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Unveiling of New Terminal plug-in for Eclipse!

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Unveiling of New Terminal plug-in for Eclipse!

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I’m happy to announce the first release of our terminal plug-in for Eclipse!

This plug-in provides a fully-working, command-line terminal to Eclipse 3.7 or later (yes, even 4.2!). It works on Linux and MacOS only.

Why a terminal?

At Google we have several interactive command-line tools that we need to invoke from Eclipse. It resulted in poor user experience. The terminal opened in its own window. After issuing several commands, managing all those windows was messy. This terminal also does not allow us to copy/paste URLs.

This first release is mostly for users to give the terminal a try. For our next release, we expect to fix all major bugs and have the ability to issue commands from Eclipse.

Standing on the shoulder of giants

The terminal plug-in is based on two great Eclipse projects: Eclipse CDT and Eclipse Target Management. We forked the minimum necessary pieces to make the plug-in work. From Target Management we got the terminal emulator, and from CDT we got the pseudo-terminal (PTY) support.

Improvements

Once we had a minimal terminal working, we added some features to improve the user experience.

1. Quickly open a terminal from almost anywhere in Eclipse

A new terminal view can be opened in three different ways:

  1. Right-click any file or folder, and select the “Open Terminal Here” context menu (idea borrowed from the Windows XP Power Toy “Command Prompt Here”)
  2. On a terminal view, click the “New Terminal” button in the toolbar
  3. If there are no terminal views open, go to the menu “Window” > “Show View” > “Other” and find “Terminal” under the “General” category

2. Colors and font configuration

You can change the terminal’s background and foreground colors as well as the font. Go to the “Window” menu (or “Eclipse” menu in Mac OS) and navigate to the “Terminal” > “Colors and Font” preference page.

3. Hyperlinking

The terminal plug-in recognizes and provides hyperlinks for URLs using the HTTP(S) protocol. We’ll provide an extension point for custom hyperlink detectors.

4. Keyboard shortcuts

Shortcuts for copy/pasting text was one of the most requested features. On Linux, you can use Ctrl+Shift+C and Ctrl+Shift+V. On MacOS, you can use Command+C and Command+V, respectively.

5. Change terminal’s title

By default, the title of a terminal view is the last segment of the path of its working directory. You can change the title by pressing a button in the toolbar.

Project location

The terminal plug-in is hosted at Google Code, under the name ELT (Eclipse Local Terminal).

Feedback is always welcome :)

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