Monday, 11 February 2013

Eclipse IDE Tutorial

This tutorial describes the usage of Eclipse as a Java IDE. It describes the installation of Eclipse, the creation of Java programs and tips for using Eclipse. This tutorial is based on Eclipse 4.2 (Juno).

1. What is Eclipse?

Most people know Eclipse as an integrated development environment (IDE) for Java. Today it is the leading development environment for Java with a market share of approximately 65%.
Eclipse is created by an Open Source community and is used in several different areas, e.g. as a development environment for Java or Android applications. Eclipse's roots go back to 2001.
The Eclipse Open Source community has over 200 Open Source projects covering different aspects of software development.
The Eclipse projects are governed by the Eclipse Foundation. The Eclipse Foundation is a non-profit, member supported corporation that hosts the Eclipse Open Source projects and helps to cultivate both an Open Source community and an ecosystem of complementary products and services.
The Eclipse IDE can be extended with additional software components. Eclipse calls these software components plug-ins. Several Open Source projects and companies have extended the Eclipse IDE.
It is also possible to use Eclipse as a basis for creating general purpose applications. These applications are known as Eclipse Rich Client Platform (Eclipse RCP) applications.

2. Eclipse Public License

The Eclipse Public License (EPL) is an Open Source software license used by the Eclipse Foundation for its software. The EPL is designed to be business-friendly. EPL licensed programs can be used, modified, copied and distributed free of charge and receiver of EPL-licensed software can choose to use this software in closed source programs. Only modifications in the original EPL code must be released.
The Eclipse Foundation also validates that source code contributed to Eclipse projects is free of Intellectual property (IP) issues. This process is known as IP cleansing.
The permissive EPL and the IP cleansing effort of the Eclipse Foundation makes reusing the source code of Eclipse projects attractive.

3. Eclipse Installation

3.1. Java requirements of Eclipse

Eclipse requires an installed Java Runtime. Eclipse 4.2 requires at least Java 5 to run.
For this tutorial you should use Java in version 6 or higher.
The Eclipse IDE contains its own Java compiler. The Java Development Tools are required if you compile Java source code outside Eclipse and for advanced development scenarios, for example if you use automatic builds or if you develop web development.

3.2. Installation of Java

Java might already be installed on your machine. You can test this by opening a console (if you are using Windows: Win+R, enter cmd and press Enter) and by typing in the following command:

java -version 

If Java is correctly installed, you should see some information about your Java installation. If the command line returns the information that the program could not be found, you have to install Java. The central website for installing Java is the following URL: 

If you have problems installing Java on your system, a Google search for How to install JDK on YOUR_OS should result in helpful links. Replace YOUR_OS with your operating system, e.g. Windows, Ubuntu, Mac OS X, etc.

3.3. Download Eclipse

The Eclipse IDE consists out of components and it is possible to configure the selected components. The website provides pre-packaged Eclipse distributions to provide downloads for typical use cases. The Eclipse IDE for Java Developers distribution is specifically designed for standard Java development.
Download the Eclipse IDE for Java Developers package from the following URL. Ensure that you download the right version for your Java version (32 bit vs. 64 bit). 

The following screenshot shows the Eclipse download website for a Linux system, press on the link beside the package, e,g, Linux 64 Bit to start the download.

Eclipse Download page

The download is a .zip file.

3.4. Install Eclipse

After you downloaded the .zip file with the Eclipse distribution you unpack it to a local directory.
Most operating system can extract zip files in their file browser, e.g. Windows7 via right mouse click on the file and selecting "Extract all...".
If in doubt, search via Google for "How to unzip a file on ...", replacing "..." with your operating system.
Use a directory path which does not contain spaces in its name, as Eclipse sometimes has problems with that.
After unpacking the zip file, Eclipse is ready to be used; no additional installation procedure is required.

4. Getting started

4.1. Starting Eclipse

To start Eclipse double-click on the file eclipse.exe (Microsoft Windows) or eclipse (Linux / Mac) in the directory where you unpacked Eclipse.
The system will prompt you for a workspace. The workspace is the place in which you work. Select an empty directory and press the OK button.

Selecting the Workspace

Eclipse will start and show the Welcome page. Close the welcome page by pressing the X beside Welcome.

Closing the Eclipse welcome screen

After you closed the welcome screen you should see a screen similar to the following.

Closing the Eclipse welcome screen

4.2. Appearance

The appearance of Eclipse can be changed. By default Eclipse ships with a few themes but you can also extend Eclipse with new themes. The appendix of this tutorial lists popular themes.
To change the appearance, select from the menu WindowPreferencesGeneralAppearance.
The Theme selection allows you to change the appearance of your Eclipse IDE. Disabling the animations will make your Eclipse run faster.

Changing the theme

Please note that you need to restart Eclipse to apply a new styling correctly.

5. Important Eclipse terminology

Eclipse provides Perspectives, Views and Editors. Views and Editors are grouped into Perspectives.

5.1. Workspace

The workspace is the physical location (file path) you are working in. Your projects, source files, images and other artifacts can be stored and saved in your workspace. It is also possible to refer to external resources, e.g. projects, in the workspace.
You can choose the workspace during startup of Eclipse or via the menu (FileSwitch WorkspaceOthers) .

