Tips and Tricks (JDT)

The following tips and tricks give some helpful ideas for increasing your productivity. See also Platform Tips and Tricks for general Eclipse tips and What's New (JDT) for features in this release.

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Editing source

Content assist Content assist provides you with a list of suggested completions for partially entered strings. In the Java editor press Ctrl+Space or use Edit > Content Assist.

Content assist selection dialog

Content assist in Javadoc comments Content assist is also available in Javadoc comments.

Content assist for Javadoc comments

Content assist for static imports To get content assist proposals for static members configure your list of favorite static members on the Opens the Favorites preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist > Favorites preference page.

For example, if you have added java.util.Arrays.* to this list, then all static methods of this type matching the completion prefix will be added to the proposals list:

Content Assist proposals

Suppress types in content assist To exclude certain types from appearing in content assist, use the type filter feature configured on the Opens the type filter preference page Java > Appearance > Type Filters preference page. Types matching one of these filter patterns will not appear in the Open Type dialog and will not be available to content assist, quick fix and organize imports. These filter patterns do not affect the Package Explorer and Type Hierarchy views.

Type filter preference page

Content assist for variable, method parameter and field name completions You can use content assist to speed up the creation of fields, method parameters and local variables. With the cursor positioned after the type name of the declaration, press Ctrl+Space or use Edit > Content Assist.

Suggestions for field names

If you use a name prefix or suffix for fields, local variables or method parameters, be sure to specify this in the Opens the code style preference page Java > Code Style preference page.

Content assist for variable with unresolved type Code assist also works on accesses to types that are not imported yet. Depending on the Opens the Content Assist preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist > Add import instead of qualified name preference the editor will either automatically add imports or fully qualify the types for such proposals.

Pressing ; in the following scenario:

Screenshot showing Content Assist for variables with unresolved types

results in:

Screenshot showing the content assist result when pressing ';'

Content assist after instanceof condition Content assist can propose members available on types used in instanceof conditions.

Screenshot showing Content Assist after instanceof condition

Eclipse will add the required cast for you when you select such a proposal.

Parameter hints With the cursor in a method argument, you can see a list of parameter hints. In the Java Editor press Ctrl+Shift+Space or invoke Edit > Content Assist > Parameter Hints.

Parameter hint hover

Content assist on anonymous classes Content assist also provides help when creating an anonymous class. With the cursor positioned after "new " and the beginning of an abstract class or interface name press Ctrl+Space or invoke Edit > Content Assist > Default.

Content assist for an anonymous class

This will create the body of the anonymous inner class including all methods that need to be implemented.

This also works if you place the caret after the opening parentheses of a class instance creation:

Content assist for an anonymous class

Toggle between inserting and replacing content assist When content assist is invoked on an existing identifier, it can either replace the identifier with the chosen completion or do an insert. The default behavior (overwrite or insert) is defined in the Opens the content assist preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist preference page.
You can temporarily toggle the behavior while inside the content assist selection dialog by pressing and holding the Ctrl key while selecting the completion.
Incremental content assist Content assist can also Insert common prefixes automatically, similar to Unix shell expansion. To enable that behavior, select the check box on the Opens the content assist preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist preference page.
Camel case support in code completion Code completion supports camel case patterns. For example, completing on NPE or NuPoiE will propose NullPointerException. This support can be disabled using the Show camel case matches preference on the Opens the Content Assist preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist preference page.

Java editor completing on NPE

Subword code completion Content assist supports substring patterns by default. Enter any part of the desired proposal's text, and Content Assist will find it! For example, completing on selection proposes all results containing selection as a substring.

Popup with proposals like addSelectionListener(..), getSelection(), etc.

This feature can be disabled using the VM property: -Djdt.codeCompleteSubstringMatch=false.

Subword patterns are also supported. For example, completing on addmouselistener proposes results like addMouseMoveListener and addMouseWheelListener:

Popup with subword content assist proposals

This feature can be disabled using the Show subword matches option on the Opens the Content Assist preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist preference page.

Use ';' key to insert method invocation You can use the semicolon (;) key to select any method invocation proposal from the content assist popup. The ';' will be appended at the end of the method invocation.
Customize content assist categories Repeatedly invoking content assist (Ctrl+Space) cycles through different proposal categories.

Content assist with new method template proposals

To configure which categories to show use the Opens the content assist preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist > Advanced preference page.

You can also assign separate key shortcuts to your favorite proposal categories.

Create getters and setters To create getter and setter methods for a field, select the field's declaration and invoke Source > Generate Getter and Setter.

Generate Getter and Setter dialog

If you use a name prefix or suffix be sure to specify this in the Opens the code style preference page Java > Code Style preference page.
Create getters and setters quick assist A quick assist (Ctrl+1) is available on fields to create getters and setters.

Screen shot showing the create getters and setters quick assist

Use content assist to create getter and setters Another way to create getters and setters is using content assist. Set the cursor in the type body between members and press Ctrl+Space to get the proposals that create a getter or setter method stub.
Content assist for creating a setter
Delete getters and setters together with a field When you delete a field from within a view, Eclipse can propose deleting its Getter and Setter methods. If you use a name prefix or suffix for fields, be sure to specify this in the Opens the code style preference page Java > Code Style preference page.
Create delegate methods To create a delegate method for a field select the field's declaration and invoke Source > Generate Delegate Methods. This adds the selected methods to the type that contains a forward call to delegated methods. This is an example of a delegate method:
Delegate method example
Create hashCode() and equals() To create the methods hashCode() and equals() invoke Source > Generate hashCode() and equals().

Generate hashCode() and equals() dialog

Use templates to create a method Templates are shown together with the Content Assist (Ctrl+Space) proposals.
There are existing templates, such as 'private_method', 'public_method', 'protected_method' and more, but you can also define new templates for method stubs.

After applying a template, use the Tab key to navigate among the values to enter (return type, name and arguments).
Content assist with new method template proposals

Use templates to create SWT widgets On projects which have the SWT library on the classpath, you can create SWT widgets with Content Assist (Ctrl+Space)

To add, for example, an SWT button, type Button and press Ctrl+Space, select the Button SWT template, and press Enter.

Create a button with the Button template

To see all available templates go to the Opens the Templates preference page Java > Editor > Templates preference page or open the Templates view through Window > Show View > Other....

Java Postfix Templates Postfix completion allows certain kinds of language constructs to be applied to the previously entered text. For example, entering "input text".var and selecting the var - Creates a new variable postfix template will result in String name = "input text".

Java Postfix Templates

Create your own templates To create your own templates, go to the Opens the editor templates preference page Java > Editor > Templates preference page and press the New button to create a template. For example, a template to iterate backwards in an array would look like this:

Template for an iterator

Use Quick Fix to create a new method Start with the method invocation and use Quick Fix (Ctrl+1) to create the method.

'Create method' quick fix

Use Quick Fix to change a method signature Add an argument to a method invocation at a call site. Then use Quick Fix (Ctrl+1) to add the required parameter in the method declaration.

'Change signature' quick fix

Use content assist to create a constructor stub At the location where you want to add the new constructor, use content assist after typing the first letters of the constructor name.
Create constructor with content assist
Create new fields from parameters Do you need to create new fields to store the arguments passed in the constructor or method? Use Quick Assist (Ctrl+1) on a parameter to create the assignment and the field declaration and let Eclipse propose a name according to your Code Style preferences.
'Assign parameter to new field' quick assist
Use content assist to override a method Invoke Content Assist (Ctrl+Space) in the type body at the location where the method should be added. Content assist will offer all methods that can be overridden. A method body for the chosen method will be created.

'Override method' content assist

Use Quick Fix to add unimplemented methods To implement a new interface, add the 'implements' declaration first to the type. Even without saving or building, the Java editor will underline the type to signal that methods are missing and will show the Quick Fix light bulb. Click on the light bulb or press Ctrl+1 (Edit > Quick Fix) to choose between adding the unimplemented methods or making your class abstract.

