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E4/CSS/Visual Design

< E4‎ | CSS

This page summarizes the visual design work done for the Eclipse 4.0 Early Adopter Release. This is now a historical document. For information on the current progress on the visual design, please see Eclipse4/SDK Visual Design.

Eclipse 4.0 SDK Visual Design


  • design a modern visual style for e4 that is clearly different than the 3.x design
  • reduce visual clutter, more focus on the data, less on the container elements
  • investigate design lessons learned from publishing and web (whitespace, etc.)
  • drive the ability/flexibility of the CSS styling for SWT widgets
  • identify the major interaction design issues (workbench model) that might block visual design

Current mockup

All mockups are posted in Bug 293481, please cc: on this bug if you want to be alerted of new mockups. The blocking bugs listed there itemize where the current implementation deviates from the mockup and what work is planned for 1.0.

  • Current iteration
    • tightens up gradient on toolbar
    • gradient for selected stack is more similar to toolbar gradient
    • background color for window is derived from menu bar colors, with gradients playing off that base

E4vis mockup 1.png


  • the default design will still honor platform themes with respect to colors and fonts
    • end users still control common fonts and colors through Eclipse preferences and platform theme settings
    • we continue to respect high contrast themes (accessibility)
    • end users may completely reskin the SDK using CSS but should not have to do so for existing preferences
  • the design will focus on space, colors, and gradients to help reduce the visual noise
    • tab colors and backgrounds, view backgrounds, reduction of borders
    • investigate overlays to fade non-focus areas
  • initial design focuses on static visual design
    • investigate role of animation later


  • default CSS styling for the Eclipse 4.0 workbench
  • demonstrate ability to retain the "classic" look
  • process for obtaining alternate styles and polling/vote to determine which will ship with SDK

Milestone plan

  • M7/RC0 (6/18/2010)
    • Focus on polish, getting closer to mockups. Blocking bugs on Bug 293481 describe specific work.
    • Finalize story of user-management of themes
  • M6 (5/21/2010)
    • Implementation work toward mockups
  • M5 (4/9/2010)
    • Most major design concepts implemented
  • M4 (2/26/2010)
    • First prototype of new styling
      • Shows direction of new look, not everything is stylable
      • Post new mockups to compare implementation with intended direction
  • EclipseCon (3/22/2010)
    • "new look" available to demo apps / some stylability of new look
  • M2 - M3 (Oct-Dec 2009)
    • Design project kick-off
    • Investigate/define implementation constraints
    • Prioritize visual design areas
    • Visual design explorations
      • Linda - multiple design explorations with limited constraints
      • Susan - solicit team response/consensus on alternatives
      • Choose a direction by end of year? via bug reports, e4 meetings

Visual Design Items

The following table tracks visual design elements that have been considered and any constraints that the implementation imposes on the design. Note that the priority listed in the table is related to its impact on the overall visual design. High priority items must have their constraints defined first, while lower priority items can be defined later in the design process without affecting the overall design approach.

Design element Requirement Implementation constraints Priority Status
View stack bar (ie, tab background) Stylized tab/view stack bar Custom colors, consider gradients High Ok green.gif
Tabs Custom highlight colors and gradients Still working out what needs to be in platform-specific CSS vs. having a general "platform hue honoring" strategy. Bug 296175 High Progress.gif
Tabs Specify custom fonts/bolding for normal/selection None High Ok green.gif
Tabs Ability to remove keylines or specify their shape and color color independently for different states None High Progress.gif implemented in e4 renderer, need to define/expose styling capability
View and editor stacks Visual separation of view stacks without using keylines (drop shadowing?). Rendered by new CTabFolder High Ok green.gif implementation complete, may need to expose some styling control
Toolbar Specify transparency, customizable background, or shadowing to transition between platform themed elements and Eclipse content Current assumption: might be limited by platform, can this be rendered efficiently High Ok green.gif some refinement of gradient still tbd
Deemphasize non-active views Static reduction of emphasis or programmatic fades? Visual design complete - focusing on static changes High Ok green.gif Still working implementation details of hover, fonts
Animation/feedback for view stack manipulation Visuals for stack manipulation are old/outdated. Can we animate or at least modernize? Do we need new cursor icons? Medium Progress.gif Implementation of full drag in e4 M4, consider refinements and updated icons for cursor
Perspective Switcher Look and feel of switcher in e4, location of switcher Medium Ok green.gif Needs right alignment. See Bug 313775
Shared search bar Define behavior, then location. Platform trim supported on Win7, Mac. Need to position it for XP, GTK Medium Progress.gif Ongoing discussion in Bug 304440
View and editor toolbars Consistent location of view and editor toolbars. Consider a local editor toolbar. Consider a static position for view toolbar (always below?). Location of min max controls Probably need user control over this. Not everyone wants to give up the real estate to a view toolbar. Medium Error.gif Not for 1.0 Bug 292792
Multi page editor tab styling Tab styling for multi-page editors appearing at bottom of e4 editor stack Rendering should be simpler than main tab case. Medium Ok green.gif Complete
Widget borders reducing key lines within tab content, etc. requires changes to client code so we can't assume it would happen Low Error.gif Not for 1.0, no changes to 3.6 parts specific to 4.0 look
Workbench background Specify an image as the background for the workbench  ? Low Error.gif Not for 1.0
Menubar Specify transparency or customizable background Current assumption: limited by platform Low Error.gif Not for 1.0
Decorations Don't show decorators for 90% case would need new graphics for "exception case" Low Error.gif Not for 1.0
UI Forms Are there additional requirements for styling ui forms components? Apps desiring styling control over forms should be encouraged to use web UI technology to achieve this. There will be no more effort applied to styling ui forms. Low Ok green.gif No work to be done

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