Monday, March 28, 2011

Controlling Eclipse Preferences

Ever struggled with preference settings in Eclipse?
A typical case is where you have to over and over again reapply the same preferences in to new workspaces and projects. Quite tiresome.

This problem was addressed during this years EclipseCon in the talk Getting Eclipse Preferences Under Control in Teams. Here we learned of three parallel projects addressing in different ways the same issue:

Full presentation is available here.

Shortly after the session, I also stumbled across a post on the e4-dev list announcing yet another initiative e4preferences.

Given that there is a fair number of attempts to address various aspects of the "preference problem", I now hope that we can work together to, if not once and for all solve, but at least improve the preference sharing support for end users.

Except for Bug 334016, there's wikis describing what they do, so I'll have a go at explaining it.

The name of this feature is "Common Preferences" and was developed for Ericsson in order to address the problem of sharing "common preferences" between users and teams in the larger enterprise.

It has been deployed and successfully used for about 4 years now.
For the end user, the typical case could be that he/she never notices that Common Preferences is there to help out. This is accomplished by installing the feature along with everything else in the Eclipse based product and having it preconfigured to set key preferences (such as network proxies etc) upon creating a workspace.

In addition to this, the users can then add their own preferences to the list of what is to be managed. There's a neat export wizard allowing the user to identify what preferences are modified (i.e. changed from their default values) and thus helping the user to compile a Eclipse preference file which later can be imported by others in the team (including the user him/herself). It also allows the comparison of applied preferences with those defined by the Common Preferences.

As of writing, I'm waiting for this bug to progress further through the submission process. Ideally, it could result in an improved preference sharing support in the platform, possibly by merging the key features from the various initiatives addressing this gaping hole.

Why don't you go ahead and vote on bug 334016 ...


  1. Get the Common Preferences here: