uncapitalized) and no other prefix for the input field label. For example, use "Project name" or "Folder name" but not "Project Name" or "Server Project name".

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 5.13

Use the term "Project name" for the input field label when the item must be a Project; otherwise, use the term "Folder name". Do not qualify the term.

Editors

An editor is a visual component within a workbench page. It is used to interact with the primary content, which may be a document or data object. In every case, this content is the primary focus of attention and a reflection of the primary task.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.1

Use an editor to edit or browse a file, document, or other primary content.

Modifications made in an editor follow an open-save-close lifecycle model. When an editor first opens, the editor contents should be unmodified (clean). If the contents are modified, the editor should communicate this change to the platform. In response, an asterisk will appear in the editor tab. The modifications should be buffered within the edit model, until such a time as the user explicitly saves them. At that point, the modifications should be committed to the model storage.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.2

Modifications made in an editor must follow an open-save-close lifecycle model.

An editor is document or input-centric. Each editor has an input, and only one editor can exist for each editor input within a page. This policy has been designed to simplify part management.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.3

Only one instance of an editor may exist, for each editor input, within a perspective.

In addition, it should be possible to open a separate instance of an editor for each different input.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.4

It must be possible to open a separate instance of an editor for each different input.

Appearance

The editor should be labeled with the name of the resource being edited; not with the name of the editor.

EditorTitles.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.5

The editor should be labeled with the name of the file, document, or input being edited.

If the editor contains more than one page, a tab control should be used for page activation. The use of this control is demonstrated by the plugin file and html editors.

Tab labels should be kept to one word, and two words at most.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.6

In multipage editors, use a tab control for page activation.Tab labels should be kept to one word, and two words at most.

Menus

An editor may contribute items directly to the window menu bar. All of the commands available in the editor should be displayed in the window menu bar, for accessibility and clarity. Exceptions are for the obvious commands, e.g. basic navigations such as next / previous character, line, word.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.7

All of the commands, except for the obvious commands, available in the editor should be added to the window menu bar.

The following format is recommended, to ensure consistency across Eclipse and better ease of use.

Edit (one or more editor specific menus) Window
Add any object centric commands here (commands belong to the specific menus) Actions to control what you see in the editor.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.8

Use the standard format for editor contributions in the window menu bar.

The window menu bar contains a number of global commands, such as Cut, Copy, and Paste in the Edit menu. These commands target the active part, as indicated by a shaded title area. If these commands are supported within an editor, the editor should hook these window commands, so that selection in the window menu bar or toolbar produces the same result as selection of the same command in the editor. The editor should not ignore these commands, and contribute duplicate commands to the window menu bar or toolbar.

A complete list of the global commands is declared in the IWorkbenchActionConstants.java (see below).

/**
* From IWorkbenchActionConstants.
* Standard global commands in a workbench window.
*/
public static final String [] GLOBAL_ACTIONS = {
UNDO,
REDO,
CUT,
COPY,
PASTE,
PRINT,
DELETE,
FIND,
SELECT_ALL,
BOOKMARK
};

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.9

If an editor has support for Cut, Copy, Paste, or any of the global commands, these commands must be executable from the same commands in the window menu bar and toolbar.

Toolbars

An editor may contribute commands directly to the window toolbar. The toolbar is used to expose the most commonly used commands in an editor. Any command which appears in the toolbar must also appear in the menu, but there is no need to duplicate every command in the menu within the toolbar.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.10

Fill the editor toolbar with the most commonly used items in the view menu.

The use of a local toolbar within an editor is contrary to the design of the workbench. Within the workbench, the toolbar for an editor is shared with editors of the same type. This reduces the flash which occurs when you switch between editors, reduces the number of images and commands in the product, and creates a better feel of integration.

Context Menus

A context menu should be used for context sensitive interaction with the objects in an editor. If an object is selected in an editor, and the context menu is opened, the context menu should only contain commands which are appropriate for the selection. Commands which affect the presentation of the view should not appear in the context menu.

In a text editor, you may assume that there is only one type of selection: text. In this case, the contents of the context menu will remain consistent for any selection in the editor.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.11

Fill the context menu with selection oriented commands.

For consistency with other editors in Eclipse, each editor should adopt a common order for commands within the context menu. This format is shown in the following table. Within this table, each item represents a category of commands. The categories within the context menu should be kept distinct from one another through the use of separators.

Undo / Redo
Add
Show In
Cut Copy Paste
Delete
Other Plugin Additions
Save

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.12

Use the standard format for editor context menus.

For good spatial navigation, fill the context menu with a fixed set of commands for each selection type. Once the contents have been defined, the enablement state of each command should be determined using the selected object state. In doing so, you establish a consistency which makes the menu more predictable, and easier to navigate.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.13

Fill the context menu with a fixed set of commands for each selection type, and then enable or disable each to reflect the selection state.

One of the primary goals for the platform UI is extensibility. In fact, it is this extensibility which gives you the freedom to add new views, editors, perspectives, and actions to the platform. Of course, extensibility is a two way street. While you may wish to extend the platform, others may wish to extend your view or editor. It is common for one plug-in to add actions to the menu, toolbar, or context menu of an editor from another plugin.

In the platform, the menu and toolbar for an editor are automatically extended by the platform. In contrast, context menu extension is supported in collaboration between the editor and the platform. To achieve this collaboration, an editor must register each context menu it contains with the platform. It should also define an command filter for each object type in the editor. An command filter makes it easier for one plug-in to add an command to objects in an editor defined by another plug-in. The target is described using object type and attributes. For more information on the implementation of this concept, refer to Creating an Eclipse View.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.14

Register all context menus in the editor with the platform.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.15

Implement an Command Filter for each object type in the editor.

Resource Deletion

When a resource is deleted from one of the navigators (e.g., Navigator view, J2EE view, Data view, or DBA Explorer view in IBM's WebSphere Studio), the handling of any editor that is currently open on that resource depends on whether the editor has any unsaved changes.

If the editor does not contain any changes since the resource was last saved then the editor should be immediately closed.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.16

If the input to an editor is deleted, and the editor contains no changes, the editor should be closed.

If the editor contains changes to the resource since the resource was last saved (i.e., it is "dirty"), the editor should give the user a chance to save their changes to another location, and then close. Here is a sample of the dialog which should be displayed:

FileDeletedDialog.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.17

If the input to an editor is deleted, and the editor contains changes, the editor should give the user a chance to save their changes to another location, and then close.

Unsaved Changes

If the editor contains changes to the resource since the resource was last saved (i.e., it is "dirty"), an asterisk should be used to prefix the resource name presented in the editor tab:

DirtyEditor.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.18

If the resource is dirty, prefix the resource name presented in the editor tab with an asterisk.

Read Only Files

With a name like "editor", it's not surprising that the issue of read-only files may cause confusion. If it's read-only, how can you edit it? In this case, you should fall back to first principles.

A view is typically used to navigate a hierarchy of information, open an editor, or display properties for the active editor. An editor is typically used to edit or browse a file, document or other input object.

This statement is appropriate whether a file is read-only or not. In either case, the user should be able to select the file, open it, and browse the contents within an editor. If the file is read-only, the File > Save command should be disabled and the File > Save As should be enabled. In the status bar area, "Read-only" should be shown instead of the default "Writable" message.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.19

Treat read-only editor input as you would any other input. Enable the Save As if possible. Display "Read-only" in the status bar area.

Integration with Other Views

In Eclipse, there is a special relationship between each editor and the Outline view. When an editor is opened, the Outline view will connect to the editor, and ask it for an outline model. If the editor answers an outline model, that model will be displayed in the Outline view whenever the editor is active. The outline is used to navigate through the content, or interact with the edit data at a higher level of abstraction.

For instance, if you open a .java file in an editor, the structure of the class is displayed in the Outline view. If you select a method or field in the outline, the text declaration of that item will be selected and revealed in the editor. If you select a method or field, and open the context menu, you can interact with the item as a conceptual unit, rather than just a bunch of text.

In general, an editor should provide an outline model to the Outline view if the data within the editor is too extensive to see on a single screen, and will yield a structured outline. This structured outline makes it very easy to navigate through objects like a java file or html file.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.20

If the data within an editor is too extensive to see on a single screen, and will yield a structured outline, the editor should provide an outline model to the Outline view.


When an editor has an interaction with the Outline view, notification about location should be two-way. That is, the user should be able to select something in the outline and have the editor position updated, and the user should be able to select something in the editor pane and have the outline view updated.

A context menu should be available, as appropriate, in the outline view which should support creation operations as appropriate.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.21

Notification about location between an editor and the Outline view should be two-way. A context menu should be available in the Outline view as appropriate.


If the edit model contains errors or warnings, they should be indicated in the Outline view. An error or warning image should be added to the item with the error or warning respectively. A container should have a red X if it there are errors on the container itself, a gray X if any of its descendents have errors (but not the container itself), and no X if neither the container nor any of its descendents have errors. For instance, in the following line, the addFastView method has an error, so an error image is added to the item and its parent.

ErrorsInOutline.gif

For this to work, care must be taken to design icons with overlay in mind, so that glyphs can be applied to the ancestor's icon.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.22

An error or warning image should be added to items with the error or warning respectively. A container should have a red X if it there are errors on the container itself, a gray X if any of its descendents have errors (but not the container itself), and no X if neither the container nor any of its descendents have errors.

