Tasktop working with Microsoft to improve Eclipse on Windows 7

by Mik Kersten, October 28th, 2009

I spent the early years of my career with MacOS and then Linux as my primary OS. When the focus of my work moved to tool building, I decided that I needed to use the OS that was most common in the tools’ target audience. In the Eclipse ecosystem, that’s Windows, which captures more than three quarters of Eclipse IDE downloads.

The great thing about Eclipse is that architecturally, thanks to the amazing SWT framework that IBM created, Eclipse provides a native experience on your OS of choice. But last April, when I moved my primary OS to the Windows 7 RC, I noticed two things. The first was a feeling reminiscent of when I first started using Windows XP early 2001. Windows 7 was slick, responsive, and brought the desktop client to a new level of refinement. The second observation was that Eclipse and Tasktop, which I spend the majority of my time in, looked like dated Windows XP applications.

Today we’re happy to announce that Tasktop is working with Microsoft to help make Eclipse look and feel like an exemplary Windows 7 application. It is great to see Microsoft supporting this effort, since it will impact a broad range of users of the Eclipse IDE, as well users of commercial Eclipse-based IDEs such as the SpringSource Tool Suite IDE, and Eclipse RCP applications such as Tasktop Pro for Windows. Read more about the Microsoft initiative behind this on Vijay Rajagopalan’s post on the Microsoft Interoperability blog.

The majority of Eclipse’s current Windows 7 interoperability comes from the previous efforts of the Eclipse SWT teams and from the backwards compatibility of Windows 7. So you can happily run Eclipse on Windows 7 today. This allows us to focus entirely on leveraging the new features in Windows 7 and on look-and-feel enhancements. Here are a couple of highlights of the initial scope of the effort. Note that all contributions will be made to Eclipse.org under the EPL.

Taskbar Progress (Eclipse bug 293228)

Windows 7 provides a new visual representation of progress on taskbar icons. This feature removes the need to Alt+Tab to an application just to check on the status of a long-running job, such as a download. The plan is to integrate this with Eclipse progress in order to allow some key jobs, such as a full builds and runtime launches, to indicate their status on the taskbar. We already have a working prototype of this functionality, which I’ll show later today when I arrive at Eclipse Summit Europe.


Taskbar Jump Lists (Eclipse bug 293229)

The redesigned Windows 7 taskbar allows applications to expose frequently used features or files. We plan to incorporate this with Eclipse commands and actions that will benefit from quick taskbar based access.


We have some additional enhancements planned, including updating the widget colors and styling to match the Windows 7 look. SWT walks a very careful line in terms of leveraging native widgets, following accessibility guidelines and using desktop themes. Enhancing that experience would not be possible without the technical expertise of the Microsoft Windows and Eclipse SWT teams, whom we have to thank for the high quality Eclipse on Windows experience that we have today. Thanks to this new open source collaboration, what we’ll soon have is the icing on that cake.

If you’re interested in tracking progress, or chiming in with what else you would like to see implemented to streamline the Eclipse experience on Windows 7, refer to Eclipse bug 293226 and its subtasks.

12 Responses to “Tasktop working with Microsoft to improve Eclipse on Windows 7”

  1. 451 CAOS Links (caostheory) 's status on Wednesday, 28-Oct-09 09:35:39 UTC - Identi.ca Says:

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  2. Tweets that mention Tasktop Blog » Blog Archive » Tasktop working with Microsoft to improve Eclipse on Windows 7 -- Topsy.com Says:

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  3. Life at Eclipse » Blog Archive » This Week’s Announcements Says:

    […] Soyatec and Tasktop for their announcements yesterday regarding Eclipse and Silverlight, Azure and Windows 7. It is great to see Microsoft providing support to the ecosystem to ensure Eclipse remains a great […]

  4. Microsoft adds more choices for developers targeting its Azure cloud | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com Says:

    […] they will be developing updates to the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) to take advantage of new features in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Tasktop will contribute enhancements to the Eclipse IDE that will be available under the Eclipse […]

  5. Andrew Eisenberg Says:

    Congratulations. This is great news for Eclipse (and for Tasktop). Will you be making changes to SWT to support Windows 7?

  6. Mik Kersten Says:

    > This is great news for Eclipse (and for Tasktop). Will you be
    > making changes to SWT to support Windows 7?

    …and STS, and the Groovy/Grails tools, and AJDT, and all those other Eclipse and RCP based applications that have over 3/4 of their Eclipse users on Windows. It is indeed great news. Yes, a good portion of the changes will be done directly to SWT. Thankfully Shawn Minto, the Tasktop dev leading this effort, is an SWT and Windows wiz. We’ve already got the progress integration working, and I had a chance to demonstrate it at Eclipse Summit Europe.

  7. Java desktop links of the week, November 2 | Jonathan Giles Says:

    […] For Eclipse users who develop in Windows 7, you may be interested to see the work being done by Tasktop/Microsoft on improving Eclipse to better integrate with some of the new features in Windows 7. […]

  8. hombre Says:

    Congratulations. This is great news for Eclipse (and for Tasktop). Will you be making changes to SWT to support Windows 7?

  9. Mik Kersten Says:

    Yes, some the changes will be happening to SWT as well as other parts of the Eclipse UI. More details are on Eclipse bug 293226 and its subtasks.

  10. Dave Says:

    Sounds pretty cool. I’ve still got to finish reading into the details. not enough hours in the day.

  11. r4i kort Says:

    Congratulations! This is significant commitment from Microsoft. Look forwad to attending your session in the evening.

  12. Tasktop Blog » Blog Archive » Eclipse Foundation Board Elections Says:

    […] Tasktop Blog: Tasktop working with Microsoft to improve Eclipse on Windows 7 […]

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