Using the code formatter

The JDT API allows other plug-ins to use the default code formatter to format source code. The two methods to consider are:

Note: The CodeFormatter class is not intended to be subclassed by clients.

Getting a code formatter instance

The factory methods on ToolFactory can be invoked to create a new instance of the default code formatter. Before invoking one of those, you need to define a map that contains the code formatter options. In order to create such a map, you can use the methods defined in the class DefaultCodeFormatterConstants like DefaultCodeFormatterConstants.getEclipseDefaultSettings()

NOTE: These predefined maps contain only the code formatter specific options. In order to invoke the code formatter, you also need to specify what kind of source the code formatter will format. In order to do so, specify the three options:

The possible values of these options are given by the constants:

If you want to modify the default maps, it is recommended that you use the methods defined on DefaultCodeFormatterConstants to create the values of the corresponding options. This is especially true for the options relative to code wrapping.

Invoking the code formatter

Use the newly created code formatter to format code snippets. The default code formatter allows you to format different kind of code snippets.
These kinds are specified in the documentation of the format method. The returned value of this method is a text edit. This text edit then needs to be applied to an IDocument instance in order to get the formatted result.


	// take default Eclipse formatting options
	Map options = DefaultCodeFormatterConstants.getEclipseDefaultSettings();

	// initialize the compiler settings to be able to format 1.5 code
	options.put(JavaCore.COMPILER_COMPLIANCE, JavaCore.VERSION_1_5);
	options.put(JavaCore.COMPILER_SOURCE, JavaCore.VERSION_1_5);

	// change the option to wrap each enum constant on a new line

	// instantiate the default code formatter with the given options
	final CodeFormatter codeFormatter = ToolFactory.createCodeFormatter(options);

	// retrieve the source to format
	String source = null;
	try {
		source = ...; // retrieve the source 
	} catch (IOException e) {
		System.err.println("Could not retrieve the source"); //$NON-NLS-1$
	final TextEdit edit = codeFormatter.format(
		CodeFormatter.K_COMPILATION_UNIT, // format a compilation unit
		source, // source to format
		0, // starting position
		source.length(), // length
		0, // initial indentation
		System.getProperty("line.separator") // line separator

	IDocument document = new Document(source);
	try {
	} catch (MalformedTreeException e) {
	} catch (BadLocationException e) {

	// display the formatted string on the System out

On this example,

public enum X { A,B,C,D,E,F}

the result would be:

public enum X {

Formatting a set of regions

The default code formatter allows to format a set of regions of a given source file.
This can be achieved by calling the format(int, String, IRegion[], int, String) method of the code formatter, with a given source kind and an array of regions.

Comment Formatter API

The default code formatter API offers the possibility to format comments during the processing of the code snippet.
This can be achieved by combining the appropriate flag F_INCLUDE_COMMENTS with K_COMPILATION_UNIT and K_UNKNOWN flags.

This flag is effective only if the corresponding formatting option was enabled when calling format(int, String, int, int, int, String) or format(int, String, IRegion[], int, String) methods:

Comment formatter options

Various formatting options are available in order to format comments:

For detailed information about these settings, refer to the DefaultCodeFormatterConstants

Formatting comments with the stand-alone formatter

The default code formatter can be used to format comments (javadoc, multi or single line). In this case, the source passed to the format method should only contain a specific kind of comments, and corresponding kind K_JAVA_DOC, K_MULTI_LINE_COMMENT or K_SINGLE_LINE_COMMENT should be used.