In an editor, task objects are commonly used to mark a location within a document. Once a task has been created, it appears in the Task view. If the task is selected, you may reopen the editor at the location defined in the Task.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.23

If appropriate, implement the "Add Task" feature in your editor.

A bookmark object can also be used mark a location within a document. Once a bookmark has been created, it appears in the Bookmarks view. If the bookmark is selected, you may reopen the editor at the location defined in the Task.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.24

If appropriate, implement the "Add Bookmark" feature in your editor.

Line Numbers

Editors with source lines of text should have line numbers, and optionally column numbers. Editors should also support Navigate -> Goto Line... menu allowing users to quickly jump to a desired line. The current line and column numbers should be shown in the status line (column number is optional). It's optional for the editor to show line numbers for each line in the editor itself.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.25

Editors with source lines of text should show the current line and optionally column numbers the status line. It's optional for the editor to show line numbers for each line in the editor itself.

Table Cell Editors

If the editor contains tables with editable cells, a single-click over a cell should select the current item and put the cell into edit mode. In edit mode, any dropdowns, buttons, or other controls in the cell should be rendered upon the single-click.

CellTableEditor.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.26

Table cell editors should support the single-click activation model, and in edit mode, they should render complex controls upon single-click.


In addition, changes should be committed once a user clicks off the cell or hits ENTER.

The following are examples of good behaviour for a table cell editor:

- when put in edit mode, drop-down appears with current selection active & highlighted
Cell1.gif

- when cursoring through drop-down using arrow keys, it is possible to move up and down any number of choices and the drop-down stays visible until user makes an explicit selection
Cell2.gif

- first letter navigation is supported as a cursoring technique when the drop-down is visible
- supports the "Enter" key as a way of making an explicit selection via the keyboard when the drop-down is visible
- supports the "Esc" key as a way of canceling a selection via the keyboard when the drop-down is visible
- when put in edit mode, the drop-down control (the down-arrow image) appears with current selection active & highlighted
Cell3.gif

- when put in edit mode, it is possible to arrow key through the choices to make a selection without needing to invoke the drop-down

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.27

Changes made in a table cell editor should be committed when a user clicks off the cell or hits the "Enter" key. Selection should be cancelled when user hits the "Esc" key.First letter navigation should be supported as a cursoring mechanism within a cell.

Error Notification

If you are doing keystroke by keystroke validation in an editor, use red squiggles to underline the invalid content. When users move the mouse over the red squiggles, display the error text in a fly-over pop up box.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.28

When performing fine-grain error validation in an editor, use red squiggles to underline the invalid content. When users move the mouse over the red squiggles, display the error text in a fly-over pop up box.

When the Save command is invoked in an editor, use the Task view for showing errors which are persisted.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.29

Use the Task view to show errors found when the Save command is invoked.

Interaction With External Editors

While a resource is opened within the workbench, if modifications are made to it outside of the workbench, we recommend the following approach to handle this situation. When the Save command is invoked in the editor, users should be prompted to either override the changes made outside of the workbench, or back out of the Save operation. If desired, this user prompt can be invoked sooner such as when the editor regains the focus.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 6.30

If modifications to a resource are made outside of the workbench, users should be prompted to either override the changes made outside of the workbench, or back out of the Save operation when the Save command is invoked in the editor.

Views

A view is a visual component within a workbench page. It is used in a support role for the primary task. You use them to navigate a hierarchy of information, open an editor, or view properties for the active editor.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.1

Use a view to navigate a hierarchy of information, open an editor, or display the properties of an object.

Modifications made in a view should be saved immediately. For instance, if a file is modified in the Navigator, the changes are committed to the workspace immediately. A change made in the Outline view is committed to the edit model of the active editor immediately. For changes made in the Properties view, if the property is a property of an open edit model, it should be persisted to the edit model. If it is a property of a file, persist to file.

In the past, some views have tried to implement an editor style lifecycle, with a Save command. This can cause confusion. The File menu within a workbench window contains a Save command, but it only applies to the active editor. It should not target the active view. This leads to a situation where the File > Save command is in contradiction to the Save command within the view.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.2

Modifications made within a view must be saved immediately.

Within a perspective, only one instance of a particular view can be opened. This policy is designed to simplify part management for a user. The user opens a view by invoking Perspective > Show View. If, for any reason, they lose a view, or forget about its existence, they can simply invoke Perspective > Show view again to make the view visible.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.3

Only one instance of a view may exist in a perspective.

In a multi-tasking world, humans often perform more than one task at a time. In Eclipse, task separation can be achieved by creating a separate perspective for each task. In reflection of this, a view must be able to be opened in more than one perspective. If only one instance of a view may exist, the ability to multi-task is taken away.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.4

A view must be able to be opened in more than one perspective.

A view can be opened in two ways: by invoking Window > Show View > X menu, where X is the name of the view, or by invoking another command within the workbench. For instance, if you select a class in the Packages view, and invoke Open Type Hierarchy, a Hierarchy view opens with the class hierarchy for the selection.

It should be possible to open any view from the Window > Show View menu, either as an explicit item within the menu, or as an item within the Window > Show View > Other... dialog.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.5

A view can be opened from the Window > Show View menu.

Appearance

A view consists of a title area, a toolbar, a pulldown menu, and an embedded control.

The view label in the title bar must be prefixed with label of the view in Perspective > Show View menu. Given that it is impossible to change the entry in the Show View menu, this means you cannot change the name of a view. However, you can add additional text to the view label, to clarify the state of the view.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.6

The view label in the title bar must be prefixed with the label of the view in the Perspective > Show View menu.

In most cases, a view will contain a single control or viewer. However, it is possible to embed more than one viewer or control in the view. If these controls are linked, such that selection in one control changes the input of another, it may be better to separate the view into two. Users will have greater freedom to open one of the results views, as their needs arise. Special relationships can also be set up between these views to support the user task. In addition, this makes it easier for users to create a new perspective with a diverse set of views.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.7

If a view contains more than one control, it may be advisable to split it up into two or more views.

Initialization

When a view is opened, the input of the view should be derived from the state of the perspective. The view may consult the window input or selection, or the state of another view. For instance, if the Outline view is opened, it will determine the active editor, query the editor for an outline model, and display the outline model.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.8

When a view first opens, derive the view input from the state of the perspective.

If the view is used to navigate a hierarchy of resources (i.e., the Navigator or Packages view), the input of the view may be derived from the window input. The window input defines the scope of visible resources within the perspective, and is defined by the user if they select a resource in the Navigator and invoke Open in New Window. For instance, if the Navigator view is opened, it will ask its perspective for the window input. The result is used as the initial input for the view.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.9

If a view displays a resource tree, consider using the window input as the root of visible information in the view.

Menus

Use the view pulldown menu for presentation commands, not selection-oriented commands. These are commands which affect the presentation of the view, but not the objects within the view. Do not put presentation commands in the context menu. For instance, the Sort and Filter commands within the Navigator view affect the presentation of resources, but do not affect the resources themselves.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.10

Use the view pulldown menu for presentation commands, not selection-oriented commands.

For consistency with other views in Eclipse, each view should adopt a common order for commands within the pulldown menu. This order is shown in the following table.

View modes (e.g. the 3 modes in the Hierarchy view)
[separator required]
Working sets (e.g. Select/Deselect/Edit Working Set, used in Navigator and Package Explorer)
[separator required]
Sorting
[optional separator]
Filtering
[optional separator]
View layout (e.g. Horizontal vs. Vertical in Hierarchy view)
[optional separator]
Link with Editor
[separator required]
Other presentation commands from the view itself
[separator required]
Presentation commands from other plug-ins

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.11

Use the standard order of commands for view pulldown menus.

Toolbars

The toolbar is used to expose the most commonly used commands in a view. Any command which appears in the toolbar must also appear in the menu (either the context menu or the view menu), but there is no need to duplicate every command in the menu within the toolbar.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.12

Put only the most commonly used commands on the toolbar. Any command on a toolbar must also appear in a menu, either the context menu or the view menu.

Context Menus

A context menu should be used for context sensitive interaction with the objects in a view. If an object is selected in a view, and the context menu is opened, the context menu should only contain actions which are appropriate for the selection. Actions which affect the presentation of the view should not appear in the context menu.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.13

Fill the context menu with selection oriented actions, not presentation actions.

For consistency with other views in Eclipse, each view should adopt a common order for commands within the context menu. This order is shown in the following table. Within this table, each item represents a category of commands. The categories within the context menu should be kept distinct from one another through the use of separators.

New
Open
Navigate + Show In
Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Move, Rename and other refactoring commands
Other Plugin Additions
Properties

The New category contains actions which create new objects. The Open category contains actions which open the selection in an editor. Navigate contains actions to refocus the view input, or reveal the view selection in another view. And the other categories are self explanatory.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.14

Use the standard order of commands for view context menus.

For good spatial navigation of the menu, fill the context menu with a fixed set of commands for each selection type. Once the contents have been defined, the enablement state of each command should be determined using the selected object state. In doing so, you establish a consistency which makes the menu more predictable, and easier to navigate.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.15

Fill the context menu with a fixed set of commands for each selection type, and then enable or disable each to reflect the selection state.

