There are a number of changes to the Eclipse platform in Eclipse 3.0. Many of the changes take place behind the scenesfor example, when resources are changed, auto-builds now occur in the background so you don't have to wait, and there's a new Progress view that lets you keep track of those changes. Disabled features can now be uninstalled to free disk space (select Help Software Updates Manage Configuration, turn off the disabled feature filter, and select Uninstall from the context menu of the disabled feature to uninstall it).
Some of the changes are more evident, however. One of the most handy changes is that you can now use regular expressions in the File search page. Select Search File to open the dialog you see in Figure 13-9note the new "Regular expression" checkbox.
Figure 13-9. Searching with regular expressions
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Not familiar with regular expressions? Click the "Regular expression" checkbox and press F1 for an overview of how to use regular expressions to match text.
You can also edit files outside the workspace now, using the new File Open External File menu item, which opens the dialog you see in Figure 13-10. Select a file and click Open to open it in an external editor.
Figure 13-10. Opening an external file
The annotations that appear in various editors are also being elaborated in Eclipse 3.0. In Eclipse 2.1, there are 6 such annotation types that can be customized (such as problems and warnings), but in the Eclipse 3.0 Window Preferences Editors Text Editor preference page, there are now 12, as you can see in Figure 13-11.
Figure 13-11. Customizing annotations
A major focus in Eclipse 3.0 is greater usability. A number of dialogs are being redesigned to make them easier to use; for example, the new Customize Perspective dialog (Window Customize Perspective) appears in Figure 13-12. The checkboxes and display in this dialog make working with it far simpler than before.
Figure 13-12. The new Customize Perspective dialog
The Eclipse team is also tackling the Eclipse learning curve. It's not clear how this will shake out, but here's what they're saying now:
Users who are new to an Eclipse-based product can find their first experiences with it overwhelming, even daunting. The initial experience would be improved if a product could preconfigure the workbench to show only the subset of function that a new user really needs; welcome pages could be personalized for particular users roles or levels of experience.
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The Eclipse team is definitely recognizing that the Eclipse learning curve is steep. In Version 3.0, there's a new emphasis on having Eclipse train new users with active help links and F1 help.
There are many other proposed changes to the Eclipse platform as wellhere's a sampling:
Support splitting in text editors to let users view two sections of text at once.
Store user settings and preferences independently of workspaces so they can be used across many workspaces.
Allow plug-ins to be added and removed dynamically, without having to restart Eclipse.
Allow plug-in deactivation to lessen the load on system resources.
Add a security model that can be used by all plug-ins, including user authentication.
Use the XML support in J2SE 1.4 instead of the Xerces plug-in.
Port SWT to 64-bit operating environments.