Configure those annoying tooltips in Eclipse to only popup on request

Whenever you hover over any piece of code in Eclipse, it pops up a tooltip that displays more information about the item, such as its declaration, variable values or Javadoc information, as in the example below.

Although useful at times, this becomes extremely annoying after a while, especially when you’re using your mouse to browse some code. Popup after popup of unwanted information keeps obscuring your view of the code, leading to some lengthy expletives and big productivity loss. It’s useful information, but not every time all the time, almost like your car’s GPS giving you directions to 10 different places at once while you’re still parked in the driveway.

Luckily there is a way to alleviate the problem and all it takes is changing some preferences in Eclipse. We don’t want to completely disable tooltips (they can be useful), so I’ll show you how to tell Eclipse to bring up the tooltips only when you request them.

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Categorise projects in the Package Explorer to reduce clutter in Eclipse

If you’ve been hanging onto one Eclipse workspace for the last couple of years, you’ll probably have dozens of projects cluttering up your workspace. If you’re an Eclipse RCP developer, you may be sitting with around 50+ projects easily.

The thing is that you’ll often only work with 1 or 2 at a time, not the whole lot. And sometimes you want a convenient way of only browsing projects belonging to a specific product/feature/layer/any-other-grouping-that-makes-sense. Having all projects in a long list makes it difficult to manage and more difficult to browse.

That’s why the Package Explorer and Project Explorer have a nice feature that reduces the clutter and allows you to organise your project into categories that make sense. So instead of the Package Explorer looking unwieldy and flat like this,

it could look like this:

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Split and view the same editor side by side in Eclipse

At some point you’ll want to view the same class or file side by side. You may want to follow related code in different parts of the class or need some code constantly available as reference to change some other part of the class.

Eclipse allows you to split an editor and move it to anywhere in the editor area in the same window, including next to the original editor. Changes made in the one editor are reflected in the other. The feature isn’t very obviously named, but it is easy to use.

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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.

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