An object in one view may be visible in many other views or editors. For instance, a .java file is visible in the Navigator, the Hierarchy view, and the Packages view. To the user, these objects are all the same, regardless of location, so the context menu for the .java file should be the same in each.

Implementation tip:
To achieve a consistent context menu, plug-in developers which introduce a new object type should contribute commands to the context menu using an action group(ActionGroup class), a Java class which populates the context menu. If this approach is used, the action group can be reused by other views where the same objects appear.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.16

If an object appears in more than one view, it should have the same context menu in each.

One of the primary goals for the platform UI is extensibility. In fact, it is this extensibility which gives you the freedom to add new views, editors, perspectives, and actions to the platform. Of course, extensibility is a two way street. While you may wish to extend the platform, others may wish to extend your view or editor. It is common for one plug-in to add actions to the menu, toolbar, or context menu of a view from another plugin.

In the platform, the menu and toolbar for a view are automatically extended by the platform. In contrast, context menu extension is supported in collaboration between the view and the platform. To achieve this collaboration, a view must register each context menu it contains with the platform. It should also define an command filter for each object type in the view. An command filter makes it easier for one plug-in to add an command to objects in a view defined by another plug-in. The command target is described using object type and attributes. For more information on the implementation of this concept, refer to Creating an Eclipse View.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.17

Register all context menus in the view with the platform.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.18

Implement an Command Filter for each object type in the view.

Integration with the Window Menu Bar and Toolbar

The window menu bar contains a number of global commands, such as Cut, Copy, and Paste within the Edit menu. These commands target the active part, as indicated by a shaded title area. If these commands are supported within a view, the view should hook these window commands, so that selection in the window menu bar or toolbar produces the same result as selection of the same command in the view.

A complete list of the global commands and built-in menus as declared in IWorkbenchActionConstants.java (see below).

File menu: Revert, Move, Rename, Refresh, Print, Properties
Edit menu: Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Select All, Find/Replace, Add Bookmark, Add Task
Navigate menu: Go Into, Back, Forward, Up One Level, Next, Previous, Back, Forward
Project menu: Open Project, Close Project, Build Project, Rebuild Project

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.19

If a view has support for Cut, Copy, Paste, or any of the global commands, these commands must be executable from the same commands in the window menu bar and toolbar.

Although a view can't directly contribute to the main menubar or toolbar in Eclipse v2.1, it can still cause commands to appear there using "action set / part associations" (the actionSetPartAssociations extension point) which lets you associate action sets with particular parts (views or editors). For example, the Java tooling in Eclipse uses this for the Package Explorer.

All commands for the view (or editor) should be made available on the main menubar, and only frequently used commands are on the context menu.

In addition, the primary perspective(s) for such views (e.g. the Java and Java Browsing perspectives) should already have these action sets associated with the perspective, to improve UI stability.

Persistence

One of the primary goals for the platform UI is to provide efficient interaction with the workspace. In the platform this is promoted by saving the state of the workbench when a session ends (the workbench is shut down). When a new session is started (the workbench is opened), this state is restored, reducing the time required for the user to get back to work.

If a view has a static input object, in the sense that its input is not derived from selection in other parts, the state of the view should be persisted between sessions. If a view has a dynamic or transient input object, there is no need to persist its state between sessions. Within the workbench, the state of the Navigator view, including the input and expansion state, is saved between sessions. For more information on the implementation of persistence, see "Creating an Eclipse View".

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.20

Persist the state of each view between sessions.



Navigation views should support "Link with Editor" on the view menu. In Eclipse v2.1, this feature works on a per-view setting. If it's expected that users will toggle it frequently, then it can also go on the toolbar, but this is not required (the Hierarchy view and the views in the Java Browsing perspective support it, but don't have it on the toolbar, since they expect linking to almost always be on).

The behaviour of "Link with Editor" is:

  • when toggled off, no linking occurs (either view->editor or editor->view)
  • when toggled on, linking occurs in both directions:
    • view->editor: when the selection is changed in the view, it brings any corresponding previously-open editor to front, but does not activate it (the view must keep focus)
    • editor->view: when the user switches between editors, the view updates its selection to correspond to the active editor
  • when turned on, it should immediately synchronize the selection in the view with the frontmost editor, if applicable
  • this is not the same as single-click mode -- it does not cause new editors to be opened
  • changing the setting affects only the current view instance, not other instances of the same type
  • the view should persist the state of this setting separately for each view instance, and also globally (but separately for each view type, e.g. Navigator and Package Explorer persist their last setting separately)
  • when opening a new instance of the view, it should use the last global setting
  • the default setting (if there's no previously persisted global setting) is up to the view, but primary navigation views like the Navigator and Package Explorer default to off

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 7.21

Navigation views should support "Link with Editor" on the view menu


Perspectives

A perspective is a visual container for a set of views and editors (parts). Different perspectives can have different sets of views open, but if they both have the same view open, it's shared between them (but only if they are in the same workbench window). Editors are always all shared between perspectives in the same window.

A new perspective is opened by invoking Window -> Open Perspective -> X, where X identifies a particular perspective in Eclipse. The result is a new perspective in the workbench window with type X. For instance, if you invoke Window -> Open Perspective -> Resource, a new perspective is opened with type Resource. Eclipse comes with a pre-defined number of perspective types, such as Resource, Java, and Debug. The perspective type determines the initial layout of views, and visibility of command sets within the perspective.

As a plug-in developer, you may contribute new perspective types to Eclipse. To do this, you must define a perspective extension. Each extension has a perspective factory, a Java class which defines the initial layout of views, and visibility of command sets within the perspective. You can also add your own actions or views to an existing perspective type. For more information on the implementation of these concepts, see Using Perspectives in the Eclipse UI.

A new perspective type should be created when there is a group of related non-modal tasks which would benefit from a predefined configuration of commands and views, and these tasks are long lived. A task oriented approach is imperative. As a development environment, Eclipse was designed to fulfill the needs of a large product development team, from product manager to content developer to product tester. It is fully extensible and may be configured with hundreds of command, wizard, view and editor extensions. In other words, it may contain a lot of features you'll never use. To avoid the visual overload and confusion which would occur if everything was visible in the UI, a perspective can be used to limit the presentation to a task-oriented set of views and command sets.

For instance, the task of Java code creation is long lived and complex, so the creation of a Java perspective is warranted. In Eclipse, the Java perspective contains an editor area, Packages Explorer view, Hierarchy view, Tasks view, and Outline view. The Java and Debug command sets are also visible. Together, these components are useful for a variety of long lived, Java coding tasks.

It is not appropriate to create a new perspective type for short lived tasks. For instance, the task of resource check-in is short lived, so it may be better performed using a view in the current perspective.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.1

Create a new perspective type for long lived tasks, which involve the performance of smaller, non-modal tasks.

If your plug-in contributes a small number of views, and these augment an existing task, it is better to add those views to an existing perspective. For instance, if you create a view which augments the task of Java code creation, don't create a new perspective. Instead, add it to the existing Java perspective. This strategy provides better integration with the existing platform.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.2

If you just want to expose a single view, or two, extend an existing perspective type.

View Layout

If the user opens a new perspective, the initial layout of views will be defined by the perspective type (i.e., Resource, Java). This layout is performed in the perspective factory, a Java class associated with the perspective type. When the perspective is initialized, it consists of an editor area with no additional views. The perspective factory may add new views, using the editor area as the initial point of reference.

The size and position of each view is controlled by the perspective factory. These attributes should be defined in a reasonable manner, such that the user can resize or move a view if they desire it. An important issue to consider is the overall flow between the views (and editors) in the perspective. For example, initially the navigation views may be placed to the left of the editor area, outline views may be placed either to the right of the editor area or below the navigation view, and other supporting views may be placed below and to the right of the editor area.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.3

The size and position of each view in a perspective should be defined in a reasonable manner, such that the user can resize or move a view if they desire it. When defining the initial layout, it is important to consider the overall flow between the views (and editors) in the perspective.

A perspective should have at least two parts, including the visible views and the editor area. If this is not the case, then the perspective should be re-examined to determine if it is better suited as a view or editor.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.4

If a perspective has just one part, it may be better suited as a view or editor.

In some scenarios, it may be undesirable to have an editor area within a perspective. In this case, the perspective factory should hide the editor area, using the existing java methods. It is not acceptable to resize the editor area to a point where it is no longer visible. If the user does open an editor in the perspective, for whatever reason, they will be unable to see or resize it.

When the editor area is programmatically hidden, if the user opens an editor in the perspective, the editor area will become visible. The view that occupied the editor area before will be shrunk. Therefore, it is important to define a non-empty editor area even when the editor is programmatically hidden.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.5

If it is undesirable to have an editor area in a perspective, hide it. Do not resize the editor area to the point where it is no longer visible.

Command Contribution

The perspective factory may add actions to the File > New, Window > Open Perspective , and Window > Show View menus. It is also possible to add one or more command sets to the window. In each case, you should choose commands which are relevant to the task orientation of the perspective.

The File > New menu should be populated with wizards for the creation of objects commonly used in the task. For instance, in the Java perspective the File > New menu contains menu items for the creation of packages, classes, and interfaces.

