Use Fast Views to maximise screen space

As a developer, the main area on my screen is the editor, the place where the code is. To work better and faster, I want this space to be as big as possible.

The default Java perspective in Eclipse comes with a number of views that surround the editors. This gives the editors less space, which means I need to do a lot more work to get my coding done, eg. more scrolling, paging, etc.

Eclipse helps out with a feature called Fast Views, a way to make views smaller so they take up less space. It’s the first thing I do to a new workspace (if I don’t have my workspace preferences handy) and I’d recommend it to anyone struggling with small monitors or stuck with just one monitor.

How to use Fast Views

Fast View minimises a view to the size of an icon and places it along the edges of the window. Just right-click on a view and select Fast View and it will be thrown to the Fast View strip (by default  at the bottom of the window).

The video below shows an example of how to use Fast View to make the Package Explorer and some other views smaller. I normally make sure the left side has only fast views. The bottom and right side have normal sized views.

Notes:

  • You can restore a view in fast view mode by right-clicking on its icon and deselecting Fast View.
  • The Fast View strip can be moved to the left, bottom and right edges. I prefer the left as its out of the way of the other views.
  • An open fast view autohides when you press Escape or click anywhere outside the view.

Which views should become fast views?

The question is how to choose which views become Fast Views and which not. I have a couple of criteria that might help you in making that decision:

  • Infrequently used views should go to the fast view area. I use the Package Explorer infrequently because I get most of its helpful features from other places, eg. opening a resource comes from Open Resource (Ctrl+Shift+R), creating a class in a certain package is doable on the New Class wizard, etc.
  • Views that don’t need to be persistently viewable to be useful should go to the fast view area. Good examples are the Breakpoints and Tasks views. You open them, use them, then move onto something else (I use the Package Explorer in a similar way). Examples of views you might want open for longer are the Outline, Search and Console views.

Here’s my current list of views I have in Fast View: Package Explorer, Type Hierarchy, Bookmarks, Plug-ins, Plug-in Dependencies, Progress, Tasks, Ant, Breakpoints. It changes slightly depending on what environment I work in but only by 1 or 2 views.

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