5.2. Eclipse projects

An Eclipse project contains source, configuration and binary files related to a certain task and groups them into buildable and reusable components. An Eclipse project can have natures assigned to it which describe the purpose of this project. For example the Java nature defines a project as Java project.
Natures for a project are defined via the .project file in the project directory.
Projects in Eclipse cannot contain other projects.

5.3. Views and Editors - Parts

Parts are user interface components which allow you to navigate and modify data. Parts are typically divided into Views and Editors.

Eclipse application with a few parts

The distinction into Views and Editors is primarily not based on technical differences, but on a different concept of using and arranging these Parts.
A view is typically used to work on a set of data, which might be a hierarchical structure. If data is changed via the view, this change is typically directly applied to the underlying data structure. A view sometimes allows us to open an Editor for a selected set of data.
An example for a view is the Java Package Explorer, which allows you to browse the files of Eclipse projects. If you change data in the Package Explorer, e.g. renaming a file, the file name is directly changed on the file system.
Editors are typically used to modify a single data element, e.g. a file or a data object. To apply the changes made in an editor to the data structure, the user has to explicitly save the editor content.
Editors were traditionally placed in a certain area, called the editor area. Until Eclipse 4 this was a hard limitation. Eclipse 4 applies no technical restrictions on Editors, they can be freely positioned.
For example the Java Editor is used to modify Java source files. Changes to the source file are applied once the user selects the Save command.

5.4. Perspective

A Perspective is a visual container for a set of Parts. The Eclipse IDE uses Perspectives to arrange Parts and configure the menu and the toolbar for different development tasks. Open Editors are shared between Perspectives, i.e. if you have an editor open in the Java perspective for a certain class and switch to the Debug perspective, this editor stays open.
You can switch Perspectives in your Eclipse IDE via the WindowOpen PerspectiveOther menu entry.
The main perspectives used in the Eclipse IDE are the Java perspective for Java development and the Debug perspective for debugging Java applications.

Switching perspectives in the Eclipse IDE

You can change the layout and content within a Perspective by opening or closing Parts and by re-arranging them.
To open a new Part in your current Perspective use the WindowShow ViewOther menu entry. The following Show View dialog allows you to search for certain Parts.
Show View dialog

In case you want to reset your current perspective to its default, you can use the WindowReset Perspective menu entry.
You can save your Perspective via WindowSave Perspective As....

Save your perspective configuration

The WindowCustomize Perspective... menu entry allows you to adjust the selected perspective. For example you can hide or show toolbar and menu entries.

Customize Perspective

6. Eclipse Java perspective

6.1. Toolbar

The application toolbar contains actions which you typically perform, e.g. creating Java resources or running Java projects. It also allows to switch between opened perspectives.

Java Perspective toolbar

6.2. Useful Views

The Java perspective contains useful Views which allow you to work with your Java project. The following description explains the most important ones.

6.3. Package Explorer view

The Package Explorer view allows you to browse the structure of your projects and to open files in an Editor via a double-click on the file.
It is also used to change the structure of your project. For example you can rename files or move files and folders via drag and drop. A right-click on a file or folder shows you the available options.

Package Explorer

6.4. Outline view

The Outline view shows the structure of the currently selected Java source file.

Outline View

6.5. Javadoc view

The Javadoc view shows the documentation of the selected element in the Java editor.

Javadoc View

6.6. Java editor

The Java editor is used to modify your Java source code. Each Java source file is opened in its separate editor.

Java editor

If you click in left column of the editor you can configure its properties for example that line number should be displayed.

Java editor

7. Create your first Java program

The following describes how to create a minimal Java program using Eclipse. It is tradition in the programming world to create a small program which writes "Hello World" to the console. We will adapt this tradition and will write "Hello Eclipse!" to the console.

7.1. Create project

This tutorial uses the naming convention that the project is named the same as the top-level package in the project.
Select from the menu FileNewJava project. Enter de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first as the project name. Select the Create separate folders for sources and class files flag.

New Java Project Wizard

Press the Finish button to create the project. A new project is created and displayed as a folder. Open the de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first folder and explore the content of this folder.

7.2. Create package

In the following step you create a new package. A good convention for the project and package name is to use the same name for the top level package and the project. For example if you name your project com.example.javaproject you should also use com.example.javaproject as top level package name.
To create the de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first package, select the folder src, right-click on it and select NewPackage.

Right mouse click to create a package

Enter the name of your new package in the dialog and press the Finish button.

Create a package Dialog

7.3. Create Java class

Create a Java class. Right-mouse click on your package and select NewClass.

Create a new class selection

Enter MyFirstClass as the class name and select the public static void main (String[] args) flag.

Create a new class selection

Press the Finish button.
This creates a new file and opens the Editor for Java source files. Change the class to the following example.

package de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first;

public class MyFirstClass {

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    System.out.println("Hello Eclipse!");


You could also directly create new packages via this dialog. If you enter a new package in this dialog, it is created automatically.

7.4. Run your project in Eclipse

Now run your code. Either right-click on your Java class in the Package Explorer or right-click in the Java class and select Run-asJava application.

Run project

Eclipse will run your Java program. You should see the output in the Console view.

Result of the running application

Congratulations! You created your first Java project, a package, a Java class and you ran this program inside Eclipse.

