Sunday, 11 November 2012

JD-Eclipse Realign - Usability

Background

In my previous post I talked about the problems caused by the original JD-Eclipse Realign approach of using a special editor to open decompiled source for a class. The key problem was that opening a class file is something which you only expect to involve the selected class but the resulting decompiled source is attached to the entire jar. Worse, the decompiled source attachment was something which could then be used by the standard Class File Viewer resulting in some weird behaviour.

I previously fixed this by switching to a model where decompiled source was enabled/disabled through a context menu that was intended to make the similarity with source attachments much more explicit.


This solution was technically sound but the usability was frankly awful. Any time you wanted to enable/disable decompiled source you were forced to use the Package/Project Explorer context menu which has loads of entries and is therefore always quite unpleasant to use.

Toolbar Buttons (V1.1.0)

The first step to improve this situation was to take the ability to attach/detach decompiled source and move it into the top level toolbar.


This pair of buttons expose two commands - Attach Decompiled Source, Detach Decompiled Source. The buttons are dynamically displayed in the toolbar when either a Class File Viewer editor is active or when at least one class, package in a jar or entire jar is selected in the Package/Project Explorer.

Pressing one of these buttons applies the action to all relevent selected objects in the active "Part". This means that if an editor is active the action applies to the class in that editor and if the Package/Project Explorer view is active the action applies to all selected classes, packages in jars or entire jars.

Decompiled By Default (V1.1.1)

Having added the toolbar buttons I realised that it was still not easy enough to jump straight into decompiled source. If you open a class without source you have to deal with a tiny moment of disappointment/frustration before reaching for the toolbar button to enabled decompiled source.

The solution to this problem is to restore the JD-Eclipse Realign editor (JDE-R Editor) with subtely different functionality.

The original decompiled source editor was styled with a different icon and always attached decompiled source when opening a class file. In the restored JDE-R Editor the behaviour has been changed so that decompiled source is only attached when there isn't already a normal source attachment. The icon of the JDE-R Editor has also been changed to be the same as the standard Class File Viewer.

The overall intention is that the JDE-R Editor should behave and look exactly the same as the built in Class File Viewer except that opening a class in a jar without a source attachment will attach decompiled source.

Once you have a class file opened with either normal or decompiled source in either the standard Clas File Viewer or JDE-R Editor you can use the toolbar buttons to quickly switch between normal and decompiled source.

File Associations

With the JDE-R Editor restored in V1.1.1 I have also restored the code which automatically attempts to set up the "correct" file associations on startup. These are as follows:

Pre-Juno:
  • .class file - Class File Viewer [Decompiled]
Juno:
  • .class file - Class File Viewer
  • .class file without source - Class File Viewer [Decompiled]
"Class File Viewer [Decompiled]" is the name I have given to the JD-Eclipse Realign editor.

Getting Started

To try out JD-Eclipse Realign you should use the update site listed on the JD-Eclipse Realign project page.

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