Quick Fix offering 'Add unimplemented methods' proposal

Use Clean Up to add unimplemented methods When you add a new method to an interface or an abstract method to an abstract class, Eclipse can generate method stubs in all concrete subclasses at once. Invoke Source > Clean Up... on a set of Java elements, use a custom profile, and select on the Configure... dialog to Add unimplemented methods on the Missing Code tab.
Override a method from a base class To create a method that overrides a method from a base class:
Select the type where the methods should be added and invoke Source > Override/Implement Methods. This opens a dialog that lets you choose which methods to override.

'Override/Implement method' dialog

Quick fix to convert to static import A new quick fix has been implemented that allows the user to convert static field accesses and static methods to use a static import. It's also possible to replace all occurrences at the same time.

Rename in fileTo quickly do a rename that doesn't require full analysis of dependencies in other files, use the 'Rename in file' Quick Assist. In the Java Editor, position the cursor in an identifier of a variable, method or type and press Ctrl+1 (Edit > Quick Fix)
The editor is switched to the linked edit mode (like templates) and changing the identifier simultaneously changes all other references to that variable, method or type.

Changing multiple identifiers using 'Local Rename' quick fix

You can also use the direct shortcut Ctrl+2 R. Use the Opens keys preference page General > Keys preference page to configure shortcuts (in the 'Source' category).
Rename in workspace The Refactor > Rename (Alt+Shift+R) popup has an Options... link which opens the full Rename dialog that provides more options like renaming a field's getter and setter methods.

The dialog can also be opened via the menu button in the popup or by pressing Alt+Shift+R again. The in-place mode can be disabled entirely via the Rename in editor without dialog option on the Opens the Java preference page Java preference page.
Use Quick Fix to handle exceptions Dealing with thrown exceptions is easy. Unhandled exceptions are detected while typing and marked with a red line in the editor.
  • Click on the light bulb or press Ctrl+1 to surround the call with a try catch block. If you want to include more statements in the try block, select the statements and use Source > Surround With > Try/catch Block. You can also select individual statements by using Edit > Expand Selection To and selecting Enclosing, Next or Previous.
  • If the call is already surrounded with a try block, Quick Fix will suggest adding the catch block to the existing block.
  • If you don't want to handle the exception, let Quick Fix add a new thrown exception to the enclosing method declaration

'Uncaught exception' quick fix proposals

At any time, you can convert a catch block to a thrown exception. Use Ctrl+1 (Edit > Quick Fix) on a catch block.

'Replace catch clause with throws' quick assist

Less typing for assignments Instead of typing an assignment, start with the expression that will be assigned.

'Assign statement to local variable' quick assist

Now use Ctrl+1 (Edit > Quick Fix) and choose 'Assign statement to new local variable' and Quick Assist will guess a variable name for you.
Quick Assist Assignment
Less work with cast expressions Don't spend too much time with typing casts. Ignore them first and use quick assist to add them after finishing the statement.

For example on assignments:
Add cast in assignment
Or for method arguments:
Add cast for method arguments
Or for method call targets:
Add cast in method call targets

Assign a cast expression
After an 'instanceof' check, it is very common to cast the expression and assign it to a new local variable. Invoke Quick Assist (Ctrl+1) on the 'instanceof' keyword or at the beginning of the block body to save yourself some typing:
'Introduce new local with casted type' quick fix
Surround lines To surround statements with an if / while / for statement or a block, select the lines to surround and invoke Source > Surround With or press Alt+Shift+Z.

'Surround with templates' quick assist

The entries in the menu are derived from the normal editor templates: All templates that contain the variable ${line_selection} will show up in the menu.

Templates can be configured on the Opens the editor templates preference page Java > Editor > Templates preference page. Edit the corresponding templates to customize the resulting code or define your own surround-with templates.
Create 'for' loops A set of Quick Assists (Ctrl+1) can create for loops that iterate over a given expression.

For arrays:

  • Create an enhanced for loop
  • Create a for loop using an index

For Collections:
  • Create an enhanced for loop
  • Create a for loop using an Iterator
For Lists:
  • Create a for loop using an index and get(i)

Migrate anonymous class creations to lambda expressions and back You can convert anonymous class creations to lambda expressions (and back) by invoking the Quick Assists (Ctrl+1):
  • Convert to lambda expression
  • Convert to anonymous class creation


anonymous class with a 1-line method body

After the Quick Assist (Ctrl+1), the 6 lines are condensed into 1:

lambda expression -- everything on 1 line

Or invoke Source > Clean Up..., use a custom profile, and on the Configure... dialog select Convert functional interface instances and Use lambda where possible on the Code Style tab.

The Clean Up will not convert a functional anonymous class to lambda if the method has declaration annotations (other than @Override and @Deprecated). You can still use the quick assist to do the conversion in such cases.

Migrate lambda expressions to method references and back You can convert lambda expressions to method references (and back) by invoking the Quick Assists (Ctrl+1):
  • Convert to method reference

    t -> Integer.toHexString(t)

  • Convert to lambda expression


Create file An existing non-modular Java project can be quickly converted to a module by creating a file for that project. This feature can be availed once the project has been moved to compliance 9 or above:

Configure > Create

You can also paste a snippet of code representing directly into a source folder to create the file.

Enable preview features You can quickly enable the preview features on an applicable Java project by right-clicking on it and selecting Configure > Enable preview features:

Configure > Enable preview features

You can also change the default severity (warning) of the preview features compile problem in the opened Project properties dialog.

More Quick Assists and Fixes
Check out the Quick Assist page for a complete list of available code transformations. A list of quick fixes can be found here.
Shortcuts for Quick Fixes and Assists
Some of the popular quick assists like Rename in file and Assign to local variable can be invoked directly with Ctrl+2 R and Ctrl+2 L. Check the Opens keys preference page General > Keys preference page for more quick fixes and quick assists that support direct invocation.

Type "Quick Assist" or "Quick Fix" in the filter field:

Keys preference page with quick assist shortcuts

Annotate command You can invoke Annotate command - either by using the context menu, or by pressing Ctrl+1 - when browsing attached source code of a library using the class file editor to annotate any type in the signature of a library method or field. Proposals will be offered for marking the selected type as @NonNull or @Nullable. After selecting a proposal, the compiler will immediately leverage the new annotation for its null analysis.

Two pre-requisites must be met for using this command:

  • The project is configured to use annotation-based null analysis.
  • An existing workspace folder has been specified as the external annotation location for a given library.
Content assist can insert argument names automatically You can have content assist insert argument names automatically on method completion. This behavior can be customized on the Opens the content assist preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist preference page (see the Fill method arguments and show guessed arguments checkbox.) For example, when you select the second entry here,

content assist window

content assist will automatically insert argument names:

content assist inserted argument names

You can then use the Tab key to navigate between the inserted names.

If you choose Insert best guessed arguments, the best guess will be filled in by default. The alternative proposals are still available.

Automatically insert type arguments
Enabling Fill method arguments and show guessed arguments on the Opens the content assist preference page Java > Editor > Content Assist preference page is also useful when working with parameterized types in J2SE 5.0.
Content assist on a parameterized type
results in:
Content assist guessed and inserted type argument
Remove type arguments after content assist
If content assist added type arguments for a generic type, but you do not want them because you need the .class literal or you want to invoke a static method, rather than deleting all the arguments manually, you can just delete the '<' and that will remove the entire text up to '>'.
Remove surrounding statement To remove a surrounding statement or block, position the cursor at the opening or closing bracket and press Ctrl+1 (Edit > Quick Fix).

'Remove surrounding statement' quick assist

How was that word spelled again? You can enable spell-checking support in the Java editor on the Opens the spelling preference page General > Editors > Text Editors > Spelling preference page. Spelling errors are displayed in the Java editor and corresponding Quick Fixes are available:

An example of a spelling correction proposal.

You can make the dictionary also available to the content assist. A Quick Fix allows you to add new words to the user dictionary on the fly.