The Window > Show View menu should be populated with the initial views in the perspective, as well as any extra views that may be important for the task at hand. The Navigate > Show In menu should be used to allow users to navigate in their contents.

ShowViewMenu.gif

The application development lifecycle should be considered when populating the the Window - Open Perspective menu. The development of most applications follow a well defined lifecycle, from designing / modeling, to editing / creating, to debugging / testing, to assembling / deploying. Each perspective will fall into one of these steps. The Open Perspective menu should be used to link the current perspective to perspectives that support tasks immediately downstream of the current one, as well as tasks further upstream, to allow for iterative development.

For instance, the Java perspective is used in a larger lifecycle, involving Java and Debug tasks. The Window > Open Perspective menu is populated with each of these perspectives.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.6

Populate the window menu bar with commands and command sets which are appropriate to the task orientation of the perspective, and any larger workflow.

Opening a Perspective in Code

An command should only open a new perspective if the user explicitly states a desire to do so. If the user does not state a desire to do so, it may cause loss of context.

For instance, imagine a scenario where the user selects an object and invokes an command. In the perspective where the command is invoked, the user may have a set of views and editors open. These represent the working state, or context, of the user. If a new perspective is created, that context will be left behind, forcing the user to recreate the context. This is time wasted.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.7

A new perspective should be opened only if the user explicitly states a desire to do so. In making this statement, the user agrees to leave their old context, and create a new one.

In some cases, a new perspective is opened as the side effect of another command. For instance, if users start debugging their application code, they may be switched to the Debug perspective. If this behavior is implemented, the user should have the option to turn this behavior off. The option can be exposed in the command dialog, or within a Preference page.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.8

If a new perspective is opened as a side effect of another command, the user should be able to turn this behavior off.

If a new perspective is opened, it may be opened within the current window, or in a new window. The user controls this option using the Workbench preferences. If code within a plug-in opens a new perspective, the plug-in should honor the user preference.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.9

If a new perspective is opened, it should be opened within the current window, or in a new window, depending on the user preference.

With regard to command contributions applied to the New, Open Perspective, and Show View menus, the list of wizards, perspectives, and views added as shortcuts to these menus should be at most 7 plus / minus 2 items.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 8.10

The list of shortcuts added to the New, Open Perspective, and Show View menus should be at most 7 plus / minus 2 items.


Windows

In this section we look at the window menu bar, toolbar, and layout. As a plug-in developer, you can contribute actions to the menu bar and toolbar using an action set, a set of task oriented actions which the user can show or hide. You can control the layout of views within a window by defining a perspective. In this section we'll look at action extension. For more information on perspectives, see Perspectives.

Actions

Each workbench window contains a menu bar and toolbar. These are pre-populated by the platform, but a plug-in developer may add additional items to each. This is done by defining an action set, a set of task oriented actions which the user can show or hide. The actions within an action set may be distributed throughout the window menu bar and toolbar.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.1

Use an Action Set to contribute actions to the window menu bar and toolbar.

The window menu bar contains a number of pulldown menus: File, Edit, Navigate, Project, Window, and Help. Each of these has a different purpose, which will be explained in the following paragraphs. For consistency with the action sets contributed by other plug-ins, the commands within an action set should conform to the existing distribution of actions in the window. There is no need to group the actions in a separate pulldown menu of the menu bar.

The File menu contains file oriented actions, such as Save, Close, Print, Import, Export and Exit. The contents of the File > New menu are determined by the perspective type. However, the user may add or remove items using the Window -> Customize Perspective... menu item. The contents of the Import and Export dialogs are populated with every import and export wizard, respectively.

The Edit menu contains editor oriented actions, such as Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, and Paste. These actions target the active part (as indicated by a shaded title bar) . It is very common for an editor to add items to this menu. However, it is uncommon for an action set to add actions to the Edit Menu; action sets tend to be global in nature, while the edit menu targets a specific part, and interaction with the data in that part.

The Navigate menu contains navigational actions such as Go to, Open Type, Show In, to enable users to browse laterally or drill down in their code.

The Project menu contains actions which apply to the contents of the workspace, such as Rebuild All and Open Type. An action set may add actions which search the entire workspace, generate project info and so on.

The Window menu contains actions which apply to window management and system preferences. It also contains the Open Perspective and Show View submenu which contains actions affecting the state of the window contents.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.2

Follow the platform lead when distributing actions within an Action Set.

The toolbar contains the most commonly used actions of the menu bar. In reflection of this, you should contribute actions to the menu bar first, and then to the toolbar if they will be frequently used.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.3

Contribute actions to the window menu bar first, and then to the window toolbar if they will be frequently used.

The contents of each action set should be defined using a task oriented approach. For instance, the Java action set contains actions to create a new package, class and interfaces. It also contains an command to open an editor on a class, Goto Type. These form a cohesive set of related actions, which can be turned on and off by the user, depending on the active task.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.4

Define each action set with a specific task in mind.

The size of an action set is also important. If an action set is too large, it will flood the menu or toolbar, and reduce the users ability to customize the menu and toolbar. At the same time, if an action set is too small, the user may find customization of the menu and toolbar is too labor intensive. Break an action set up when it has more than about 7 items.

There is no magic number for the size of an action set, but it should be carefully designed to contain the smallest possible semantic chunking of actions. Avoid the temptation to provide only one action set for an entire plug-in.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.5

An action set should contain the smallest possible semantic chunking of actions. Avoid the temptation to provide only one action set for an entire plug-in.

An action set can be used to share a set of actions between two or more views and editors. For instance, a Java Refactor action set may be applicable to the selection within a Java Editor, an Outline view, and a Hierarchy View. In this situation the actions can be shared by defining an action set extension for the workbench. Once this action set has been defined, it can be automatically included in a perspective by the perspective developer, or added to a perspective by the user.

An action set should not be used to promote command from a single view to the window menu bar and toolbar. This simply clutters up the user interface.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.6

Use an action set to share a set of actions which are useful in two or more views or editors.

The set of visible command in a window may be changed by invoking Window > Customize Perspective. Within the resulting dialog, you can add or remove items from the File > New menu, Window > Open Perspective menu, or Window > Show View menu. It is also possible to add or remove action sets. In general, the visible action sets should be controlled by the user, and should never be changed programmatically. There are two reasons for this. First, users like to control the environment, not be controlled. And second, the user is in the best position to understand the active task, and the appropriate action sets for its completion.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.7

Let the user control the visible action sets. Don't try to control it for them.

A common example of an command which may be added to an action set is Navigate > Open Type. This command can be used to open an editor on a type which is not visible in the current window, and is a form of lateral navigation. In general, all Open actions which take the form should be added to the Navigate menu, for consistency.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.8

"Open Object" actions must appear in the Navigate pulldown menu of the window.

Status Bar

If there is a need for a plug-in to show non-modal contextual information in the status bar area, always use the global status bar. For example, editors use the global status bar to show the current line and column number.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 9.9

Always use the global status bar to display status related messages.

Properties

A Properties dialog or view is used to view / modify the properties of an object which are not visible in the normal presentation of that object. For instance, the Read Only attribute for a file is modified in the Properties Dialog. The build path for a Java Project is modified in the Properties Dialog.

Within Eclipse, there are two ways to edit the properties of an object: in the Properties dialog, and in the Properties view. Each of these is applicable in different situations.

The Properties view is commonly used to edit the properties for a set of objects in an editor, where quick access to the properties is important, and you switch from one object to another quickly.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 10.1

Use the Properties view to edit the properties of an object when quick access is important, and you will switch quickly from object to object.

The properties for an object should be quick to calculate. If it is too expensive to calculate the properties for an object, the quick access to properties offered by the Properties view becomes worthless. In this situation, where quick access is not possible, a Properties Dialog should be used.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 10.2

Use a Properties Dialog to edit the properties of an object which are expensive to calculate.

In some cases, the properties for an object are dependent upon one another, such that a change in one will affect another, or even enable / disable the option to change another. In this situation, a Properties Dialog may be a better way to represent the semantic link between these properties.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 10.3

Use a Properties Dialog to edit the properties of an object which contain complex relationships to one another.

When both the Properties view and the Properties Dialog are used to present and edit properties of an object, the Properties Dialog should contain the superset of items shown in the Properties view.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 10.4

Properties Dialog should contain the superset of items shown in the Properties view.

Widgets

In this section, we will describe some of the recommended designs for Standard Windows Toolkit (SWT) widgets.

Tree and Table

For Tree and Table widgets that have a checkbox associated with a cell item, users can either select the item or change the checkbox state. Changing the current selection should not automatically change the check state of the selected item. However, the current selection should be set to a given item when its check state is changed (e.g. users click on the checkbox associated with the item).

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 11.1

For Tree and Table widgets that have a checkbox associated with a cell item, changing the current selection should not automatically change the check state of the selected item. However, the current selection should be set to a given item when its check state is changed.


Standard Components

In this section we'll look at the standard components which ship with Eclipse. The Eclipse SDK contains a number of views, including the Navigator, Outline, Properties, Tasks, and Bookmarks view. Eclipse also contains a default text editor and a Resource perspective.

As a plug-in developer, you should try to add new actions to the existing parts. This leads to better integration with the platform, and the existing knowledge of the user.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 12.1

If appropriate, add actions to standard components of Eclipse using the plug-in registry.