8. Run Java program outside Eclipse

8.1. Create jar file

To run your Java program outside of the Eclipse IDE you need to export it as a .jar file. A .jar file is the standard distribution format for Java applications.
Select your project, right-click on it and select the Export menu entry. .

Export wizard for Java project

Select JAR file, select next. Select your project and maintain the export destination and a name for the jar file. I named it myprogram.jar.

Export wizard for Java project, Part II

Export wizard for Java project, Part III

Press finish. This creates a jar file in your selected output directory.
Congratulations! You created your first Java project, a package, a Java class and you ran this program inside Eclipse.

8.2. Run your program outside Eclipse

Open a command shell, e.g. under Microsoft Windows select StartRun and type cmd and press enter. This should open a console.
Switch to your output directory, by typing cd path. For example if your jar is located in c:\temp type cd c:\temp.
To run this program you include the jar file into your classpath. The classpath defines what Java classes are available to the Java runtime. You can add a jar file to the classpath with the -jar option.

java -classpath myprogram.jar de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first.MyFirstClass 

Type the above command in the directory you used for the export and you see the "Hello Eclipse!" output in your command shell.

Running application outside Eclipse

9. Exporting and importing projects

9.1. Exporting projects

You can export and import Eclipse projects. This allows you to to share your projects with other people and to use existing projects.
To export Eclipse projects, select FileExportGeneralArchive File and select the projects you want to export.

Exporting project

Exporting projects part 2

9.2. Importing projects

To import projects, select FileImportExisting Projects into Workspace. You can import from an archive file, i.e. zip file or directly import the projects in case you have extracted the zip file.

Importing projects

Importing projects from archive file

10. Navigating the Java source code

10.1. Package Explorer

The primary way of navigating through your project is the Package explorer. You can open nodes in the tree and open a file in an editor by double-clicking on the corresponding entry in the Package explorer.

Package explorer display

The drop-down menu in the package explorer allow you to filter the resources which should be displayed or hidden.

Filter in the package explorer

10.2. Link Package Explorer with editor

You can also activate editors which are already open directly by clicking on their tab. The Link with Editor toggle button allows you to synchronize the selection in the package explorer with the currently selected editor. This way you see directly in the package explorer the file for the editor which currently has the focus.

Link Package Explorer with editor

10.3. Show in Breadcrumb

You can also activate the breadcrumb mode for your Java editor which allows you to navigate your source code directly from your Java editor.
You can activate this mode via right-click in the editor and by selecting the Show in Breadcrumb entry.

Show in Breadcrumb

This allows you to navigate your source code from your editor as depicted in the following screenshot.

Breadcrumb view

To hide it again, right-click on a breakcrump entry and select Hide Breadcrumb.

Breadcrumb view

11. Navigate in the Java source code

You can also use other means than the Package Explorer to navigate your source code. The following description lists the most important ones.

11.1. Opening a class

You can navigate between the classes in your project via the Package Explorer view. You can navigate the tree and open a file via double-click.
In addition you can open any class by positioning the cursor on the class in an editor and pressing F3. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Shift+T. This will show a dialog in which you can enter the class name to open it.

Opening a class

You can also search for package names. Each part of the package name must end with a . so that the Open Type Dialog can identify it as package. You only need to specify part of each segment of the package name. Assume for example that you search for the org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Button class. To find this class you can use the search term org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Button or o.e.s.w.Button or o.Button

Opening a class with package name

The Open Type Dialog also supports camel-case like search, e.g. it matches capital letters in the class name. For example if you would search for the OnTouchListener class you could use OTL or OToList as search term.

Opening a class with camel-case

To avoid suffix matching you can add a space after the class name. For example you can type Selection (there is a space after selection) to match the Selection class but not the SelectionListener class.

11.2. Quick Outline

If you right-click in your Java editor, you can select the Quick Outline option which shows you an outline of your Java class with the option to filter.


The shortcut for opening the Quick Outline is Ctrl+O. By default Quick Outline shows only the direct members and fields of the class. Press Ctrl+O again to show also the inherited members and fields.
The default look of the Quick Outline option is similiar to the Quick Outline view of the Java perspective.

11.3. Open Type Hierarchy

The type hierarchy of a class shows you which classes it extends and which interfaces it implements. You can use the type hierarchy to navigate to one of these elements.
To open the type hierarchy of the selected class, right-click in the editor and select Open Type Hierarchy (Shortcut: F4) or Quick Type Hierarchy (Shortcut: Ctrl+T).

11.4. Search Dialog

Via the SearchSearch menu (Shortcut: Ctrl+H) you can open the search dialog of Eclipse.
Use the Java Search tab to search for Java elements, e.g. methods.

Text search

The search shows all references for the selected scope. You can double-click on a search entry to navigate to the corresponding position in the editor.

Text search

Use the File Search tab to search for text.

Text search

Eclipse associates file extensions with the default tab. You can customize the available search tabs via the Customize button in the Search dialog.
The Search view allows you to delete search results via the Delete key.

Customize search

Customize search

11.5. Incremental find

You can use the Ctrl+j shortcut to activate Incremental Find. This allows you to search in the current active editor for a text which is displayed in the status line as depicted by the following screenshot.

Incrementation search

The advantage of this search is that no pop-up dialog is opened which blocks other elements in the Eclipse IDE.

11.6. Find element based on current selection

If you have selected an element in the editor you can use the Ctrl+k shortcut to search for the next occurance of the selected text and Ctrl+Shift+k for the previous element.