Structured selections The Structured Selection actions can be used to enlarge the current selection to the next enclosing element:

Highlight some text and press Alt+Shift+Arrow Up or select Edit > Expand Selection To > Enclosing Element from the menu bar - the selection will be expanded to the smallest Java-syntax element that contains the selection. You can then further expand the selection by invoking the action again (or other actions from the Expand Selection To menu).

This is for example helpful to select the enclosing identifier for renames, or to select adjacent statements for a subsequent Extract Method refactoring.

Find the matching bracket To find a matching bracket select an opening or closing bracket and press Ctrl+Shift+P or select Navigate > Go To > Matching Bracket. You can also double click next to a bracket - this selects the text between the two brackets.

Using 'double click' to select text between two brackets

The Java editor also supports highlighting of enclosing brackets.

Enclosing brackets

This can be configured on the Opens the Java editor preference page Java > Editor preference page.

Smart Javadoc Type '/**' and press Enter. This automatically adds a Javadoc comment stub containing the standard @param, @return and @exception tags.

Result of 'Smart Javadoc'

The templates for the new comment can be configured in the Opens the code templates preference page Java > Code Style > Code Templates preference page.
Use the local history to revert back to a previous edition of a method Whenever you edit a file, its previous contents are kept in the local history. Java tooling makes the local history available for Java elements, so you can revert back to a previous edition of a single method instead of the full file.

Select an element (e.g. in the Outline view) and use Replace With > Local History to revert back to a previous edition of the element.

Replace form local history dialog

Use the local history to restore removed methods Whenever you edit a file, its previous contents are kept in the local history. Java tooling makes the local history available for Java elements, so you can restore deleted methods selectively.

Select a container (e.g. in the Outline view) and use Restore from Local History to restore any removed members.

Restore from local history dialog

Customizable code generation The Opens the code templates preference page Java > Code Style > Code Templates preference page allows you to customize generated code and comments in a similar way to normal templates. These code templates are used whenever code is generated.

Code templates preference page

Since 3.1, it is possible to use project specific Code templates, that will also be shared in the team if your project is shared. Open the Properties on a project to enable project specific settings.
Create comments in your code Comments can be added explicitly with Source > Generate Element Comment (Alt+Shift+J) or automatically by various wizards, refactorings or quick fixes.
Configure the comment templates on the Opens the code templates preference page Java > Code Style > Code Templates preference page.
Enable or disable the automatic generation of comments either directly on the wizard (e.g. using 'Generate Comment' checkbox on the new Java type wizards) or by the 'Automatically add new comments for new methods and types' checkbox of the Opens the code templates preference page Java > Code Style > Code Templates preference page.
All these settings can also be configured on a per project basis. Open the Properties on a project to enable project specific settings.
Sort members You can Sort Members of a Java compilation unit or a set of compilation units according to a category order defined in the Opens the member sort order preference page Java > Appearance > Members Sort Order preference page.
You'll find the action under Source > Sort Members.
Sort library entries alphabetically in Package Explorer The library entries can be sorted alphabetically when setting the preference Sort library entries alphabetically in Package Explorer on the Java > Appearance preference page:

before before
Wrap strings You can have String literals wrapped when you edit them. For example, if you have code like this:
String message= "This is a very long message.";

position your caret after the word "very" and press Enter. The code will be automatically changed to:

String message= "This is a very" +
           " long message.";

This behavior can be customized in the Opens the typing preference page Java > Editor > Typing preference page.

Smart Typing and how to control it The Java editor's Smart Typing features ease your daily work. You can configure them on the Opens the typing preference page Java > Editor > Typing preference page.

Java editor typing preference page

When you enable Automatically insert Semicolons at correct position, typing a semicolon automatically positions the cursor at the end of the statement before inserting the semicolon. This saves you some additional cursor navigation.
You can undo this automatic positioning by pressing backspace right afterwards.

Fix your code indentation with one key stroke A useful feature is Source > Correct Indentation or Ctrl+I.
Select the code where the indents are incorrect and invoke the action.

If nothing is selected, the action indents the current line.

Fix your code indentation on save Eclipse can correct the indentation of your code when you save the editor. Go to the Opens the Save Actions preference page Java > Editor > Save Actions preference page and Configure... Additional actions, and select to Correct indentation on the Code Organizing tab.
Quick menus for source and refactoring actions The refactoring and source actions can be accessed via a quick menu. Select the element to be manipulated in the Java editor or in a Java view and press Alt+Shift+S for the quick source menu, Alt+Shift+T for the quick refactoring menu and Alt+Shift+Z for the surround with menu.

Quick refactoring menu

Extract local variable as 'var' While extracting a local variable in a project having compliance of Java 10 or above, you can choose to declare the local variable type as 'var':
Find unused code The Java compiler detects unreachable code, unused variables, parameters, imports and unused private types, methods and fields. Change the settings for the detection on the Opens the error/warning preference page Java > Compiler > Error/Warnings preference page. These settings can also be specified per project, use: Project > Properties > Java Compiler > Error/Warnings.

Compiler preference page

These problems are detected as you type, and a quick fix is offered to remove the unneeded code. You can also use Source > Clean Up... to remove unused code.
Find problems with null The compiler can help you find problems with null in your code. The Opens the Errors/Warnings preference page Java > Compiler > Errors/Warnings preference page has three options to detect problems:
  • Null pointer access (in 'Null analysis')
    When this option is enabled, the compiler will issue an error or warning whenever a variable that is statically known to hold a null value is used to access a field or method, as shown in the example below:

    Null pointer access example

  • Potential null pointer access (in 'Null analysis')
    When this option is enabled, the compiler will issue an error or a warning whenever a variable is statically known to potentially hold a null value, as shown in the example below:

    Potential null pointer access example

  • Redundant null check (in 'Null analysis')
    When enabled, the compiler will issue an error or a warning whenever a variable that is statically known to hold a null or a non-null value is tested against null, as shown in the examples below:

    Redundant null check example (instanceof always false)

    Redundant null check example

Find problems with externalized strings The Source > Find Broken Externalized Strings action finds undefined, unused and duplicate keys for you:

Externalized string search result example

Change problem severity You can configure the severity of a compiler problem by invoking the Quick Fix (Ctrl+1) which opens the Opens the Errors/Warnings preference page Java > Compiler > Errors/Warnings preference page and highlights the configurable problem.

In older Eclipse versions, this was a toolbar button in enriched hovers (i.e., you had to press F2 or move the mouse into the hover to see it).
Javadoc comment handling The Eclipse Java compiler can process Javadoc comments. Search reports references in doc comments, and refactoring updates these references as well. This feature is controlled from the Opens the Javadoc problems preference page Java > Compiler > Javadoc preference page (or set for an individual project using Project > Properties > Java Compiler > Javadoc).

Javadoc preference page

When turned on, malformed Javadoc comments are marked in the Java editor and can be fixed using Edit > Quick Fix (Ctrl+1):

Problems detected in Javadoc

Suppress warnings In J2SE 5.0 and later, you can suppress all optional compile warnings using the SuppressWarnings annotation.
In this example, addAll() is marked as an unused method. Quick Fix (Ctrl+1) is used to add a SuppressWarnings annotation so that the warning will not be shown for this method.
Quick fix to add SuppressWarning annotation
Clean Ups Source > Clean Up... helps fixing multiple problems at once and helps to establish a consistent code style. For instance, you can:
  • convert all for loops to enhanced for loops where possible.
  • mark all overriding methods in a whole project with an @Override annotation.
  • organize imports
  • format your code
  • remove unnecessary code

Clean Ups are organized in Clean Up profiles. A profile can be attached to the workspace or to individual projects. Project settings can be shared in a team through a version control system. It is also possible to export and import each profile.

Clean Up preference page

Clean Ups can be executed as save actions on save. Go to the Opens the Save Actions preference page Java > Editor > Save Actions preference page to configure which clean ups to invoke on save.