When extending the standard components such as the Navigator, Outline, Properties, Tasks, and Bookmark views, make sure your specialized components carry over the base component's characteristics (drag and drop support, keyboard navigation, selection behaviour, etc.)

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 12.2

If you subclass or copy any of the standard components, always carry over the standard components' characteristics.


The Navigator View

The Navigator is used to navigate the workspace, create new resources, modify resources, and open an editor on a resource. Plug-in developers may contribute new actions to the menu, toolbar, and context menu.

Adding Actions

This is done by adding an extension to the plug-in registry.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 13.1

Add actions to the Navigator View menu, toolbar, and context menu using the plug-in registry.

If object contributions are made to the context menu, try to qualify the target object as much as possible, to avoid adding the command to the wrong objects in the Navigator. For instance, a Java command may target IFiles with a .java extension, or IProjects with a Java nature. It will cause confusion if Java actions appear on non-java objects.

Some actions are a reflection of tool use, rather than object type. For instance, a repository plug-in may provide actions for file check in, check out, etc. These actions should only appear on the resources in the Navigator if the user has actively chosen to use the repository tool. To control the visibility of these actions, the plug-in should apply a project nature to the managed resources, and use the project nature attribute in all context menu contributions.

For more information on command filtering, refer to Creating an Eclipse View. The standard attributes for resources are defined in IResourceActionFilter.java (see below).

public interface IResourceActionFilter extends IActionFilter {
        public static final String NAME = "name"; 
        public static final String EXTENSION = "extension";
        public static final String PATH = "path"; 
        public static final String READ_ONLY = "readOnly"; 
        public static final String PROJECT_NATURE = "projectNature";  
}

The standard attributes for project filtering are defined in IProjectActionFilter.java.

public interface IProjectActionFilter extends IResourceActionFilter {
        public static final String NATURE = "nature";
        public static final String OPEN = "open";
}

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 13.2

Use the attributes defined in IResourceActionFilter.java and IProjectActionFilter.java to control the visibility of context menu actions in the Navigator.

Integration with Other Views and Editors

In Eclipse, the use of a "Navigate -> Show In" command is a common way to link the selection in one view to the input of another. For instance, a "Show in Package Explorer" command is visible in the context menu for a selected class in the source editor. When invoked, the class in the source editor is selected and revealed in the Package Explorer view. This approach should be used as a general, non intrusive pattern for view or editor linking. It is context sensitive, and reflects the intentions of the user.

A "Navigate -> Show In Navigator" command should be included in any view where a resource may appear. If invoked, the command should select and reveal the resource in the navigator.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 13.3

Use a "Navigate -> Show In Navigator" command in each view, to link resources back to the Navigator.

The Tasks View

The Tasks view is used to display the current tasks, errors and warnings in the workspace. A plug-in developer may contribute new tasks, errors, and warnings to the workspace, and rely upon the Tasks view to display those objects. You can also contribute new actions to the menu, toolbar, and context menu. This is done by adding an extension to the plug-in registry.

Adding Tasks

A new task, error or warning can be created using the Marker Manager services from the Core Resources Management plugin.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 14.1

Add markers (tasks, errors and warnings) to the Tasks view using the Marker Manager services from the Core Resources Management plugin.

The Tasks view is a table, containing columns for the task image, completion status, priority, description, resource, and line number. The description text of each marker should be short and concise, so that it will fit in the status line of Eclipse.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 14.2

The description text of each marker should be short and concise, so that it will fit in the status line of Eclipse.

Adding Actions

You can contribute new actions to the menu, toolbar, and context menu. This is done by adding an extension to the plug-in registry.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 14.3

Add actions to the Tasks view menu, toolbar, and context menu using the plug-in registry.

If object contributions are made to the context menu, try to qualify the target object as much as possible, to avoid adding the command to the wrong objects in the Tasks view. At an implementation level, each object in the Tasks view is a marker, a general mechanism for associate notes with a resource. Use the attributes within IMarkerActionFilter.java to control the visibility of Task object actions (see below). For more information on command filtering, refer to Creating an Eclipse View.

public interface IMarkerActionFilter extends IActionFilter {
        public static final String TYPE = "type";
        public static final String SUPER_TYPE = "superType";
        public static final String PRIORITY = "priority";
        public static final String SEVERITY = "severity";
        public static final String DONE = "done";
        public static final String MESSAGE = "message";
}


GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 14.4

Use the attributes defined in IMarkerActionFilter.java to control the visibility of context menu actions in the Tasks view.

Integration with Other Views and Editors

In an editor, task objects are commonly used to mark a location within a document. Once a task has been created, it appears in the Task view. If this task is selected (via double clicking), you should reopen the editor at the location defined in the task. The focus should be changed from the Task view to the editor.

If appropriate, support for the creation of new task objects in an editor should be implemented by the editor. For more information on this, see Editors.

Adding F1 Help to Task View

Plug-ins should support F1 keyboard command and link it to an infopop that gives a detailed description of the selected item in the Task view.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 14.5

Support F1 keyboard command and link it to an infopop that gives a detailed description of the selected item in the Task view.

The Preference Dialog

The Preference Dialog is used to edit the global preference for a feature in the workbench.

A new preference page should be created when you need to expose global options to the user. For instance, the global preferences for Java compilation are exposed as a group of preference pages in the Preference Dialog. If these preferences are changed, they affect the entire Java plug-in.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 15.1

Global options should be exposed within the Preferences Dialog.

A preference page should not be used to expose the local options for a particular instance of a view, editor, or window. In this situation, the user will look to the menu and toolbar of the control itself to customize it. If these options are exposed in the Preference Dialog, it will blur the location of customization, and confuse the user.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 15.2

Expose the preferences for a particular view, editor or window in the view itself, via a menu or tool item.

Preference Page Design

In the simplest case, any plug-in which needs to expose an option to the user will define a single preference page. This preference page should contain all of the options for the plug-in, until the number of options starts to overload the page. At that point a nested design for preference pages should be adopted.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 15.3

Start out with a single preference page. Then evolve to more if you need to.

In a nested design, a root preference page is added to the preference dialog, and then sub pages are added to the root preference page. The root preference page should never be blank. Instead, it should contain the most commonly used preferences, or those preferences which have a wide spread effect upon the plug-in behavior. Beneath the root page, a sub page should be created for each major chunk of functionality within the plug-in.

There is no reason to set the focus in a preference page, because focus is always set to the tree, by the Eclipse platform, after the preference page is made visible.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 15.4

If you create a preference group, use the root page for frequently used preferences, or those preferences which have wide spread effect. Specialize within the sub pages. The root preference page should not be blank.


Each new plug-in should integrate its plug-in preferences, wizards, and views into existing preference, wizard, and view categories where it makes sense, rather than the blind creation of new categories for itself.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 15.5

Attempt to integrate plug-in preferences, wizards, and views into existing categories for a new plug-in first, before considering the creation of a new category.

The Outline View

In Eclipse, there is a special relationship between an editor and the Outline view. When an editor is opened, the Outline view will connect to the editor, and ask it for an outline model. If the editor answers an outline model, that model will be displayed in the Outline view whenever the editor is active. The outline is used to navigate through the edit data, or interact with the edit data at a higher level of abstraction.

If you are an editor developer, the relationship between an editor and the Outline view is important. For more information on the collaboration between these two, see Editors.

The Properties View

The Properties view shows the properties for the active part in the workbench, or the selection within that part. These properties are supplied by the active part itself. The Properties view is simply a container for their presentation.

Within Eclipse, the properties for an object can be exposed using a Properties dialog, or the Properties view. The Properties view is commonly used to edit the properties for a set of objects in an editor, where quick access to the properties is important, and you switch from one object to another quickly.

For more information on the use of the Properties view, or Properties dialog, refer to Properties.

The Bookmarks View

The Bookmarks view is used to bookmark files, and open them quickly. A plug-in developer may contribute new bookmarks to the workspace, and rely upon the Bookmarks view to display those bookmarks. You can also contribute new actions to the menu, toolbar, and context menu. This is done by adding an extension to the plug-in registry.

In an editor, bookmark objects are commonly used to mark a location within a document. Once a bookmark has been created, it appears in the Bookmarks view. If this bookmark is selected, you may reopen the editor at the location defined in the bookmark.

If appropriate, support for the creation of new bookmark objects should be implemented by the editor. For more information on this, see Editors.

The Text Editor

The Text Editor is commonly used to edit text files. A plug-in developer can contribute new actions to the menu, toolbar, and context menu. This is done by adding an extension to the plug-in registry. For more information on this, see Editors.

The Resource Perspective

The Resource perspective contains a Navigator, Outline, Task view, and editor area. Plug-in developers may contribute a new command, action set, or view to the Resource perspective. For more information, refer to Perspectives.


Flat Look Design

The Eclipse platform provides a Web user interface, also known as Flat Look, design alternative for implementing content editors. For example, the editor in the Eclipse plug-in development environment (PDE) perspective uses Flat Look.