11.7. Annotation navigations

You can also navigate via the annotation buttons, e.g. for jumping to the next error or warning in your source code.

Annotation navigation

By pressing the buttons you can navigate to the related annotations. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+. for selecting the next annotation or Ctrl+, for selecting the previous annotation.
The following screenshot shows source code with two warnings and one error and you can navigate between the corresponding code via the annotation buttons.

Moving in the source code

Which annotations are relevant for navigation can be configured via the drop-down menu.

Annotation navigation

11.8. Shortcuts

You also have lots of shortcuts available for navigation. Please check the appendix of this tutorial for these shortcuts.

12. Opening a resource

Similar to your Java source code you can navigate between other files in your project via the Package Explorer view. You can navigate the tree and open a file via double-click.
In addition you can open any file in your projects via the Open Resource dialog which can be opened via the Ctrl+Shift+R shortcut. This will show a dialog in which you can enter the resource name to open it.

13. Content Assist and Quick Fix

13.1. Content assist

Content assist is a functionality in Eclipse which allows the developer get context sensitive content completion upon user request.
It can be invoked by pressing Ctrl+Space
For example type syso in the editor of a Java source file and then press Ctrl+Space. This will replace syso with System.out.println("").
If you have a reference to an object, for example the object person of the type Person and need to see its methods, type person. and press Ctrl+Space.

Content Assists

13.2. Quick Fix

Whenever Eclipse detects a problem, it will underline the problematic text in the editor. Select the underlined text and press Ctrl+1 to see proposals how to solve this problem. This functionality is called Quick Fix.
For example type myBoolean = true; If myBoolean is not yet defined, Eclipse will highlight it as an error. Select the variable and press Ctrl+1, Eclipse will suggest creating a field or local variable.

Using Quickfix Example

Quick Fix is extremely powerful. For example it allows you to create new local variables and fields as well as new methods and new classes. Or it can put try-catch statements around your exceptions. It can also assign a statement to a variable and much more.
Quick Fix also gives several options for code changes on code which does not contain errors, e.g. it allows you to convert a local variable to a field.

14. Generating code

Eclipse has several possibilities to generate code for you. This can save significant time during development.
For example Eclipse can override methods from superclasses and generate the toString(), hashcode() and equals() methods. It can also generate getter and setter methods for attributes of your Java class.
You can find these options in the Source menu.

Code generation

To test the source generation, create the following class in your de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first project.

package de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first;

public class Person {
  private String firstName;
  private String lastName;


Select SourceGenerate Constructor from Fields, mark both fields and press the OK button.


Select SourceGenerate Getter and Setter, select again both of your fields and then the OK button.
Select SourceGenerate toString(), mark again both fields and press the OK button.
You created the following class:

package de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first;

public class Person {
  private String firstName;
  private String lastName;

  public Person(String firstName, String lastName) {
    this.firstName = firstName;
    this.lastName = lastName;

  public String getFirstName() {
    return firstName;

  public void setFirstName(String firstName) {
    this.firstName = firstName;

  public String getLastName() {
    return lastName;

  public void setLastName(String lastName) {
    this.lastName = lastName;

  public String toString() {
    return "Person [firstName=" + firstName + ", lastName=" + lastName
        + "]";


15. Exercise: code generation and content assists

15.1. Introduction

In this exercise you practice the usage of code generation and the usage of the Content Assists functionality.

15.2. Create project

Create a project called com.vogella.ide.todo.

15.3. Create class

Create the com.vogella.ide.todo package and the following class.

package com.vogella.ide.todo;

import java.util.Date;

public class Todo {
  private long id;
  private String summary = "";
  private String description = "";
  private boolean done = false;
  private Date dueDate;


Select SourceGenerate Constructor using Fields to generate a constructor using all fields.
Use the SourceGenerate Getter and Setter to create getters and setters for all fields.
The resulting class should look like the following listing.

package com.vogella.ide.todo;

import java.util.Date;

public class Todo {
  private long id;
  private String summary = "";
  private String description = "";
  private boolean done = false;
  private Date dueDate;

  public Todo(long id, String summary, String description, boolean done,
      Date dueDate) { = id;
    this.summary = summary;
    this.description = description;
    this.done = done;
    this.dueDate = dueDate;


  public long getId() {
    return id;

  public void setId(long id) { = id;

  public String getSummary() {
    return summary;

  public void setSummary(String summary) {
    this.summary = summary;

  public String getDescription() {
    return description;

  public void setDescription(String description) {
    this.description = description;

  public boolean isDone() {
    return done;

  public void setDone(boolean done) {
    this.done = done;

  public Date getDueDate() {
    return dueDate;

  public void setDueDate(Date dueDate) {
    this.dueDate = dueDate;


Use Eclipse to generate a toString() method for the Todo class based on the id and summary field. This can be done via the Eclipse menu SourceGenerate toString().
Also use Eclipse to generate a hashCode() and equals() method based on the id field. This can be done via the Eclipse menu SourceGenerate hashCode() and equals().

15.4. Create instances

Create a new class called TodoProvider. Create the following static method in your TodoProvider class.

