Monday, August 3, 2009

Access the new Eclipse Community Forums from inside Eclipse itself

Thanks to Denis Roy, Eclipse now has a modern web user interface for its user/developer newsgroups. While I, personally, still prefer to use Thunderbird to access the newsgroups the "old fashioned" way, I'm sure many users will appreciate this big improvement over the old web interface.
The new forums site is still in a "beta" stage (please report any problems or suggestions to bug 284281), but I thought it would be nice to have easy access to it from right within Eclipse itself. So I've developed this little plug-in that adds an "Eclipse Community Forums" view to all perspectives. The View is basically an SWT Browser widget that is hard-coded to the forums site, along with some basic toolbar buttons for navigation.

A few notes on this "first draft" implementation:
  • I've only tested it on OS X (Cocoa) so far; please let me know how (or if) it works on Windows XP, Vista, and Linux.
  • The View is supposed to be automatically added as a Fast View to all perspectives (and it does correctly when I test it in a self-hosting environment), but when I installed it into an existing Eclipse instance I had to manually open the View via Window > Show View > Other...
    If anyone has some ideas why it isn't automatically added after installation, please let me know.

  • The Login toolbar action currently only takes you to the Login page, but my plan is to have it (optionally) automatically submit your login credentials if you choose to store them. I need to get with Denis to help debug why my attempts at submitting a login via URL isn't working.
  • The Shortcuts list is an extension point that any plug-in can contribute to. For now I've included just some of the more popular newsgroups forums; if I get this accepted as an official plug-in, the vision is that different Eclipse projects would contribute to the extension point to have their forum included.
  • Notice the "Open in External Browser" button in the View toolbar (not the toolbar that is inside the view above the browser). I waffled back and forth on whether to put the Login and Shortcuts actions up there, too. If you have a UI design opinion about that, please let me know.
  • My goal is to get feedback and improve this over the next week or two and eventually submit it for inclusion as a first-class citizen of the SDK and package builds. So please let me know what you think and help me make it better.
You can install the plug-in from this update site:

1 comment:

Jacek Pospychala said...

Benjamin Cabe proposed something similar in a recent post. If two smart guys think about the same, there must be something in it!