Flatlook1.gif

The Flat Look design may be more suitable for certain type of user tasks, and more appealing to certain user profile. However, this design should not be used just because it provides a different look than the native platform look and feel. The use of Flat Look design should be considered in the context of the supported user scenarios. This design is usually a good fit for extensive property and configuration editing, such as editing Eclipse's plugin.xml file, and J2EE Web application's deployment descriptors.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 16.1

Use Flat Look design for user scenarios that involve extensive property and configuration editing.

When required, use a "More..." button for navigation purpose (function similar to a hyperlink).

File:Flatlook2.gif

On the overview page, initially expand basic or core sections, but collapse advanced sections. On non-overview pages, provide a "Home" icon which takes users back to the overview page

Flatlook3.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 16.2

Have the core sections on the overview page expanded, and provide a "Home" icon on other pages to take users back to the overview page.

Don't use tabs within a Flat Look editor tab. Use an alternative design or rendering of the tabs.

Flatlook4.gif

When applicable, always provide a "Source" tab. Assign mnemonics for sections, controls, etc. for keyboard navigation.

Flatlook5.gif

Editor and Outline View Interaction

Plug-ins that use Flat Look design for content editor should provide support for full two way interactions between the editor and outline view.

In the outline view, use grouping elements corresponding to tabs in the content editor for the organization of the tree view.

Flatlook6.gif

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 16.3

Use grouping elements corresponding to tabs in the Flat Look content editor for the organization of the tree view in outline view.


The Tao of Resource

In Eclipse, the notion of a tool disappears. In its place, is the idea of a universal tool platform - an open, extensible IDE - where tool plug-ins are added to extend the capabilities of the platform. These plug-ins "teach" Eclipse how to work with things - java files, web content, graphics, video - almost anything you can imagine. At an implementation level, these plug-ins communicate using resources (projects, folders, and files). The resource is the common medium for integration between plugins and external tools.

The resource concept was developed for a number of reasons:

  1. Integration between a plug-in from one vendor, and a plug-in from another, is only possible if there is a common, well known data abstraction.
  2. Integration with external tools is only possible if everything, at some level, is a file.


Resources are also important at the UI level. If an object command, decorator, or property page contribution is made to an IResource, the platform will ensure that this contribution is visible in any view or editor where the resource appears. For instance, a .java file will be visible in the Navigator, the Hierarchy view, and the Packages view. To the user, the .java file is the same object, regardless of the view where it appears, so the object appearance, context menu, and properties should be consistent in each view.

In some cases, the implementation of a particular view or editor may wrap a resource within another object, for presentation purposes. If the wrapper is equivalent to a resource, it is important to expose this equivalence to the platform. If the resource is exposed, the platform may apply resource contributions to the resource equivalent object. This ensures presentation consistency for an object in the platform.

The underlying resource for an object is exposed by implementing IAdaptable on the model object, and answering an IContributorResourceAdapter. For more information on the implementation of an IContributorResourceAdapter, refer to Eclipse Corner.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 17.1

Expose the resource for resource equivalent model objects using an IContributorResourceAdapter.


Accessibility

In a view, editor, or other control, every features should be accessible using a mouse or the keyboard.

In a dialog or wizard, a shortcut key should be defined for each button or control. The shortcut key should be displayed with an underline beneath the appropriate shortcut character.

GuidelineIndicator.gifGuideline 18.1

All of the features provided by a tool should be accessible using a mouse or the keyboard.

Standard Accelerators

The Eclipse platform has defined a large number of shortcut keys. Plug-in developers should make sure that the existing shortcut keys do not conflict with the shortcut keys defined in the plug-in.

Key {Key} by itself SHIFT+{Key} CTRL+{Key} CTRL+SHIFT+{Key} ALT+{Key} CTRL+ALT+{Key}
A Edit / Select All
B Project / Build (View) Bookmarks
C Edit / Copy
D (JDT editor) Display
E (JDT editor) Next Problem (JDT editor) Previous Problem
F Edit / Find / Replace
G
H Edit / Search
I
J
K (View) Tasks
L Edit / Go to Line
M (JDT editor) Add Import (JDT) Refactor / Move
N File / New / Other (View) Navigator
O (JDT editor) Organize Imports (View) Outline
P File / Print (View) Properties
Q (JDT editor) Inspect
R
S File / Save File / Save All Window / Switch to Editor
T (JDT) Open Type
U
V Edit / Paste
W
X Edit / Cut (JDT) Refactor / Extract method
Y Edit / Redo (JDT) Refactor / Redo
Z Edit / Undo (JDT) Refactor / Undo
Space (JDT editor) Content Assist
Backspace Windows: Undo
Tab (JDT editor) Shift Right (JDT editor) Shift Left
Insert Windows: Paste Windows: Copy
Delete Edit / Delete Windows: Cut Edit / Delete
Home
End
Page Up
Page Down
Insert
Delete
Hyphen (-) Show System Menu Show View Menu
Left Arrow
Right Arrow
Up Arrow
Down Arrow
F1 Help Help Help Help
F2 (Navigator view) Rename, (JDT editor) Open JavaDoc
F3 (JDT editor) Open on Selection
F4 (JDT editor) Open Type Hierarchy File / Close All File / Close
F5 (Navigator view) Refresh, (Properties view) Refresh, (Debug) Step Into
F6 (Debug) Step Over Next Editor Previous Editor
F7 (Debug) Run to Return Next View Previous View
F8 (Debug) Resume
F9
F10 (Debug) Relaunch last
F11 (Debug) Debug (Debug) Run
F12 Activate Editor Activate Editor


Best Practices

In this section, we provide examples of best practices for designing and implementing some common user interactions within the Eclipse platform.

Syntax and Compilation Error Handling

When designing editors that provide syntax or compilation checking support, follow the Java tooling design in the Eclipse platform.

Provide on the fly syntax checking if possible. Use red "squiggle" to indicate where the potential error is located in the source code. Use a red box on the side bar on the right side to indicate the approximate error position in the file. Use a prominent marker on the upper right hand corner to indicate that the file contains errors or warnings. Use red color to indicate errors, and use yellow to indicate warnings.

Bp1.gif

After users perform a save operation, user a more prominent marker on the left hand side margin to indicate errors and warnings in the file. When using the mouse pointer to hover over the marker, the description text should be displayed. In addition, show the icon decorator in the content editor tab. In the tree view that shows the resource in the Eclipse workspace, use icon decorator to indicate errors or warnings associated with this resource, and propagate the icon decorator indication up to the parents of the resource in the tree view. Finally, an entry should be added to the Task view to list the errors and warnings.

Bp2.gif

Coding Assistance

In addition to supporting the standard content assist in an editor, editors should exploit the use of Quick Fixes and Quick Assist. Use the light bulb marker on the left hand side margin to provide suggestions on how to fix problems with the source code. Users can click on the light bulb or use Edit -> Quick Fix menu item to invoke this command.

Bp3.gif

Even when there are no syntax errors in the file, users should be able to obtain certain quick assistance with their code using the Quick Fix mechanism. For example, assigning an expression to a local variable.

Bp4.gif


If an editor is used for writing code in a given programming language, hyper-linked code support should be enabled. While using the mouse pointer to hover over the source code, pressing the Ctrl key will turn the programming language constructs such as class, method, and field identifiers into clickable links to the corresponding declaration.

Bp5.gif


When possible, a plug-in should provide refactoring support at the programming language or application development level. For example, if users rename a method in a Java class, refactoring support should enable users to automatically find and fix up all references. If users change the URL for a given resource in a Web application, refactoring support should enable users to automatically update the references to the modified URL.

Bp6.gif

Context Menu

Here is one suggested process to reason why a menu item should be added or removed from the context menu. The objective is to reduce the number of context menu items to no more than 20.

First, remove menu items that are not sensitive to selections. Second, remove menu items that are not frequently used. Third,?examine the items that are not sensitive?to selection but are frequently used. Add at most of 5 of these items back. Fourth,?remove all disabled menu items, except for clipboard operations such as copy and paste, and team, compare and replace submenus. Fifth, remove menu items that are frequently used, selection sensitive, but have a dominant keyboard shortcut key defined, except for clipboard and save operations.

Labels, Fonts and Layout for Flat Look Design

For Flat Look design, when using buttons with ellipses (except for the "More..." button), it should pop up a secondary window which can be a dialog box or a wizard.

Use Title capitalization for section titles. The distance between section columns should be 32 pixels.

On pages with listbox on the left hand side, the distance be between the list box and the right-hand column (e.g. showing properties for a selected listbox item) should be 10 pixels.

Flatlook7.gif


For labels and fields, use RGB value (160, 160, 164) for enabled state, RBG value (0, 0, 0) for read-only state, and RBG value (128, 128, 128) for disabled state.

Flatlook8.gif

For listbox control, use RBG value (0, 0, 0) for the border to indicate enabled state, use RBG value (128, 128, 128) for disabled state.

Flatlook9.gif

Decorators

Enabling and disabling the decorators are extremely useful when the decorations performed by two or more decorators conflict with each other. For example, the CVS plug-in might decorate the base image by superimposing the base image with a custom image while the "Decorate Example" plug-in might superimpose a different custom image at the same position thereby conflicting with the CVS plug-in decoration. If the decoration performed by two different decorators on the same resource conflict, users should appropriately enable / disable different decorators to get the required decoration.