// Helper method to get a list 
// of Todo objects

// Example data, change if you like
  public static List<Todo> createInitialModel() {
    ArrayList<Todo> list = new ArrayList<Todo>();
    list.add(createTodo("SWT", "Learn Widgets"));
    list.add(createTodo("JFace", "Especially Viewers!"));
    list.add(createTodo("DI", "@Inject looks interesting"));
    list.add(createTodo("OSGi", "Services"));
    list.add(createTodo("Compatibility Layer","Run Eclipse 3.x"));
    return list;

  private static Todo createTodo(String summary, String description) {
    return new Todo(current++, summary, description, false, new Date());

15.5. Write a test class

Write another TodoProviderTest class with a public static void main (String[] args) method.
In your main method call the createInitialModel method and validate that the returned number of items is 5.
If another number than 5 is returned, throw a RuntimeException. If the correct number is returned, write the String "Correct" to the Console view.
Use Content assist to create the System.out.println() based on syso for you.

Content Assists Input

Content Assists Result

16. Refactoring

16.1. Refactoring

Refactoring is the process of restructuring the code without changing its behavior. For example renaming a Java class or method is a refactoring activity.

16.2. Refactoring in Eclipse

Eclipse supports several refactoring activities, for example renaming or moving.
For example to use the Rename refactoring, you can right-click on your class (in the editor or Package Explorer) and select RefactorRename to rename your class. Eclipse will make sure that all calls in your Workspace to your class or method are renamed.
The following screenshot shows how to call the Rename refactoring for a class. The cursor is positioned on the class and the user presses the right-mouse key to show the context menu.

Renaming a class

The most important refactoring are listed in the following table.

Table 1. Refactoring
Refactoring Description
Rename Rename a variable or class
Extract Method Creates a method based on the selected code in the editor
Extract Constant

Eclipse has much more refactorings. The available options depend on the selection in the Java editor. In most cases you should get an idea of the performed action by the naming of the refactoring operation.

17. Exercise:Refactoring

17.1. Preparation

For the next examples change the MyFirstClass class to the following code.

package de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first;

public class MyFirstClass {

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    System.out.println("Hello Eclipse!");
    int sum = 0;
    for (int i = 1; i <= 100; i++) {
      sum += i;

17.2. Extract method

A useful refactoring is to mark code and create a method from the selected code. To use this in this exercise, mark the coding of the "for" loop, right click on the selection and select Refactoring Extract Method. Use calculateSum as the name of the new method.

Extract Method refactoring

After this refactoring the class should look like the following code.

package de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first;

public class MyFirstClass {

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    System.out.println("Hello Eclipse!");
    int sum = 0;
    sum = calculateSum(sum);

  private static int calculateSum(int sum) {
    for (int i = 1; i <= 100; i++) {
      sum += i;
    return sum;

17.3. Extract Constant

You can also extract strings and create constants based on the strings. Mark for this example the Hello Eclipse! string in your source code, right-click on it and select RefactorExtract Constant. Name your new constant "HELLO".

Extract Constants

The string is now defined as a constant.

package de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first;

public class MyFirstClass {

  private static final String HELLO = "Hello Eclipse!";

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    int sum = 0;
    sum = calculateSum(sum);

  private static int calculateSum(int sum) {
    for (int i = 1; i <= 100; i++) {
      sum += i;
    return sum;

18. Eclipse Shortcuts

Eclipse provides a lot of shortcuts to work efficiently with the IDE. For a list of the most important Eclipse shortcuts please see Eclipse Shortcuts

19. Using project dependencies

You can define in Eclipse that a project uses another project. For this select your project, right-click on it and select Properties.
Select Java Build Path and the Projects tab.

Defining project dependencies

If you add a project to the build path of another project, you can use its classes in Eclipse.
This only works within Eclipse, outside Eclipse you need to create for the projects Java libraries and add them to the classpath of your Java application.

20. Using jars (libraries) in Eclipse

20.1. Adding a Java to the project classpath

The following explanation describes how to add Java libraries to the classpath of your project within Eclipse.
If the libraries should be distributed with your project you can store the jar files directly in your project.
For example you can create a new Java project de.vogella.eclipse.ide.jars. Then, create a new folder called lib, by right clicking on your project and selecting NewFolder.

Creating a new folder

From the menu select FileImportGeneralFile System. Select the Java library you want to import and select the lib folder as target. Alternatively, just copy and paste the jar file into the lib folder.
Afterwards right-click on your project and select Properties. Under Java Build PathLibraries select the Add JARs button.
The following example shows how the result would look like, if the junit-4.4.jar file had been added to the project.

Adding a jar to the current project

After adding it to the classpath, you can use in Eclipse the classes contained in the jar file in the project. Outside Eclipse you still need to configure your classpath, e.g. via the MANIFEST.MF file.

20.2. Attach source code to a Java library

You can open any class via positioning the cursor on the class in an editor and pressing F3. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Shift+T. This will show a dialog in which you can enter the class name to open it.
If the source code is not available, the editor will show the byte-code of that class.
This happens for example if you open a class from a the standard Java library without attaching the source code to it.
To see the source code of such a class, you can attach a source archive or source folder to a Java library. Afterwards the editor shows the source instead of the byte-code.
Attaching the source code to a library allows you also to debug this source code.
The Source Attachment dialog can be reached in the Java Build Path page of a project. To open this page right-click on a project and select PropertiesJava Build Path. On the Libraries tab, expand the library's node, select the Source attachment attribute and press the Edit button.
In the Location path field, enter the path of an archive or a folder containing the source.
The following screenshot shows this setting for the standard Java library. If you have the Java Development Kit (JDK) installed, you should find the source in the JDK installation folder. The file is typically called

Maintaining the location of the source attachment to an jar

20.3. Add the Javadoc for a jar

It is also possible to add Javadoc to a library which you use.
Download the Javadoc of the jar and put it somewhere in your filesystem.
To enter the location of the Javadoc, open the Java Build Path via a right-click on a project and select PropertiesJava Build Path. On the Libraries tab expand the library's node, select the Javadoc location attribute and press the Edit button.
Enter the location to the file which contains the Javadoc.

Enter the location to the Javadoc file for a jar file

21. Updates and Installation of Plug-ins

21.1. Eclipse Update Manager

Eclipse contains a software component called Update Manager which allows you to install and update software components. Installable software components are called features and consist of plug-ins.
These features are contained in so-called update sites or software sites. A update site can be for example a directory on a webserver which contains installable software components and additional configuration files.
These configuration files provide aggregated information about these the software components. If Eclipse checks which software components are available on this update site it only needs to download and parse these configuration files to know the content of this update site.
To update your Eclipse installation, select HelpCheck for Updates. The system searches for updates for the already installed software components. If it finds updated components, it will ask you to approve the update.
To install a new functionality, select HelpInstall New Software.

Selecting an update site in the update manager

From the Work with list, select an URL from which you would like to install new software components.
To add a new update site, press the Add button and enter the new URL as well as a name for the new update site.
The following update sites contain the official Eclipse components.

# Eclipse 4.3 (Kepler release)

#Eclipse 4.2 (Juno release) 

If you select a valid update site, Eclipse allows you to install the available components. Check the components which you want to install.

Selecting an update site in the update manager

Io install some components you have to uncheck the Group items by category checkbox because not all available plug-ins are categorized. If they are not categorized, they will not be displayed, unless the grouping is disabled.

21.2. Eclipse Marketplace

Eclipse also contains a client which allows installing software components from the Eclipse Marketplace client. The advantage of this client is that you can search for components, discover popular extensions and see descriptions and ratings.
Compared to the update manager you do not have to know the URL for the software site which contains the installable software components.
Not all Eclipse distributions contain the Marketplace client by default. You may need to install the Marketplace client software component into Eclipse before you can use it. The following screenshot shows how to install it from one of the official Eclipse update sites.

Installing the MPC

To open the Eclipse Marketplace select HelpEclipse Marketplace.

Showing the Eclipse Marketplace Client

You can use the Find box to search for components. Pressing the Install button starts the installation process.

21.3. Uninstalling components

If you select HelpAbout and then the Installation Details button, you can uninstall components from your Eclipse IDE.

21.4. Restarting Eclipse

After an update or an installation of a new software component you should restart Eclipse to make sure that the changes are applied.

22. Advanced Eclipse Update manager options

22.1. Manual installation of plug-ins (dropins folder)

Eclipse plug-ins are distributed as jar files. If you want to use an Eclipse plug-in directly or don't not know the update site for it, you can place it in the dropins folder of your Eclipse installation directory.
Plug-ins are typically distributed as jar files. To add a plug-in to your Eclipse installation, put the plug-in .jar file into the Eclipse dropins folder and restart Eclipse. Eclipse should detect the new plug-in and install it for you.
If you remove plug-ins from the dropins folder and restart Eclipse these plug-ins are automatically removed from your Eclipse installation.

22.2. Exporting and importing the installed components

Eclipse allows you to export a file which describes the installed Eclipse components. During the export the user can select which components should be included into this description file.
Other users can import this description file into their Eclipse installation and install the components based on this file.
This way Eclipse installation can be kept in sync with each other.
To export a description file, select FileExportInstallInstalled Software Items to File and select the components which should be included into your description file.

Exporting a description file for p2

To install the described components in another Eclipse installation, open the exported file with FileImportInstallInstall Software Items from File and follow the wizard. The wizard allows you to specify the components which should be installed.

22.3. Installing features via the command line

Eclipse p2 has a component called director which allows you to install new features via the command line.
For example the following will install the components EGit, Mylyn and EMF into an Eclipse instance.

eclipse/eclipse \
-application org.eclipse.equinox.p2.director \
-noSplash \
-repository \ \
-installIUs \,\,\,\,\,\,\ 

23. Eclipse Java development preferences

23.1. Overview

The behavior of the Eclipse IDE can be controlled via the Preference settings. Select WindowPreferences to open the preference settings dialog. You can use the filter box to search for specific settings.

Preference settings

Correctly configuring Eclipse to your need can largely improve your productivity in using the Eclipse IDE.

23.2. Automatic placement of semicolon

Eclipse can make typing more efficient by placing semicolons at the correct position in your source code.
In the Preference setting select JavaEditorTyping. In the Automatically insert at correct position selection enable the Semicolons checkbox.

Type Assists which allow setting the semicolon to the right position

Afterwards you can type a semicolon in the middle of your code and Eclipse will position it at the end of the current statement.