Scripting of refactorings Most of the refactorings offered by JDT can not only be executed interactively, but also by a refactoring script.

Create a refactoring script from the refactoring history using Refactor > Create Script....

A refactoring script can then be applied later on an arbitrary workspace using Refactor > Apply Script....

Such refactoring scripts can be used in different scenarios such as automatic fixing of breaking API changes between software layers or providing patches with rich semantics.
Safe JAR file migration When exporting a JAR file from the workspace, the JAR Export Wizard offers the option to include refactoring information into the JAR file.

Use File > Export... and select JAR file. On the first page of the JAR Export Wizard, select Export refactorings for checked projects. Click on the link to select the refactorings to include.

Clients are then able to migrate an old version of the JAR file to a new one using the Refactor > Migrate JAR File... refactoring. This refactoring automatically updates all code which is dependent on the old version of the JAR file to use the new version of the JAR file.


Locate variables and their read/write access You can locate variables and see their read/write status by selecting an identifier (variable, method or type reference or declaration) and invoking Search > Occurrences in File > Identifier. This marks all references of this identifier in the same file. The results are also shown in the search view with different colors for read or write access, along with icons showing the variable's read or write access.

Read and write accesses to a field

Alternatively, use the Mark Occurrences feature to dynamically highlight occurrences. You can search over several files by using the general search features (Search > References).

Search for methods with a specific return type To search for methods with a specific return type, use "* <return type>" as follows:
  • Open the search dialog and click on the Java Search tab.
  • Type '*' and the return type, separated by a space, in the Search string.
  • Select the Case sensitive checkbox.
  • Select Method and Declarations and then click Search.

Search for method with given return type

Filter search matches in Javadoc By default, Java Search finds references inside Java code and Javadoc. If you don't want to see the references inside Javadoc, you can filter these matches by enabling 'Filter Javadoc' in the view menu (triangle symbol) of the search view.
Filter potential search matches Potential matches occur when a compile-time problem prevents the search engine from completely resolving the match. Filter these matches with Filter Potential in the search view menu (triangle symbol).
Trace method call chains with the Call Hierarchy Use the Call Hierarchy to follow long or complex call chains without losing the original context: Just select a method and invoke Navigate > Open Call Hierarchy (Ctrl+Alt+H).

Call Hierarchy View

You can also use drag and drop to replace the view input with the selected methods. Ctrl+drag adds the selected methods to the existing elements in the view.

Methods from anonymous classes or special types like Runnable are by default expanded with constructors, since it is often more interesting to see where the object is created than where the method is invoked. Expand with Constructors from the context menu toggles this behavior. The defaults can be configured in the view menu.

Code navigation and reading

Open selection in Java editor There are two ways how you can open an element from a reference in the Java editor.
  • Select the reference in the code and press F3 (Navigate > Open Declaration)
  • Hold Ctrl, move the mouse pointer over the reference, and click the hyperlink
Hyperlink style navigation

Holding Ctrl on a class, interface or overridable method shows a popup with an Open Implementation entry, which directly opens the implementation in case there's only one, or shows all the concrete implementations for that element using the quick type hierarchy.

The hyperlink style navigation can be configured on the Opens the hyperlinking preference page General > Editors > Text Editors > Hyperlinking preference page.
Navigate to 'switch' statement You can Ctrl+click or use Open Declaration (F3) on case or default keywords to quickly navigate to the beginning of the switch statement.

In-place outlines Press Ctrl+F3 in the Java editor to pop up an in-place outline of the element at the current cursor position. Or press Ctrl+O (Navigate > Quick Outline) to pop up an in-place outline of the current source file.

Inplace outline

In-place outlines show inherited members Press Ctrl+O or Ctrl+F3 again to add inherited members to an open In-place outline. Inherited members have a blue label. Filter and sort the outline with the menu in the upper right corner.

Quick outline view

The Quick Outline (Ctrl+O) also shows inherited members of the type that contains the current editor selection. The focus types that can show inherited members are marked with a triangle ( Focus adornment ).
In-place hierarchy Find out which are the possible receivers of a virtual call using the Quick Type Hierarchy. Place the cursor inside the method call and press Ctrl+T (Navigate > Quick Type Hierarchy). The view shows all types that implement the method with a full icon.

Quick Type Hierarchy dialog

Press Enter to open the corresponding method in an editor. Press Ctrl+T again to switch to the Supertype hierarchy.

Java Editor Breadcrumb The Java Editor contains a breadcrumb navigation bar which shows the path to the element at the cursor position. The breadcrumb can be enabled via the Toggle Breadcrumb tool bar button or by pressing Alt+Shift+B.

Java Editor Breadcrumb

Each element in the breadcrumb can be selected and actions can be invoked through a context menu or keyboard short cuts. Furthermore the breadcrumb lets you navigate to other elements via drop-downs.

Advanced highlighting The Java editor can highlight source code according to its semantics (for example: static fields, local variables, static method invocations). Have a look at the various options on the Opens the syntax coloring preference page Java > Editor > Syntax Coloring preference page.

An example of advanced highlighting.

Initially folded regions You can specify which regions are folded by default when an editor is opened. Have a look at the Opens the folding preference page Java > Editor > Folding preference page to customize this.

Folding preference page

Mark occurrences When working in the editor, turn on Mark Occurrences in the toolbar (Picture of Mark Occurrences Toolbar Button ) or press Alt+Shift+O. You'll see within a file, where a variable, method or type is referenced.

Editor with occurrences of 'info' marked

Different colors are used to mark read and write accesses.

Selecting a return type shows you the method's exit points. Select an exception to see where it is thrown. Select a super class or interface to see the methods override or implement a method from the selected super type.

Fine tune 'mark occurrences' on the Opens the mark occurrence page Java > Editor > Mark Occurrences preference page.
Change the color for to marker on the Opens the annotations page General > Editors > Text Editors > Annotations preference page.

To show occurrences in the Search view, use the Search > Occurrences feature.

Go to next / previous method To quickly navigate to the next or previous method or field, use
Ctrl+Shift+Arrow Up (Navigate > Go To > Previous Member) or Ctrl+Shift+Arrow Down (Navigate > Go To > Next Member)
Control your navigation between annotations Use the Next / Previous Annotation toolbar buttons or Navigate > Next Annotation (Ctrl+.) and Navigate > Previous Annotation (Ctrl+,) to navigate between annotations in a Java source file. With the button drop-down menus, you can configure on which annotations you want to stop:

Next/Previous annotation drop-down.

Reminders in your Java code When you tag a comment in Java source code with "TODO" the Java compiler automatically creates a corresponding task as a reminder. Opening the task navigates you back to the "TODO" in the code. Use the Opens the todo page Java > Compiler > Task Tags preference page to configure any other special tags (like "FIXME") that you'd like to track in the task list.

Task tags in editor and task view

Open from Clipboard
The Navigate > Open from Clipboard (Ctrl+Shift+V) command tries to navigate to the matching Java element in the editor if the clipboard contains a single line. Otherwise it opens the contents in the Java Stack Trace Console.

For example, to quickly find a Java element from a stack trace, copy a line from the stack trace, say, at java.lang.String.matches(, and go to Navigate > Open from Clipboard to open the String class at line number 1550.

Tricks in the Open Type dialog
The Open Type dialog (Navigate > Open Type or toolbar button) helps you navigate to a type by its name.
  • To find types quickly, only type the capital letters of the type name:
    IOOBE finds IndexOutOfBoundsException.
    Or type the first few characters of each name part:
    NuPoiE finds NullPointerException.
  • To see all types ending with a given suffix, e.g. all Tests, use *Test< to not see all types containing Test somewhere else in the type name.
  • To open multiple types at once, select them in the list and click OK.
Open type dialog with camel case matching
Make hovers sticky You can open the text from a hover in a scrollable window by pressing F2 (Edit > Show Tooltip Description) or by moving your mouse pointer into the hover. You can select and copy content from this window, invoke actions, or follow links.

