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Configuring Eclipse IDE for PHP development - Understanding the interface

From Joomla! Documentation

Understanding the interface

Eclipse IDE is not just a editor it is a platform and can be used to many thing, that is why it implement a very flexible philosophy to denominate and describe the way it display and organize the information, the most relevant parts of eclipse interface are:

  • The tool bar: Is at the top of the window just like any other common application
  • The tool bar with buttons: Is right under neat the toolbar it contains a bunch of buttons most of them change according the current context, view or perspective, you can drag and drop that some of it buttons to arrange them the way you want
  • The views: They are sections that divide the windows content and display different kind of information, you can arrange the views in almost any possible way, ex: columns, rows, complex combinations of columns and rows and so forth
  • The perspectives: The perspectives are just a setup of views arranged in certain configuration and normally sharing a relationship between them

Is important to understand how this perspective philosophy works, for example The "PHP perspective" is used to edit PHP code so is coherent to display views related to the PHP code edition, views to manage the project files and views to navigate trough the code, the following is a typical "PHP perspective":

  • Docked at the left with several tabs are the "PHP explorer" view and the "Type Hierarchy explorer" view
  • In the middle is a wide view which is the "editor area", there will be as many tabs as many files you are editing
  • Docked at the right with several tabs are the "Search" view and the "outline" view, they will assist you to find chuck of code or navigate trough the parts, variables and object of your current file under edition.
  • Docked at the bottom are with several tabs are the "Problems" view,"Task" view, "Console" view and "Progress" view there you will see things like unsolved problems like syntax errors, uncompleted TODO tasks, and see the progress of build or update operations

In the other hand the "Debug Perspective" share some views with the "PHP perspective" but have a different arrangement of views and got more different views related to the code debugging operations such as:

  • Debug view: Display the call stack of the current breakpoint
  • servers view: Display a list of the configured server to debug with
  • Variables view: This view shows a tree that is basically is a complete dump of all the variables and object of the current session at the current breakpoint
  • Breakpoints view: Display a list of all the breakpoints set all over your project, you can double click on one of the item of that list to jump in that exact line of code
  • Expressions views: There you can create expressions on the fly to evaluate them without the need of do code modifications

You can switch betweend perspectives selecting them at "Tool bar --> window --> Open perspective" or you can click in the perspective buttons located at the far right of the "The tool bar with buttons"

If you don't feel happy with any of this perspective configurations and how their views are arranged, you can create your very own perspectives and add as much views as you want and arrange them the way that makes you feel good, you just got to:

  • Modify the current perspective (any it doesn't matter)
  • Add thew views you want and remove the others you don't
  • Arrange the views the way you like and make you feel comfortable
  • Go to "Tool bar --> window --> Save perspective as" and set a name for your custom perspective, ex: "pimp-My-IDE" and save it, you can also overwrite an existing view name

So far you should be able to know how to play with Eclipse IDE and understand it interface philosophy, if you want to see a video demonstration about Eclipse IDE to get a preview and taste some of it powers check this out Webinar: Using Eclipse for Joomla! Development