23.3. Auto escape text pasted into Strings

Eclipse allows to escape automatically text if they are pasted into a String literal. For example you can copy HTML code and paste it into a String in your Java source. Eclipse would escape the text automatically for you.
Activate this setting via WindowsPreferencesJavaEditorTypingIn string literalsEscape text when pasting into string literals
Now can you paste text which requires that it is escaped. The following code snippet shows an example for the resulting code if you paste HTML code containing a link into a string literal.

# paste <a href="tutorials.html">Tutorials</a>
# between "" of String s = ""

# results in:
String s = "<a href=\"tutorials.html\">Tutorials</a>"; 

23.4. Bracket highlighting

You can configure Eclipse so that the matching brackets of a code block are highlighted in the source code editor.

Highlight the enclosing brackets in JDT

Before the change you would not see the enclosing brackets afterwards they will be slightly highlighted. This helps to see in which block you are.

Without highlight the enclosing brackets in JDT

With highlight the enclosing brackets in JDT

23.5. Activate Save Actions

Eclipse can format your source code and organize your import statements automatically during a save operation. This is useful as the Save (shortcut: Ctrl+S) is easy to reach.
You can find this setting under JavaEditorSave Actions.

Save Actions

Import statements will only be automatically created, if Eclipse finds only one valid import. If Eclipse determines more than one valid import, it will not add import statements automatically. In this case you still need to right-click in your editor and select SourceOrganize Imports (shortcut: Shift+Ctrl+O).

23.6. Filter import statements

The Save Actions settting automatically adds required import statements to your source code if there is only one possible import.
Alternatively or if there are several possible imports, you can use the Organize Imports (shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+O). If there are several alternatives, Eclipse suggests all available packages and the user has to select the right one.
To following shows the available packages for the List class in the Organize Imports dialog.

Dialog for selecting the correct import statement

If you never use certain packages, for example AWT or Swing, you can exclude these packages from Eclipse via the WindowsPreferencesJavaAppearanceType Filters setting.
Press the Add packages buttons to add a specific package or the Add button to use wildcards. The setting in the following screenshot excludes all AWT packages from the possible imports and other Java search functionality in Eclipse.

Filtering packages from the Eclipse import

Please note that Eclipse shows (in its default configuration) only the packages which are used in the current workspace. If you want to exclude standard Java packages, you have to create at least one Java project.

23.7. Completion overwrites and insert guessed method arguments

Eclipse can override existing method calls, in case you trigger a code completion in an existing statement. Eclipse can also try to guess the correct actual parameters for a method call.

JDT completion

With the first setting you can override methods in the middle of a statement via the Ctrl+Space code assists shortcut.

Trigger code completion

Without this setting you would get the following result, which results in a syntax error.

JDT completion

With this setting you get the following result.


24. More on preferences

24.1. Launch Configuration

Eclipse allows to start an application via the Run button in the menu or via the Ctrl+F11 shortcut. By default Eclipse will determine if the currently selected file is executable and try to start that. If is sometimes confusing, you can configure the Eclipse IDE to start always the last started program.
To configure that select WindowPreferencesRun/DebugLaunching and define that always the previous launched application should be launched.

Setting the previous launched application

24.2. Configuring the editors for a file extension

The Editors which are available to open a file can be configured via Window PreferencesGeneralEditorsFile Associations.
The Default button in this preference dialog allows to set the default editor for a certain file extension, e.g. this is the Editor which will be used by default if you open a new file with this extension.
The other configured Editors can be selected, if you right-click on a file and select Open With In the sub-menu you see the available editors. The available editors depend on your Eclipse installation.

Open With

Eclipse will remember the last Editor you used to open a file and use this Editor again the next time you open the file.

24.3. Export / Import Preferences

You can export your preference settings from one workspace via FileExportGeneralPreferences.
Similarly you can import them again into another workspace via FileImportGeneralPreferences.

25. Using and configuring template

25.1. Templates

In Eclipse you can create templates for code snippets. This code snippets can be activated via autocomplete (Ctrl+Space).
For example, assume that you are frequently creating public void name(){} methods. You could define a template which creates the method body for you.
To create a template for this, select the menu WindowPreferencesJavaEditor Templates.

Maintaining code templates

Press the New button. Create the template shown in the following screenshot.

Creating a new code template

${cursor} indicates that the cursor should be placed at this position after applying the template.
In this example the name npm is your keyword for code completion.
Now every time you type npm in the Java editor and press Ctrl+Space the system will allow you to replace your keyword with your template.

Using code templates

25.2. Code Templates

Eclipse can generate source code automatically. In several cases comments are added to the source code.
Select WindowPreferencesJavaCode Style Code Templates to change the code generation templates.
In the code tree you have the templates. Select for example Code Method Body and press the Edit button to edit this template and to remove the "todo" comment.

Removing the todos from the Java code templates

26. Organizing your workspace

26.1. Overview

The Eclipse IDE allows you to organize your project into workspaces so that you can hide certain resources. You can also place markers in the code which you can later access via the Task view.

26.2. Working Sets

You will create more and more projects in your development career. Therefore the data in your workspace grows and it is hard to find the right information.
You can use working sets to organize your displayed projects / data. To set up your working set select the Package Exploreropen the drop-down menuSelect Working Set...

Showing the working set

Press New on the following dialog to create a working set.

Creating new working sets

On the next dialog select Resource, press the Next button and select the projects you would like to see and give it a name.

Creating new working sets

Creating new working sets

You can now filter the displayed files in the Package Explorer based on the created working set.