Implementation tip:
It is very important to design custom decorators that don't conflict with basic decorations provided by different Eclipse views. For example, the package explorer view decorates Java files with problem markers (a problem marker is placed at the bottom left hand corner) if there are compilation errors. It is a bad practice to decorate resources with custom decoration exactly at the position of a problem marker and developers should avoid this. If the custom decoration is performed at the bottom left corner, then custom decoration and the problem marker decoration, if any, conflict each other and hence users will not be able to view the decorations. The solution to the above mentioned problem is to provide a custom image decoration at the bottom right corner which does not conflict with the basic image decoration provided by Eclipse. The top left corner is the second best place although it conflicts with the binary project decorator. The bottom left and top right should be avoided as they are decorated outside of the decorator mechanism


Checklist For Developers

Here is a checklist for developers who are developing UI plugins. This could be used for certification purposes.

General UI Guidelines

The Spirit of Eclipse

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.1

Follow and apply good user interface design principles: user in control, directness, consistency, forgiveness, feedback, aesthetics, and simplicity.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.2

Follow the platform lead for user interface conventions.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.3

Be careful not to mix UI metaphors. It may blur the original concept, and your own application.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.4

If you have an interesting idea, work with the Eclipse community to make Eclipse a better platform for all.

Capitalization

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.5

Use Headline style capitalization for menus, tooltip and all titles, including those used for windows, dialogs, tabs, column headings and push buttons. Capitalize the first and last words, and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Do not include ending punctuation.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.6

Use Sentence style capitalization for all control labels in a dialog or window, including those for check boxes, radio buttons, group labels, and simple text fields. Capitalize the first letter of the first word, and any proper names such as the word Java.

Language

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.7

Create localized version of the resources within your plug-in.

Error Handling

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.8

When an error occurs which requires either an explicit user input or immediate attention from users, communicate the occurrence with a modal dialog.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 1.9

If a programming error occurs in the product, communicate the occurrence with a dialog, and log it.


Visual Design

Consistency

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.1

Re-use the core visual concepts to maintain consistent representation and meaning across Eclipse plug-ins.

Icon Palettes

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.2

Use the Eclipse 256 color palette for creating the active or selected state of all icon types.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.3

Use the Eclipse 8 color palette for creating the enabled state of perspective, view, toolbar, toolbar wizard, and local toolbar icons.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.4

Use the Eclipse 2 color palette for creating the disabled state of toolbar, toolbar wizard, and local toolbar icons.

Icon Types

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.5

Use the appropriate icon type in the location it is designed for within the user interface.

Icon Size & Placement

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.6

Follow the specific size specifications for each type of icon.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.7

Cut the icons with the specific placement shown to ensure alignment in the user interface.

Icon Positioning

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.8

Follow the positioning guidelines for the different types of icons for optimal alignment of these elements relative to one another.

Icon Positioning

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.9

Use the Eclipse special blue 183 color palette for creating wizard graphics.

Wizard Size & Placement

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.10

Follow the specific size specifications for wizard graphics.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.11

Cut the wizard graphics with the specific placement shown to ensure alignment in the wizard banner area.

Implementation Conventions

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.12

Follow the predefined directory structure and naming convention.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.13

Keep the original directory names provided.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.14

Minimize duplication of graphics within a plugin by keeping all graphics in one, or few, first level user interface directories.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.15

Use the active, enabled, and disabled states provided.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.16

Abbreviate file name instead of using the full icon name, e.g. New Interface becomes "newint".

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.17

Use lower case characters in your file names, e.g. DTD becomes "dtd".

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.18

Use 10 characters or less in your file names if possible (underscores count as a character).

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.19

Use a file name suffix that describes its location or function in the tool, e.g. newint_wiz.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.20

Use transparent *.gif format for all user interface icons and wizard graphics, unless the context requires a different file format.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 2.21

Keep the original file names provided.


Component Development

Commands

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 3.1

Each command must have a label, tool tip, and full color image. The label and tool tip must use Headline style capitalization.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 3.2

The command tooltip should describe the result of the command, not the current state of the command. Use the text same as that for the command label.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 3.3

Adopt the labeling terminology of the workbench for New, Delete and Add commands.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 3.4

An command should only be enabled if it can be completed successfully.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 3.5

Command enablement should be quick. If command enablement cannot be quick, enable the command optimistically and display an appropriate message if the command is invoked, but cannot be completed.

Dialogs

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 4.1

When a dialog opens, set the initial focus to the first input control in the container. If there are no input controls, the initial focus should be assigned to the default button.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 4.2

Slush Bucket widget (or Twin Box) should flow from left to right with the source objects on the left hand side. It should have the >, <, >>, << control buttons in this order.

Wizards

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.1

Use a wizard for any task consisting of many steps, which must be completed in a specific order.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.2

Each wizard must contain a header with a banner graphic and a text area for user feedback. It must also contain Back, Next, Finish, and Cancel buttons in the footer.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.3

Start the wizard with a prompt, not an error message.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.4

Seed the fields within the wizard using the current workbench state.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.5

Validate the wizard data in tab order. Display a prompt when information is absent, and an error when information is invalid.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.6

Only enable the Next / Finish buttons if all required information in the dialog is present and valid.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.7

Remove all programming message ID's from wizard text.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.8

Use a Browse Button whenever an existing object is referenced in a wizard.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.9

If a new file is created, open the file in an editor. If a group of files are created, open the most important, or central file in an editor. Open the readme.html file upon creation of an example project.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.10

If a new project is created, prompt users and change the active perspective to suit the project type.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.11

If a new object is created, select and reveal the new object in the appropriate view.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.12

Create folder objects in a wizard if reasonable defaults can be defined.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 5.13

Use the term "Project name" for the input field label when the item must be a Project; otherwise, use the term "Folder name". Do not qualify the term.

Editors

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.1

Use an editor to edit or browse a file, document, or other primary content.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.2

Modifications made in an editor must follow an open-save-close lifecycle model.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.3

Only one instance of an editor may exist, for each editor input, within a perspective.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.4

It must be possible to open a separate instance of an editor for each different input.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.5

The editor should be labeled with the name of the file, document, or input being edited.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.6

In multipage editors, use a tab control for page activation.Tab labels should be kept to one word, and two words at most.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.7

All of the commands, except for the obvious commands, available in the editor should be added to the window menu bar.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.8

Use the standard format for editor contributions in the window menu bar.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.9

If an editor has support for Cut, Copy, Paste, or any of the global commands, these commands must be executable from the same commands in the window menu bar and toolbar.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.10

Fill the editor toolbar with the most commonly used items in the view menu.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.11

Fill the context menu with selection oriented commands.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.12

Use the standard format for editor context menus.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.13

Fill the context menu with a fixed set of commands for each selection type, and then enable or disable each to reflect the selection state.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.14

Register all context menus in the editor with the platform.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.15

Implement an Command Filter for each object type in the editor.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.16

If the input to an editor is deleted, and the editor contains no changes, the editor should be closed.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.17

If the input to an editor is deleted, and the editor contains changes, the editor should give the user a chance to save their changes to another location, and then close.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.18

If the resource is dirty, prefix the resource name presented in the editor tab with an asterisk.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.19

Treat read-only editor input as you would any other input. Enable the Save As if possible. Display "Read-only" in the status bar area.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.20

If the data within an editor is too extensive to see on a single screen, and will yield a structured outline, the editor should provide an outline model to the Outline view.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.21

Notification about location between an editor and the Outline view should be two-way. A context menu should be available in the Outline view as appropriate.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.22

An error or warning image should be added to items with the error or warning respectively. A container should have a red X if it there are errors on the container itself, a gray X if any of its descendents have errors (but not the container itself), and no X if neither the container nor any of its descendents have errors.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.23

If appropriate, implement the "Add Task" feature in your editor.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.24

If appropriate, implement the "Add Bookmark" feature in your editor.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.25

Editors with source lines of text should show the current line and optionally column numbers the status line. It's optional for the editor to show line numbers for each line in the editor itself.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.26

Table cell editors should support the single-click activation model, and in edit mode, they should render complex controls upon single-click.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.27

Changes made in a table cell editor should be committed when a user clicks off the cell or hits the "Enter" key. Selection should be cancelled when user hits the "Esc" key.First letter navigation should be supported as a cursoring mechanism within a cell.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.28

When performing fine-grain error validation in an editor, use red squiggles to underline the invalid content. When users move the mouse over the red squiggles, display the error text in a fly-over pop up box.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.29

Use the Task view to show errors found when the Save command is invoked.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 6.30

If modifications to a resource are made outside of the workbench, users should be prompted to either override the changes made outside of the workbench, or back out of the Save operation when the Save command is invoked in the editor.

