Home > Eclipse development, Software Development, Testing > Writing an Eclipse Plug-in (Part 15): Custom Project: Customizing the Perspective Menus (Main menu)

Writing an Eclipse Plug-in (Part 15): Custom Project: Customizing the Perspective Menus (Main menu)

Ah! Nothing like returning to the scene of the crime.

When we were last at the crime scene we were displaying projects in the Custom Navigator in various states of openness and closedness. What could possibly be next? Well, there are a few choices:

  • Customize the Custom Perspective so our current capabilities are available in the main workspace menu, toolbar and Customize Perspective window.
  • Add navigator popup menus to do things like New, Copy and Properties
  • Display information in the project structure

Even though I expect to create a Form-based editor to hide the ugliness of an XML file that is not necessarily the task of greatest import. In this post I am going to show how to add menu items to our Custom Perspective; we will customize the Custom Navigator popup menu in a future post.

We should always be implementing with the end in mind as a way of keeping extraneous features to a minimum anyway. At least that’s my story.

What (are we doing?)

There are about 7 ways to do almost anything in Eclipse. For example, if you want to open the New Wizard you could go about doing that in the following ways:

  1. Ctrl+N
  2. Main menu: File –> New
  3. Shift+Alt+N – opens the popup menu; select New
  4. Right click on a Project and select New
  5. Right click on a Folder and select New
  6. Toolbar: New button
  7. Toolbar: Java Class button: New: JUnit Test, Class, Interface, Enum, Annotation

And those were just the ones I thought of off the top of my head (okay, so maybe I tried them all first…).

So, in order to compete with all of the other plug-ins out there a plug-in developer has to make sure there are at least a minimum of ways to activate their plug-in: CRUD functionality (New, Open, Save, Delete), opening editor(s) and view(s), open the Properties window, etc.

The good news: Ctrl+N and Shift+Alt+N open the New Wizard window in every case (unless you change the key bindings) so we can safely ignore them.

The bad news: we only have a New Wizard for Custom Projects and two file types. This means that the only way to create a custom resource is either from the main menu (File –> New –> Other), Ctrl+N, or Shift+Alt+N. Since all three will activate the default New Wizard we have not gained anything.

The lesson to learn here is when you add something to the New Wizard your task list should include updating your perspective to support the:

  • Main Menu File menu
  • Toolbar
  • Customize Perspective window

Notice how the only thing this will do is make your existing behavior available in more places. Not a bad thing, just kinda extraneous; convenient for the user, feels like busy work for the developer.

You could also decide to add your GUI functionality to all of the perspectives, but beware: each perspective is specific to the task at hand. Adding the ability to do random things in arbitrary perspectives is bad form. Add functionality to specific perspectives as appropriate (what that means will vary with the capability you are implementing). Adding plugin.xml to a COBOL project doesn’t really mean anything. The road to menu pollution is paved with good intentions. Don’t be afraid to create custom perspectives where you can just go to town adding whatever you want with impunity.

So the tasks for the next few blogs are to add:

  • In the main menu: add Custom Projects, Schema, and Deployment files to File –> New
  • In the Toolbar: add a toolbar group for the above 3 items
  • In Customize Perspective: add the ability to enable/disable all of the above

In the Customize Perspective window adding the ability to enable/disable the above capabilities means:

  • Toolbar Visibility: Custom Project Element Creation (enable by default)
    • Custom Project
    • Schema File
    • Deployment File
  • Menu Visibility: File –> New, (already available, enable by default)
    • Custom Project
    • Schema File
    • Deployment File
  • Command Group Availability: Custom Project Element Creation (enable by default)
  • Shortcuts (affects Menu Visibility; enable by default)
    • New
      • Custom Project
      • Schema File
      • Deployment File
    • Open Perspective (Affects main menu Windows –> Open Perspective)
      • Resource (available, but not enabled)
    • Show View (Affects main menu Windows –> Open View)
      • Custom Plug-in Navigator (available, but not enabled)

How (are we doing it?)

In the main menu: add Custom Projects, Schema, and Deployment files to File –> New

Adding New Wizard entries onto the menu menu is done completely by configuration (my favorite).

  1. Open up plugin.xml for customplugin
  2. Go to Extensions–> Add –> perspectiveExtension and click Finish (yes, you could skip this step and use the existing perspectiveExtension entry)
  3. Change
    • targetID: *


    • targetID: customplugin.perspective
  4. Right click on customplugin.perspective (perspectiveExtension) –> new –> newWizardShortcut
  5. Select newWizardShortcut and enter:
    • ID: customplugin.wizard.new.custom
    • The above is the id of the New Custom Project Wizard entry under org.eclipse.ui,newWizards –> Custom Project (wizard)
  6. Perform steps 4 and 5 for the Schema File (wizard) and Deployment File (wizard)
  7. Save plugin.xml

To make them appear in all of the perspectives change (do not try this at home. I am a trained professional):

  • Extensions –> perspectiveExtension –> targetID: customplugin.perspective


  • Extensions –> perspectiveExtension –> targetID: *

Remember, only you can prevent menu pollution.

As a wonderful side-effect the Customize Perspective window has the three New wizard entries entered automatically. Start the runtime workbench, open the Customize Perspective window (Windows –> Customize Perspective), select Menu Visibility and open File –> New.

In addition select the Shortcuts tab of the Customize Perspective window and see that for Submenu New the Shortcut Category has Custom Wizards selected and the three wizards are already checked.

The Toolbar tab and the Command Groups Availability tab are both devoid of entries for our Custom Project. Are we going to take care of that now? Well…no. Next time. Really. I know you’re disappointed, but if you push me I’ll make sure you get a lump of coal.

What Just Happened?

Configuration. Nothing like it for tedious tasks.

How much code did we write: none. It is going to be a good holiday.

Well, that’s it for this entry. It is Sunday, the holidays are getting closer and I was lucky to get this post out.

Next time: Adding the New Wizard functionality to the Toolbar. Maybe. If I get a Sega R-360.

Yuletide Felicitations!

  1. nm
    November 22, 2010 at 11:22 am

    When I used the newWizardShortcut in the perspectiveExtension, I noticed that it added those wizards to the navigator’s New submenu.
    I am using Eclipse 3.6, is that expected behaviour?

  2. cvalcarcel
    April 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Which New submenu? The one in the main menubar or the New button? Read part 16 and let me know if that is what you mean.

  3. ogranada
    January 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Hello, I follow the tutorial to make my own perspective but the Customize Perspective window don’t appear, I use Eclipse for RCP and RAP Developers
    Version: Indigo Service Release 1
    Build id: 20110916-0149


    • cvalcarcel
      January 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      Have you tried downloading the solution and seeing if it works? It may be easier to modify the code then fighting a bug that refuses to stand still.

  4. Radhakrishna
    June 22, 2016 at 5:23 am

    Can you please tell me how to develop one custom folder export. When I click on export on a folder in my project that folder should be converted to .lib file

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