Learn to use the shortcuts. Seriously!
Did you know that if you need to scroll suddenly while typing, you don’t need to reach out for your mouse? Just use the Ctrl-↑ or the Ctrl-↓ key combinations to scroll up or down.
To learn more about Eclipse shortcuts, head over to TechNonStop’s tutorial on Eclipse Shortcuts.
Templates are a must-learn – there are so many out there.
For example, sysout, syserr, and systrace.
Look up Window->Preferences->Java->Editor->Templates for all the pre-defined templates available, and don’t forget to add your own!
Often, those working on a single project would like to share templates they create so that the whole team enjoys the shortcuts.
Tweaks to eclipse.ini
I’ve had a noticeable improvement in startup time and overall response times on my Eclipse installation by adding the following to eclipse.ini, at the bottom:
-Xincgc -XX:-DontCompileHugeMethods -XX:MaxInlineSize=1024 -XX:FreqInlineSize=1024
Also, tweak the Xms (initial heap size) and Xmx (maximum heap size) to higher values, depending on your RAM and the number of other running applications, or in the event that Eclipse gives you nasty “OutOfMemory” errors. 384m and 1024m respectively for Xms and Xmx work well on my 4 GB machine.
Note: The above optimizations are for Sun’s Java 7. If you use another JDK version, look up this StackOverflow.com thread for optimizations that have worked for others.
Mylyn is an excellent plugin to keep track of your TODOs. The Java EE version of Eclipse has this plugin installed, as well as others that are quite useful. Examples are the Web Page Editor for HTML editing, and the XML editor for XML editing.
Use your version control system’s plugin for Eclipse, so that code check-ins can be done from within.
The JDEclipse Decompiler plugin is useful for class decompilation.
Google’s CodePro Analytics is great to analyze and improve the quality of your code.
Eclipse color themes has a cool plugin for changing color themes.
There’s also this cool JSON Editor Eclipse Plugin.
Whatever plugins you use, ensure that you turn them off on startup. Go to General->Startup and Shutdown, and uncheck ALL plugins listed. Also, disable or uninstall the ones you don’t need.
Improve General Eclipse Knowledge
Did you know that you can use the Navigator View (rather than the Package explorer) to see all the files present, including .project files and the bin directory?
Did you know you could just paste exception stack traces into the Java Stack Trace console, and lines numbers turn into hyperlinks?
Use the documentation to keep improving your general knowledge on Eclipse, and for more tips and tricks!
Add shortcuts to related external tools
Yes, I did say 5, but here’s a bonus!
Using the External Tools Configuration window (accessible from the External Tools icon in the toolbar), add shortcuts to scripts that automate commonly run tasks.
For example, I have a script that does the following: syncs down latest code, builds it and runs the test cases after deploying the newly generated artifacts to a locally running server. Adding a shortcut to this within Eclipse has greatly eased the way I run the script and refresh my workspace after it completes.