Window containing content of the hover

You can configure how to enrich the hover on the Opens the Text Editors preference page General > Editors > Text Editors preference page.

Hovers in the Java editor You can see different hovers in the Java editor by using the modifier keys (Shift, Ctrl, Alt).
When you move the mouse over an identifier that has no warning or problem annotation in the Java editor, by default a hover with the Javadoc extracted from the corresponding source of this element is shown. If there's a problem annotation on the identifier then the hover shows the corresponding message. Holding down the Shift key shows you the source code:

Hover showing code of the element in the hover

You can change this behavior and define the hovers for other modifier keys in the Opens the hovers page Java > Editor > Hovers preference page.
Generic method inferred signature
You can use hover to show the inferred signature of a generic method.

Hover showing generic method inferred signature

Open and configure external Javadoc documentation If you want to open the Javadoc documentation for a type, method or field with Shift+F2 (Navigate > Open External Javadoc), you first have to specify the documentation locations to the elements parent library (JAR, class folder) or project (source folder).
For libraries, open the build path page (Project > Properties > Java Build Path), go to the Libraries, and expand the node of the library where you can edit the 'Javadoc location' node. The documentation can be local on your file system in a folder or archive, or on a web server.

Configuring Javadoc location in the Java build path dialog

For types, methods or fields in source folders, go to the (Project > Properties > Javadoc Location).
Find the method implemented by functional interface instances To show the method implemented by functional interface instances, you can hover on:
  • '->' in a lambda expression

hover on '->' in lambda to show functional method

  • '::' in a method reference

hover on '::' in method reference to show functional method

To navigate to the functional method, hold Ctrl, move the mouse pointer over '->' or '::', and click the hyperlink.
Find the resolved type for var You can hover over 'var' to see the resolved type:

hover on 'var' to see the resolved type

To navigate to the resolved type, hold Ctrl, move the mouse pointer over 'var', and click the hyperlink:

open declaration on 'var' to navigate to the resolved type

Java views

Organizing workspace with many projects Use Top Level Elements > Working Sets in the Package Explorer's view menu to enable a new mode that shows working sets as top level elements. This mode makes it much easier to manage workspaces containing lots of projects.

Package Explorer in Working Set mode

Use Configure Working Sets... from the Package Explorer's view menu to configure which working sets get shown. The dialog lets you create new Java working sets, define which working sets are shown and in what order. If Sort Working Sets is not enabled, working sets can also be rearranged directly in the Package Explorer using drag and drop.

Assign working sets To assign an element to a different working set, select the element in the Package Explorer and choose Assign Working Sets... from the context menu.

Screenshot showing the working set assignment dialog

Declaration view The Declaration view ( Opens the Java Declaration view Window > Show View > Other... > Java > Declaration) shows the source of the element selected in the Java editor or in a Java view.

Declaration view

Javadoc view The Javadoc view ( Opens the Javadoc view Window > Show View > Other... > Java > Javadoc) shows the Javadoc of the element selected in the Java editor or in a Java view.

Javadoc view

Type Hierarchy view and method implementations / definitions To find out which types in a hierarchy override a method, use the 'Show Members in Hierarchy' feature:
  1. Select the method to look at and press F4 (Navigate > Open Type Hierarchy). This opens the Type Hierarchy view on the method's declaring type.
  2. With the method selected in the Type Hierarchy view, press the 'Lock View and Show Members in Hierarchy' tool bar button.
The Type Hierarchy view now shows only types that implement or define the 'locked' method. You can for example see that isEmpty() is defined in List and implemented in ArrayList and Vector but not in AbstractList.

Lock view and show members in Hierarchy

Type Hierarchy view supports grouping by defining type The type hierarchy method view lets you sort the selected type's methods by its defining types. For example, for AbstractList you can see that it contains methods that were defined in Object, Collection and List:

Sort members by the defining type in the type hierarchy

Tricks in the type hierarchy
  • Focus the type hierarchy on a new type by pressing F4 (Navigate > Open Type Hierarchy) on an element or a selected name.
  • You can open the Type Hierarchy view not only on types but also on packages, source folders, JAR archives and Java projects. You can select multiple packages, source folders, or projects, and then open a hierarchy that contains all types in the selected containers.
  • You can Drag & Drop an element onto the Type Hierarchy view to focus on that element.
  • You can change the orientation (from the default vertical to horizontal) of the Type Hierarchy view from the view's toolbar menu.
Structural compare of Java source A structural comparison of Java source ignores the textual order of Java elements like methods and fields and shows more clearly which elements were changed, added, or removed.
For initiating a structural comparison of Java files you have two options:
  • Select two Java compilation units and choose Compare With > Each Other from the view's context menu. If the files have differences, they are opened into a Compare Editor. The top pane shows the differing Java elements; double clicking on one of them shows the source of the element in the bottom pane.
  • In any context where a file comparison is involved (e.g. a CVS Synchronization) a double click on a Java file not only shows the content of the file in a text compare viewer, but it also performs a structural compare and opens a new pane showing the results.

Structural compare of Java source

You can even ignore formatting changes when performing the structural compare: turn on the Ignore Whitespace option via the Compare Editor's toolbar button, or a compare viewer's context menu.
Structural compare of property files A structural comparison of Java property files (extension: .properties) ignores the textual order of properties and shows which properties were changed, added, or removed.
For initiating a structural comparison of property files you have two options:
  • Select two files in the Package Explorer or Navigator and choose Compare With > Each Other from the view's context menu.
  • In any context where a file comparison is involved (e.g. a CVS Synchronization) a double click on a property file not only shows the content of the file in a text compare viewer, but it also performs a structural compare and opens a new pane showing the results.

Structural compare of property files

Hierarchical vs. flat presentation of packages An option on the Java Packages (and Package Explorer) view menu allows you to change the way packages are displayed. Package Presentation > Hierarchical displays packages in a tree, with sub-packages below packages; Package Presentation > Flat displays them in the standard arrangement, as a flat list with all packages and sub-packages as siblings.
Flat packages layout Hierarchical package layout
Logical packages The Java Packages view (Java Browsing perspective) coalesces packages of the same name across source folders within a project. The screenshot shows the Packages view containing a logical package.

Java browsing perspective containing a logical package

Compress package names If your package names are very long, you can configure a compressed name that appears in the viewers. Configuration of the compression pattern is done in the Opens the Appearance preference page Java > Appearance preference page.

Compression pattern configuration in the Java appearance preference page

Using this example, packages are rendered the following way:

Compressed package names

Package name abbreviations Package names in Java views can be abbreviated with custom rules. For example, the following rules produce the rendering shown below:
Without abbreviations: With abbreviations:
Package Explorer with abbreviations disabled Package Explorer with abbreviations enabled

The abbreviation rules can be configured on the Opens the Appearance preference page Java > Appearance preference page.

Manipulating the Java build path directly in the Package Explorer Instead of manipulating the Java Build path on Project > Properties > Java Build Path, use the actions in the Package Explorer's context menu.
You can for example add new source folders, archives and libraries to the build path or in- and exclude file and folders from a source folder.

Build path context menu

Paste code snippets to create a type You can paste a snippet of code containing a Java type directly into a package or source folder to create a new compilation unit. For example, select and copy this source code:
package pack;
public class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello World");
Then select a source folder in the Package Explorer and use Ctrl+V (Edit > Paste). This automatically creates a new package 'pack' and file '' with the copied content.

You can also paste a method or a set of statements; Eclipse will create the required enclosing elements for you.

If you paste while nothing is selected in the Package Explorer, Eclipse even creates a new Java Project and create the *.java file there. Furthermore, the clipboard can also contain multiple package and type declarations, in which case Eclipse will create all the necessary packages and *.java files on paste.