Views

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.1

Use a view to navigate a hierarchy of information, open an editor, or display the properties of an object.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.2

Modifications made within a view must be saved immediately.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.3

Only one instance of a view may exist in a perspective.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.4

A view must be able to be opened in more than one perspective.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.5

A view can be opened from the Window > Show View menu.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.6

The view label in the title bar must be prefixed with the label of the view in the Perspective > Show View menu.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.7

If a view contains more than one control, it may be advisable to split it up into two or more views.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.8

When a view first opens, derive the view input from the state of the perspective.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.9

If a view displays a resource tree, consider using the window input as the root of visible information in the view.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.10

Use the view pulldonw menu for presentation commands, not selection-oriented commands.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.11

Use the standard order of commands for view pulldown menus.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.12

Put only the most commonly used commands on the toolbar. Any command on a toolbar must also appear in a menu, either the context menu or the view menu.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.13

Fill the context menu with selection oriented actions, not presentation actions.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.14

Use the standard order of commands for view context menus.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.15

Fill the context menu with a fixed set of commands for each selection type, and then enable or disable each to reflect the selection state.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.16

If an object appears in more than one view, it should have the same context menu in each.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.17

Register all context menus in the view with the platform.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.18

Implement an Command Filter for each object type in the view.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.19

If a view has support for Cut, Copy, Paste, or any of the global commands, these commands must be executable from the same commands in the window menu bar and toolbar.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.20

Persist the state of each view between sessions.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 7.21

Navigation views should support "Link with Editor" on the view menu

Perspectives

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.1

Create a new perspective type for long lived tasks, which involve the performance of smaller, non-modal tasks.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.2

If you just want to expose a single view, or two, extend an existing perspective type.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.3

The size and position of each view in a perspective should be defined in a reasonable manner, such that the user can resize or move a view if they desire it. When defining the initial layout, it is important to consider the overall flow between the views (and editors) in the perspective.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.4

If a perspective has just one part, it may be better suited as a view or editor.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.5

If it is undesirable to have an editor area in a perspective, hide it. Do not resize the editor area to the point where it is no longer visible.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.6

Populate the window menu bar with commands and command sets which are appropriate to the task orientation of the perspective, and any larger workflow.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.7

A new perspective should be opened only if the user explicitly states a desire to do so. In making this statement, the user agrees to leave their old context, and create a new one.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.8

If a new perspective is opened as a side effect of another command, the user should be able to turn this behavior off.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.9

If a new perspective is opened, it should be opened within the current window, or in a new window, depending on the user preference.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 8.10

The list of shortcuts added to the New, Open Perspective, and Show View menus should be at most 7 plus / minus 2 items.

Windows

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.1

Use an Action Set to contribute actions to the window menu bar and toolbar.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.2

Follow the platform lead when distributing actions within an Action Set.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.3

Contribute actions to the window menu bar first, and then to the window toolbar if they will be frequently used.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.4

Define each action set with a specific task in mind.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.5

An action set should contain the smallest possible semantic chunking of actions. Avoid the temptation to provide only one action set for an entire plug-in.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.6

Use an action set to share a set of actions which are useful in two or more views or editors.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.7

Let the user control the visible action sets. Don't try to control it for them.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.8

"Open Object" actions must appear in the Navigate pulldown menu of the window.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 9.9

Always use the global status bar to display status related messages.

Properties

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 10.1

Use the Properties view to edit the properties of an object when quick access is important, and you will switch quickly from object to object.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 10.2

Use a Properties Dialog to edit the properties of an object which are expensive to calculate.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 10.3

Use a Properties Dialog to edit the properties of an object which contain complex relationships to one another.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 10.4

Properties Dialog should contain the superset of items shown in the Properties view.

Widgets

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 11.1

For Tree and Table widgets that have a checkbox associated with a cell item, changing the current selection should not automatically change the check state of the selected item. However, the current selection should be set to a given item when its check state is changed.


Standard Components

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 12.1

If appropriate, add actions to standard components of Eclipse using the plug-in registry.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 12.2

If you subclass or copy any of the standard components, always carry over the standard components' characteristics.

The Navigator View

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 13.1

Add actions to the Navigator View menu, toolbar, and context menu using the plug-in registry.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 13.2

Use the attributes defined in IResourceActionFilter.java and IProjectActionFilter.java to control the visibility of context menu actions in the Navigator.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 13.3

Use a "Navigate -> Show In Navigator" command in each view, to link resources back to the Navigator.

The Tasks View

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 14.1

Add markers (tasks, errors and warnings) to the Tasks view using the Marker Manager services from the Core Resources Management plugin.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 14.2

The description text of each marker should be short and concise, so that it will fit in the status line of Eclipse.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 14.3

Add actions to the Tasks view menu, toolbar, and context menu using the plug-in registry.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 14.4

Use the attributes defined in IMarkerActionFilter.java to control the visibility of context menu actions in the Tasks view.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 14.5

Support F1 keyboard command and link it to an infopop that gives a detailed description of the selected item in the Task view.

The Preference Dialog

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 15.1

Global options should be exposed within the Preferences Dialog.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 15.2

Expose the preferences for a particular view, editor or window in the view itself, via a menu or tool item.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 15.3

Start out with a single preference page. Then evolve to more if you need to.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 15.4

If you create a preference group, use the root page for frequently used preferences, or those preferences which have wide spread effect. Specialize within the sub pages. The root preference page should not be blank.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 15.5

Attempt to integrate plug-in preferences, wizards, and views into existing categories for a new plug-in first, before considering the creation of a new category.


Flat Look Design

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 16.1

Use Flat Look design for user scenarios that involves extensive property and configuration editing.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 16.2

Have the core sections on the overview page expanded, and provide a "Home" icon on other pages to take users back to the overview page.

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 16.3

Use grouping elements corresponding to tabs in the Flat Look content editor for the organization of the tree view in outline view.


The Tao of Resource

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 17.1

Expose the resource for resource equivalent model objects using an IContributorResourceAdapter.


Accessibility

GuidelineCheckbox.gif Guideline 18.1

All of the features provided by a tool should be accessible using a mouse or the keyboard.



Glossary

Command
A command, which is invoked by a user to carry out some specific functions, may appear as an item in a menu, or an item in a toolbar. In reflection of this, it has attributes for the menu or tool item label, tooltip, and image. As a plug-in developer, you can contribute commands to the window menu bar and toolbar, or to individual views and editors. Contribution to the window is performed using an action set, a set of task oriented commands which the user can show or hide. Contribution to a view or editor is performed using individual command.
Bookmarks View
A view used to browse the bookmarks in the workbench.
Editor
An editor is a visual component within a workbench page. It is typically used to edit or browse a document or input object. The input is identified using an IEditorInput. Modifications made in an editor part follow an open-save-close lifecycle model (in contrast to a view part, where modifications are saved to the workbench immediately).
File
An object in the workspace, analogous to files in the file system.
Folder
A container for files in the workspace.
Navigator View
A view used to browse the files in the workspace
Outline View
A view, commonly used to view the outline of the active editor.
Perspective
A perspective is a visual container for a set of views and editors (parts). These parts exist wholly within the perspective and are not shared. A perspective is also like a page within a book. It exists within a window along with any number of other perspectives and, like a page within a book, only one perspective is visible at any time.
Platform
A generic framework for the integration of tools.
Preferences
A Preference Page is used to edit the preferences for a feature in the platform.
Project
A group of files and folders within the workspace. Each project maps to a corresponding user specified directory in the file system.
Properties View
A view, typically used to browse the properties for an object in the active editor or view.
Properties Dialog
A dialog for editing the properties of an object.
Property Page
A page within a Properties Dialog.
Resource
The generic name for projects, folders and files.
Tasks View
A view used to browse the tasks, errors, and warnings within the workspace.
View
A view is a visual component within a workbench page. It is typically used to navigate a hierarchy of information (like the workspace), open an editor, or display properties for the active editor. Modifications made in a view are saved immediately (in contrast to an editor part, which conforms to a more elaborate open-save-close lifecycle).
Wizard
A Wizard is typically used to create new resources, import resources, or export resources.
Workbench
The Workbench provides the user interface structure for Eclipse. The purpose of the Workbench is to facilitate the seamless integration of tools. These tools contribute to extension points defined by the Workbench. The Workbench is responsible for the presentation and coordination of the user interface.
Workspace
The various tools plugged in to the Eclipse Platform operate on regular files in the user's workspace. The workspace consists of one or more top level projects, where each project maps to a corresponding user specified directory in the file system. Each project contains a collection of folders and files.


Acknowledgement

Screenshots contributed to Eclipse.org and used in this document, originate from plugins released or under development by the following teams:

  • Java Development Tooling, Eclipse Subproject
  • WebSphere® Studio Application Developer, IBM Corporation
  • Rational XDE Professional, IBM Corporation.

By agreeing to share selected elements of their user interface designs (both positive and negative), we feel that these teams have helped make the UI guidelines stronger.

Revision History

This covers the more significant changes to the guidelines since Version 1.0:

Added

General UI Principles : "Decorators" subsection
"Visual Design" section covers consistency, design and implementation issues for UI graphics
Component Development : "Widgets" subsection describes some of the recommended designs for Standard Windows Toolkit (SWT) widgets
"Flat Look Design" section for user scenarios that involve extensive property and configuration editing
"Best Practices" section provides examples of best practices for designing and implementing some common user interactions

Removed

Component Development : Perspectives : Opening a perspective in code - Guideline "Consider replacing the perspective type before you open a new perspective" has been removed
Component Development : Windows : Actions - "Open Application" has been removed

Modified

Anything referred to as an "action" in Version 1.0 of the guidelines has been changed to "command" in Version 2.1 of the guidelines
The full guideline document has been reformatted and the graphical presentation has been updated






Version 2.1 February 2004

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