Filtering resources for the working set

26.3. Task Management

You can use // TODO comments in your code to add task reminders.
This indicates a task for Eclipse. You find those in the Task view of Eclipse. Via double-clicking on the task you can navigate to the corresponding code.
You can open this view via WindowShow ViewTasks.
For example, add a TODO to your MyFirstClass class to see it in the Tasks view.

package de.vogella.eclipse.ide.first;

public class MyFirstClass {

  private static final String HELLO = "Hello Eclipse!";

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    // TODO Provide user interface
    int sum = 0;
    sum = calculateSum(sum);

  private static int calculateSum(int sum) {
    for (int i = 0; i <= 100; i++) {
      sum += i;
    return sum;

Close the editor for the MyFirstClass class. If you now double-click on the tasks, the Java editor opens again and the TODO comment is selected.

A more advanced tasks management system is available with the Mylyn plug-in.

27. Eclipse command line configuration

27.1. Eclipse startup parameters

Eclipse allows that certain behavior is configured via startup parameters. This requires that you start Eclipse from the command line or that you configure your launcher links so that these parameters are considered. The following parameters are relevant for the Workspace.

Table 2. Workspace Startup Parameters
Parameter Description
-data workspace_path Predefine the Eclipse workspace.
-showLocation Configures Eclipse so that is shows the current workspace directory in the title of Eclipse.

For example if you want to start Eclipse under Microsoft Windows using the c:\temp directory as workspace you can use the following command from the command line.

c:\eclipse.exe -data "c:\temp" 

Depending on your platform you may have to put the path name into double quotes.

27.2. Eclipse initialization file

Your Eclipse installation contains a file called eclipse.ini which can be used to set parameters for your Eclipse IDE and your Java virtual machine. For example the -Xmx parameter can be used to define how large the Java heap size can can get. -Xms defines the initial heap size of the Java virtual machine.
The Eclipse specific runtime parameter are described under the following URL:

27.3. Default values for preference settings

You can specify default values for preferences via file which is typically called plug_customization.ini.
This file you can setup default values for preference settings. For example the following will setup a default type filter for the java.awt and javax.swing package.


You link to this file via your eclipse.ini file in your Eclipse installation directory. The following assumes that you created the plug_customization.ini file in the Eclipse installation directory.


Only the -pluginCustomization plugin_customization.ini parameter was added to the default eclipse.ini file.
To identify additional preference settings you can use the following approach:
  • start a new workspace
  • change the preference
  • export all preferences
  • search the key in the exported file
Note that you need to remove the scope (e.g. /instance/) before copying it into the plug_customization.ini file.

28. Eclipse online resources

28.1. Online documentations

The Eclipse help system is available from within your Eclipse installation as well as online.
With your running Eclipse IDE you can access the online help via HelpHelp Contents. This will start a new window which shows you the help topics for your currently installed components.

Starting the Eclipse help

Online you find the online help under The online help is version dependent and contains the help for all Eclipse projects included in the selected release.

28.2. Webresources

The Eclipse homepage also contains a list of relevant resources about Eclipse and Eclipse programming. You find these resources under
You also find several tutorials about the Eclipse IDE on the following webpage:

29. Reporting Eclipse bugs and asking questions

29.1. Asking (and answering) questions

Due to the complexity and extensibility of Eclipse you will need additional resources to help you resolve your specific problems. Fortunately the web contains several resources which can help you with your Eclipse problems.
Currently the best places to ask questions are the Eclipse forums and Stack Overflow.
The Eclipse forums can be found under the following URL:
Stack Overflow can be found under the following URL:
The Eclipse forums offer several topic specific forums in which you can post and answer questions. To post questions in the Eclipse forums you need a valid user account in the Eclipse bugtracker. The advantage of the Eclipse forums is that, depending on the topic, Eclipse committers are also active there and might directly answer your question.
Stack Overflow also requires a user account and its community is also very active. Stack Overflow does not have separate forums for specific questions. In Stack Overflow you tag your questions with the relevant keyword, e.g. Eclipse and people search for them or subscribe to them.
Both places are excellent places to ask questions. If you ask a question it is in general good advice to be polite and to give a good error description as this motivates people to give you high quality answers.

29.2. Eclipse Bugs

Eclipse has a public bug tracker based on Bugzilla. Bugzilla is an Open Source project.
This bugtracker can be found under Here you can search for existing bugs and review them.
To participate actively in the Eclipse bugtracker you need to create a new account. This can be done by pressing the Open a New Account link.

Opening a account at Eclipse bugzilla

Once you have a user account, you can login to the Eclipse bugtracker. This allows you to comment on existing bugs and report new ones.

30. Next steps

To learn how to debug Eclipse Java programs you can use Eclipse Debugging
To learn Java Web development you can use with Servlet and JSP development . If you want to develop rich stand-alone Java clients you can use Eclipse RCP You can extend Eclipse with Eclipse Plug-ins .
Good luck in your journey of learning Java!

31. Thank you

Please help me to support this article:
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32. Questions and Discussion

Before posting questions, please see the vogella FAQ. If you have questions or find an error in this article please use the Google Group. I have created a short list how to create good questions which might also help you.

33. Links and Literature

33.1. Source Code

Source Code of Examples

33.2. Eclipse Resources

33.2.1. Eclipse Homepage

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