Paste patch into Package Explorer What's the quickest way to apply a patch from Bugzilla? Just open the attachment, copy the patch to the clipboard and paste it into the Package Explorer.
Grouping Java problems Configure the Problems view to group Java problems into categories with Group by > Java Problem Type in the view menu.

picture of Problems view with grouped problems

You can control if a configurable error is intended to be fatal or not at the bottom of the Opens the Errors/Warnings preference page Java > Compiler > Errors/Warnings preference page.
Java type indicator Enable the Java Type Indicator on the Opens the Label Decoration preference page General > Appearance > Label Decoration preference page to find out what the first type in a compilation unit or class file is. An adornment is shown for interfaces, annotations, and enums, while an ordinary class stays undecorated.

Picture of Java Type Indicator Label Decorator


Project specific preferences All code style and compiler options can be defined per project.
Open the project property pages with Project > Properties on a project or use the link on the workspace preferences (e.g. the Opens the Code Style preference page Java > Code Style preference page) to open a project property page and enable project specific settings.

Project property page with 'Enable project specific settings' checkbox

The project specific settings are stored in a configuration file inside the project (in the '.settings' folder). When you share a project in a team, team members will also get these project specific settings.
Access rules
Access rules give you the possibility to enforce API rules for types from referenced libraries. On the Java build path page (Project > Properties > Java Build Path) edit the 'Access Rules' node available on referenced projects, archives, class folders and libraries.
Packages or types in these references can be classified as:
  • Accessible
  • Discouraged
  • Forbidden
According to the settings on the Opens the Error/Warnings preference page Java > Compiler > Errors/Warnings preference page, the compiler will mark discouraged and forbidden references with warning or errors.

Access rules configuration dialog

JUnit Select a JUnit test method in a view and choose Run > JUnit Test from the context menu or Run > Run As > JUnit Test from the main menu. This creates a launch configuration to run the selected test.
Hide JUnit view until errors or failures occur You can configure the JUnit view to only open when there are errors or failures. To do so enable Activate on Errors/Failures only in the JUnit view menu. That way, you can have the view set as a fast view and never look at it when there are no failing tests. While there are no problems in your tests you will see this icon Successfully running (the number of small green squares will grow, indicating progress) while running them and this icon Successfully finished after they are finished. If, however, errors or failures occur, the icon will change to Failure or error occurred (or Finished with failure or error if tests are finished) and the JUnit view will appear.
Show JUnit failure trace in Console view You can show the stack trace of a failed JUnit test in the Console view via the button on the JUnit Failure Trace header. The Console view makes it convenient to view a long and wide stack trace, copy parts of the stack trace and navigate to the classes on the stack trace using hyperlinks.

Content assist in dialog fields Content assist (Ctrl+Space) is also available in input fields of various Java dialogs. Look for a small light bulb icon beside the field when it has focus.

New Class Dialog

Smart caret positioning in dialogs showing Java names Text fields for editing Java names support smart caret positioning. Use Ctrl+Left and Ctrl+Right to stop at camel case boundaries inside a name. Use Ctrl+Shift+Left and Ctrl+Shift+Right to extend the selection in small steps. Use Ctrl+Delete to delete the next and Ctrl+Backspace to delete the previous part of a name.

Smart caret positioning in dialog
Smart caret positioning in dialog
Smart caret positioning in dialog
write "Equal":
Smart caret positioning in dialog
Smart caret positioning in dialog
write "To":
Smart caret positioning in dialog
Define prefixes or suffixes for fields, parameters and local variables You can configure the prefix or suffix for fields, static fields, parameters, and local variables. These settings on the Opens the Code Style preference page Java > Code Style preference page are used in content assist, quick fix, and refactoring whenever a variable name is computed.

Name conventions in the code style preference page

Organize Imports works on more than single files You can invoke Source > Organize Imports on sets of compilation units, packages, source folders or Java projects.
Organize imports on save Eclipse can automatically organize imports whenever you save an editor. This feature can be enabled globally on the Opens the Save Actions preference page Java > Editor > Save Actions preference page. The save actions can also be configured per project, which makes it easy to enforce a project-wide standard by sharing the settings across a team:

Save Action property page

Besides organizing imports, save actions can also format code and perform other clean ups.

Format selection Select multiple Java files to format and choose Source > Format to format them all. The format action is also available on packages, source folders or Java projects.

In the Java Editor, Source > Format (Ctrl+Shift+F) formats just the selected region. If nothing is selected, the whole file gets formatted.

Select execution environment for Java project When you create a Java project that you want to share with a team, it is a good idea to use an execution environment instead of a specific JRE.

Execution environments are symbolic representations of JREs with standardized entries like 'J2SE-1.4', 'J2SE-1.5'. That means no file system path will go into the shared build path.

JREs can be assigned to the environments on the Opens the Execution Environments preference page Java > Installed JREs > Execution Environments preference page.

Screenshot of the 'New Java Project' wizard

To set a project specific JRE of an existing project, open the project's Java Build path property page (Project > Properties > Java Build Path), then the Libraries page, select 'JRE System Library' and press Edit. In the 'Edit Library' dialog you can select either an Execution Environment, a project specific JRE, or the workspace default JRE.

Use drag and drop Drag and Drop is a handy replacement of Edit > Cut and Edit > Paste , or Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste. Hold down the Ctrl key while dropping to change from move to copy.

Important to know:

  • If you move Java compilation units between packages by Drag & Drop, this will behave like a refactoring move - all missing imports will be added and references updated
  • If you drag and drop source elements like types or methods, this will only copy or move the corresponding source code - no references will be updated
Propagating deprecation tag The Java compiler can be configured to diagnose deprecation using options on the Opens the Error/Warnings preference page Java > Compiler > Errors/Warnings preference page.

Compiler preference page

Using this configuration, the result is:

If you're unable to fix a usage of a deprecated construct, we recommend that you tag the enclosing method, field or type as deprecated. This way, you acknowledge that you did override a deprecated construct, and the deprecation flag is propagated to further dependents.

Recovering from abnormal inconsistencies In the rare event of a dysfunction, JDT could reveal some inconsistencies such as:
  • missing results in a Java Search or Open Type
  • invalid items in Package Explorer

To bring JDT into a consistent state again, the following actions need to be performed in this exact order:
  1. Close all projects using navigator Close Project menu action
  2. Exit and restart Eclipse
  3. Open all projects using navigator Open Project menu action
  4. Manually trigger a clean build of entire workspace (Project > Clean...)
Build path error decorator The Package Explorer and the Project Explorer show this error decorator Build path error decorator on Java projects and working sets if they contain build path errors:

Build path error decorator

In case of build path errors in the Problems view, first look in the Package Explorer for this icon since it better indicates where the problem is.
'*.class without source' file type The *.class without source file type allows to associate an internal or external editor to class files that have no source attached. This e.g. allows to open the class file in a decompiler:

Screenshot of the 'File Associations' preference page

Selectively ignore errors/warnings from source folders You can configure JDT to ignore optional errors/warnings from certain source folders. See Project properties > Java Build Path > Compiler > Source.

Java Build path page with 'Ignore optional compile problems' highlighted

With this option set to Yes, JDT will suppress errors/warnings configured in the Opens the Errors/Warnings preference page Java > Compiler > Errors/Warnings preference page. This can be desirable for source folders that contain auto-generated classes or tests.

Configure properties of module path entries In a Java project (Java 9 and above), a library or a container can be added to the module path in Project properties > Java Build Path > Libraries tab. The contents and encapsulation properties of this module path entry can further be modified by double-clicking on the Is modular node (or using the Edit button while Is modular is selected):

Ignore unavoidable generic type problems When working with Java libraries whose APIs have not been generified yet, you sometimes run into type safety problems that cannot be avoided due to references to an old API that uses raw types.

Such problems can be ignored with the Ignore unavoidable generic type problems due to raw APIs compiler option.

When the old API is eventually generified, then most of these problems either go away, or you will see a compile error because the type arguments you used are not correct. For raw references in method signatures, the raw type problem will reappear.

This option is disabled by default but can be enabled on the Opens the Errors/Warnings preference page Java > Compiler > Errors/Warnings preference page.


Launching from the context menu

You can run and debug Java applications from the context menu. You can launch a source file, package, method, type, etc. by choosing Run As (or Debug As) > Java Application from the context menu in a view or editor. Alternatively, you can use the Java application launch shortcut key binding (Alt+Shift+D, J). The top level Run As (or Debug As) actions are also sensitive to the current selection or active editor.

Context menu with launch option

Evaluations in the debugger

Snippet evaluation is available from a number of places in the debugger. Choosing Display or Inspect from the context menu of the editor or Variables view will show the result in a pop-up whose result can be sent to the Display or Expressions views.

Result of an inspect in a pop-up

Method result after step operations During debugging, you can view the last method result (per return or throw) that was observed during Step Into, Step Over or Step Return, as first line in the Variables view.

This can be disabled with the option Preferences > Java > Debug > Show method result after a step operation (if supported by the VM; may be slow).

View management in non-Debug perspectives

The Debug view automatically manages debug related views based on the view selection (displaying Java views for Java stack frames and C views for C stack frames, for example). By default, this automatic view management only occurs in the Debug perspective, but you can enable it for other perspectives via the View Management preference page available from the Debug view toolbar pull down.

Environment variables

You can specify the environment used to launch Java applications via the Environment tab.

Environment tab in the launch configuration dialog

String substitutions

Variables are supported for many parameters of Java Application launch configurations. Most fields that support variables have a Variables... button next to them, such as the program and VM arguments fields. The Main Type field supports variables as well; the ${java_type_name} variable allows you to create a configuration that will run the selected type.

Arguments tab in the launch configuration dialog

Override modular build path dependencies for launching In a modular project (Java 9 and above), the command line options from its build path can be overridden for launching programs on the Dependencies tab:

Override Dependencies button

Show Command Line button in Launch Configuration A new button Show Command Line has been added in the Java Launch Configuration dialog.

Clicking the button will open a dialog to show the command line used for launching the application.
Logical structures The Show Logical Structure toggle on the Variables view toolbar presents alternate structures for common types.

JDT provides logical views for Maps, Collections, and SWT Composites. You can define logical structures for other types from the Logical Structures preference page. The Show Logical Structure context menu lets you choose or edit the representation.

Open field declaration During debugging, for a variable, previously it was only possible to navigate to the actual or to the declared type of that variable. With the new Open Field Declaration context menu item, it is extended to go to the declaration of that field. This can be especially helpful, if the object is inside a deep class inheritance hierarchy.

Open Field Declaration

Lambda Entry Breakpoint During debugging, you can now add entry breakpoints for Lambda expressions which will enable the debugger to stop at the entry of lambda expression instead of stopping at the first expression of the line. You can see the breakpoint in the Breakpoints view indicated by the implemented functional interface. Double clicking the breakpoint in Breakpoints view will display the associated Lambda Expression in the editor.

You can add new Lambda Entry breakpoint by selecting the Toggle Lambda Entry Breakpoint from the Ruler context menu or Run menu. You can select a particular lambda expression to add the breakpoint, if none is selected the entry breakpoint is added to the first lambda expression on the line. You can add only one breakpoint per line.

Lambda Entry Breakpoint

Console supports stack from Debug view

Surprisingly enough, Java Stack Trace Console never supported navigation to Java types for Java stack traces copied from Debug view via "Copy Stack" action. Now the console will underline type names and line numbers and clicking on links will jump to the corresponding source code. If the type name is not unique, default "Select type" dialog will appear to allow selection of the right type.

Console shows links to Java types

Label Objects during debugging During debugging a Java application, often we have to deal with lot's of object instances, and it's not always easy to distinguish between them. That's why the experience is improved, with the ability to set a label on individual objects.

After setting a label, everywhere the object appears it is displayed with a distinctive color and with the label:

Objects with Label

Variable columns

Columns in the Variables view can be configured by selecting Layout > Select Columns... in the view menu. A dialog allows you to select the columns to display. For example, a column can be added to display instance counts of classes (when debugging with JavaSE-1.6). Columns can be toggled on/off using the Layout > Show Columns action.

Dialog used to select configure columns in the variables view

Column display in the variables view

Show references

When debugging with JavaSE-1.6, references to objects can be displayed in the Variables view by selecting Java > Show References in the view menu. A "referenced from" entry will appear under each object that can be expanded to show all references to that object.

Display references in the variables view

All instances

When debugging with JavaSE-1.6, all instances of a class can be inspected by selecting a class in an editor outline, variables view, compilation unit or class file editor and invoking All Instances... from the context menu. A pop-up dialog will display all instances of the selected class.

Display references in the variables view

Default VM arguments

If you specify the same arguments to a certain VM frequently, you can configure Default VM Arguments in the Installed JREs preference page. This is more convenient than specifying them for each launch configuration.

JRE preference page with default argument specified

Stop in main You can use Stop in main in a Java Application launch configuration to cause your program to stop at the first executable line of the main method when you run it under debug mode.

Main tab with Stop in Main option selected

Conditional breakpoints You can use expressions to define conditional breakpoints using the Breakpoint Properties... dialog or detail pane in the breakpoints view. A condition controls when a breakpoint actually halts execution. You can specify whether you want the breakpoint to suspend execution only when the condition is true, or when the condition value changes. The breakpoint condition editor supports content assist.

Breakpoint condition editor in breakpoint properties dialog or breakpoint detail pane

Triggers for breakpoints You can define a set of triggers for the breakpoints in a workspace.

Any breakpoint can be set as a trigger point by using Breakpoint Properties... dialog or the Breakpoints view's detail pane.

Triggers are rendered with an overlay of "T" and the breakpoints suppressed by the triggers are rendered with an overlay of "T" with a cut.

All the other breakpoints that are initially suppressed by triggers will be hit only after any of the trigger points has been hit. All the triggers are disabled after a trigger point is hit and will be re-enabled after the run.

Debugging by writing to console via Tracepoint You can avoid inserting System.out.println() statements in your code for debugging by using tracepoints to print to the Console view. To do so, add a tracepoint via Run > Toggle Tracepoint.

It creates a conditional breakpoint using the "systrace" template with Suspend when 'true' option.

Since the condition doesn't explicitly return a boolean true, the condition is considered to implicitly return false, and the breakpoint will not suspend the execution.
Disabling breakpoints If you find yourself frequently adding and removing a breakpoint in the same place, consider disabling the breakpoint when you don't need it and enabling it when needed again. This can be done using Disable Breakpoint in the breakpoint context menu or by unchecking the breakpoint in the Breakpoints view.

You can also temporarily disable all breakpoints using the Skip All Breakpoints (Ctrl+Alt+B) action in the Breakpoints view toolbar. This will tell the debugger to skip all breakpoints while maintaining their current enabled state.

Disable Breakpoint action in the ruler context menu

Toggle breakpoint modifier keys Use modifier keys while toggling breakpoints in the Java editor:
  • Holding the Ctrl key while double-clicking (toggling) a breakpoint will cause the Properties dialog for that breakpoint to be displayed (on the Mac, use Command)

  • Holding the Shift key while double-clicking (toggling) a breakpoint will enable / disable that breakpoint
If there is no existing breakpoint, a normal breakpoint toggle takes place even if a modifier key is held down.
Changing variable values When a thread is suspended in the debugger, you can change the values of Java primitives and Strings in the Variables view. From the variable's context menu, choose Change Variable Value. You can also change the value by typing a new value into the Details pane and using the Assign Value action in the context menu (CTRL+S key binding).

Change variable value from detail pane

History for expressions in the Variables view The Variables view stores a history of the expressions used in the Detail pane. You can choose a previously entered expression for a variable from the drop-down menu. The expression will be copied to the Detail pane where you can select it to perform various actions present in the context menu.

History for expressions in the Variables view

Variable values in hover help When a thread is suspended and the cursor is placed over a variable in the Java editor, the value of that variable is displayed as hover help.

