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Painting the Workbench

If you’re a UI developer in Eclipse, you probably come across one of these issues:

  • fighting layouts
  • fidgeting with margins
  • pushing pixels
  • etc…

You probably also came up with some hack to add borders to composites to help with these issues. Well, at least I did.

Why am I bringing this up? Well a few days ago, Simon Archer and I were discussing how new GridLayout() can be bad since it sets default margins and how it can be difficult for people to realize this amongst other layout issues. To ease some of these issues and stop the madness of duplicating debugging utilities, Simon and I decided to start a new work area in PDE called Picasso. The purpose of the Picasso work area is to provide a utility to help UI debugging. Picasso does this by painting the workbench in funny ways to aid debugging 🙂

The screenshot above shows Picasso painting the preferences page’s composites. Picasso also allows you to hover over widgets and provide some raw debug information.

How do I use Picasso? Simply grab the code from the PDE Incubator and launch some runtime workbenches. Or you can build yourself a version of the Picasso plug-in and drop it in your application to see what’s going on.

Note, Simon and I are just providing Picasso as a utility for people to use, we don’t have crazy plans on maintaining it unless the community steps forward with patches and ideas. It’s just a work area that maybe useful to some.