Variable value hover in the editor

Drop to frame When stepping through your code, you might occasionally step too far, or step over a line you meant to step into. Rather than restarting your debug session, you can use the Drop to Frame action to quickly go back to the beginning of a method. Select the stack frame corresponding to the Java method you wish to restart, and select Drop to Frame from Debug view toolbar or the stack frame's context menu. The current instruction pointer will be reset to the first executable statement in the method. This works for non-top stack frames as well.

Note that Drop to frame is only available when debugging with a 1.4 or higher VM, or the J9 VM. There are some situations where a JVM may be unable to pop the desired frames from the stack. For example, it is generally impossible to drop to the bottom frame of the stack or to any frame below a native method.

Hot code replace The debugger supports Hot Code Replace when debugging with a 1.4 or higher VM, or the J9 VM. This lets you make changes to code you are currently debugging. Note that some changes such as new or deleted methods, class variables or inner classes cannot be hot swapped, depending on the support provided by a particular VM.
Stepping into selections and hyperlink debugging The Java debugger allows you to step into a single method within a series of chained or nested method calls. Simply select the method you wish to step into and select Step into Selection from the Java editor context menu.

This feature works in places other than the currently executing line. Try debugging to a breakpoint and step into a method a few lines below the current instruction pointer.

Stepping into selection

When the caret is not in a method name, the feature steps into the next method on the selected line. For example, when the caret is at the beginning of the line
    assertTrue(fFull.size() == 100),
then Step into Selection steps into assertTrue(..) (unlike Step Into, which would step into size()).

You can also step into a method by using hyperlink navigation. Simply place the cursor over the method you wish to step into and use Ctrl+Alt+Click to step into the method (rather than Ctrl+Click which will navigate to the source code).

Use Ctrl+Alt+Click to step into a method hyperlink

Console pin and lock Output displayed in the console can be locked to a specific process via the Pin Console action in the Console view toolbar. There's also a Scroll Lock action that stops the console from scrolling as new output is appended.
Creating watch items A watch item is an expression in the Expressions view whose value is updated as you debug. You can create watch items from the Java editor by selecting an expression or variable and choosing Watch from its context menu or the top-level Run menu.
Watch points A watch point is a breakpoint that suspends execution whenever a specified field is accessed or modified. To set a watchpoint, select a field in the Outline view and choose Toggle Watchpoint from its context menu. To configure a watchpoint, select the watchpoint in the Breakpoints view and choose Properties... from its context menu. The most important properties for this type of breakpoint are the Access and Modification checkboxes which control when the breakpoint can suspend execution. You can also set a condition for the watch point, where the old value of the field can be used as part of the condition.

Class load breakpoints A class load breakpoint suspends execution when a specified class is loaded in the virtual machine. To set a class load breakpoint, select a class in the Outline view and choose Toggle Class Load Breakpoint from its context menu. You can also use the Run > Add Class Load Breakpoint... menu action to create a class load breakpoint.

Class load breakpoints suspend execution when a specified class is loaded

Method breakpoints A method breakpoint suspends execution when a specific method is entered or exited. To set a method breakpoint, select a method in the Outline view and choose Toggle Method Breakpoint from its context menu. Alternatively, double click on a method declaration line in the editor ruler or use the Run > Toggle Method Breakpoint menu action to create a method breakpoint in the currently selected method.

By default a method breakpoint only suspends execution when a method is entered. You can use the breakpoint detail pane or the breakpoint properties dialog to configure the breakpoint to suspend on exit. Method breakpoints also support conditions.

Method breakpoints suspend execution when a specific method is entered or exited

Threads and monitors The Java debugger optionally displays monitor information in the Debug view. Use the Show Monitors action in the Debug view drop down menu to show which threads are holding locks and which are waiting to acquire locks. Threads involved in a deadlock are rendered in red.

Debug view showing deadlock cycles

Step filters Step filters prevent the debugger from suspending in specified classes and packages when stepping into code. Step filters are established with the Opens the Step Filtering preference page Java > Debug > Step Filtering preference page. When the Use Step Filters toggle (on the debug toolbar and menu) is on, step filters are applied to all step actions. In the Debug view, the selected stack frame's package or declaring type can be quickly added to the list of filters by selecting Filter Type or Filter Package from the stack frame's context menu.
Using the scrapbook If you want to experiment with API or test out a new algorithm, it's frequently easier to use a Java scrapbook page than create a new class. A scrapbook page is a container for random snippets of code that you can execute at any time without a context. To create a scrapbook page, create a new file with a .jpage extension (or use the Opens the New Scrapbook wizard New Scrapbook Page wizard). Enter whatever code you wish to execute and then select it. There are three ways to execute your code:
  • Execute the selected code and place the returned result in an inspect popup
  • Execute the selected code and place the String result right in the scrapbook page

    Scrapbook page displaying result

  • Execute the selected code (and ignore any returned result)

These actions are in the workbench toolbar and also in the scrapbook page's context menu.

Holding down the Ctrl key and making a selection from the Run or Debug drop-down menu opens the associated launch configuration for editing. The launch configuration can also be opened from the context menu associated with any item in the Debug view.
Favorite launch configurations Launch configurations appear in the Run/Debug drop-down menus in most recently launched order. However it is possible to force a launch configuration to always appear at the top of the drop-downs by making the configuration a 'favorite'. Use the Organize Favorites... action from the appropriate drop down menu to configure your favorite launch configurations.
Detail formatters In the Variables & Expressions views, the detail pane shows an expanded representation of the currently selected variable. By default, this expanded representation is the result of calling toString() on the selected object, but you can create a custom detail formatter that will be used instead by choosing New Detail Formatter from the variable's context menu. This detail formatter will be used for all objects of the same type. You can view and edit all detail formatters in the Opens the Detail Formatters preference page Java > Debug > Detail Formatters preference page.

Detail formatter dialog

Running code with compile errors You can run and debug code that did not compile cleanly. The only difference between running code with and without compile errors is that if a line of code with a compile error is executed, one of two things will happen:
  • If the 'Suspend execution on compilation errors' preference on the Opens the Debug preference page Java > Debug preference page is set and you are debugging, the debug session will suspend as if a breakpoint had been hit. Note that if your VM supports Hot Code Replace, you could then fix the compilation error and resume debugging
  • Otherwise, execution will terminate with a 'unresolved compilation' error

It is important to emphasize that as long as your execution path avoids lines of code with compile errors, you can run and debug just as you normally do.

Word wrap in Variables view The details area of the debugger's Variables and Expressions views supports word wrap, available from the view drop-down menu.

Word wrap action in Variables view drop-down menu

Code assist in the debugger Code assist is available in many contexts beyond writing code in the Java editor:
  • When entering a breakpoint condition
  • In the Details pane of the Variables & Expressions view
  • When entering a Detail Formatter code snippet
  • When entering a Logical Structure code snippet
  • When entering code in a Scrapbook page
  • In the Display view
Command line details You can always see the exact command line used to launch a program in run or debug mode by selecting Properties from the context menu of a process or debug target, even if the launch has terminated.

Command line details

Stack trace
Java stack traces in the console appear with hyperlinks. When you place the mouse over a line in a stack trace the pointer changes to the hand. Pressing the mouse button opens the associated Java source file and positions the cursor at the corresponding line. Pressing the mouse button on the exception name at the top of the stack trace will create an exception breakpoint.

Stack traces in Console view with hyperlinks

Debugging in the Java perspective You can debug in the Java perspective by configuring the Run/Debug > View Management preferences. Select the perspectives you want to be debug from.

View Management preference page

Ensure the preference to activate the debug view when a breakpoint is hit is turned on (via the top level Run/Debug preference page).

Run/Debug preference page

You can disable the perspective switching prompt on the Run/Debug > Perspectives preference page. With these settings the Debug view will automatically open in the Java perspective when a breakpoint is hit.

Perspectives preference page

By placing the Debug view at the top of the perspective and resizing its height to the size of one element, the view will switch to a bread crumb presentation. This minimizes the amount of screen space the view consumes.

Debug view in bread crumb mode