Hi-DPI Eclipse screenshots


A picture is worth a thousand words.

Recently I was writing a paper based on EMF-IncQuery, and I wanted to include some screenshots. For good reasons, a 300 dpi photo was recommended, but that represents quite large resolutions for reasonably sized images. Although I couldn’t always get this resolution, but I found some nice tricks to use for later.

Eclipse always allowed configuring some fonts – some time ago I experimented with the theming capabilities of Eclipse 3.x, and could increase a few font sizes, but some widgets such as list or tree viewers did not support such theming.1

GMF-based editors, such as the Papyrus UML editor or the Ecore Diagram editor provide support for exporting the diagram in PDF format – a format that retains (most2) graphical information of the diagram in a vector-graphic format, usable for inclusion in LaTeX documents.

The multitouch zooming support for Zest graphs also helped a lot for screenshots, as I could simply use all available screen area to get a nice shot. Even for graphs that do not contribute their Zoom Managers to the user interface.

Finally, OSX already supports Hi-DPI modes for its entire operating system (dubbed Retina Display), that can also be enabled on non-Retina displays with some hacking: basically by downloading the Quartz Debug program (details for Lion and Mountain Lion) I can reduce the visible resolution to 960×540 pixel on my Full HD monitor. It also supports the use of one monitor as HiDPI and the other as normal – that comes quite hand with applications that do not support HiDPI mode (such as Eclipse out of the box, or Firefox).

https://i0.wp.com/cubussapiens.hu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/high-dpi-2.png?resize=380%2C300 380w, https://i2.wp.com/cubussapiens.hu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/high-dpi-2.png?w=672 672w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 85vw, 300px" /> OSX supports HiDPI modes

One big issue was that Eclipse 4.2 does not support HiDPI resolutions out of the box. Luckily, this was already evaluated in Bugzilla, and in a corresponding Stack Exchange entry.  Basically, the info.plist file3 of the Eclipse.app has to be updated to state it supports High DPI mode, and then the Application itself moved in order to OSX detect the changes.

As a result: Eclipse sees that it has a limited amount screen estate, while in practice it uses 4 times as many pixels. While it is not usable at all for everyday programming, it helped a lot for screenshot creation.4

https://i1.wp.com/cubussapiens.hu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/uml-tree-editor.png?resize=150%2C150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 220px) 85vw, 220px" /> A low DPI version of a small screenshot
A HiDPI version of the same editor

Alltogether, there are various ways to create high definition screenshots in Eclipse. It helps knowing them and using accordingly. For this reason, I am curious what other ways are there to create screenshots with high resolution – how do you do it?

  1. Note to myself: I want to experiment with the 4.x theming capabilities, and update the presentation theme to work with the CSS-based themes of e4. []
  2. However, I did see some interesting glitches related to the background settings of Ecore Diagrams… []
  3. By the way, the XML syntax of the plist files is something awful – it reminds me of the parameter handling in shell scripts or console applications – odd numbered parameters are the keys while even ones are the values. Not that XML allows the definition of attributes or inlined elements – but who cares? []
  4. Except when using Skitch – a nice screenshot manager app. But it does not know about the underlying HiDPI mode, and always created a low DPI shot. []

EMF-IncQuery: First public release

One of the most common tasks when working with models is executing queries on them (e.g. finding a set of corresponding model elements for code generation or finding violations for model constraints) – quite often repeatedly. To allow effective calculation and recalculation, an index of the EMF model has to be created and maintained during editing operations.

EMF-IncQuery is a tool we are developing at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics try to solve this issue by providing a runtime library for these indexes, and additionally an Eclipse-based tooling to specify and debug such queries. I have already blogged about a validation framework based on this technology, and my collegue, István Ráth gave a short presentation in last year’s EclipseCon Europe Modeling Symposium.

However, previous tool demos were held using a tooling and query language originally created for the VIATRA2 model transformation framework, so it was somewhat hard to use. Since these demonstrations we created a new, Xtext-based tooling using a modified query language that fits the EMF model specifications better.

https://i2.wp.com/cubussapiens.hu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/eiq-editor.png?resize=500%2C266 500w, https://i0.wp.com/cubussapiens.hu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/eiq-editor.png?w=927 927w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 85vw, 300px" /> The Xtext-based editor with type information hovers.

Another new user interface component is the Query Explorer: a view that allows evaluating developed queries without using the generated code in a new Eclipse instance, while allowing the reuse of existing domain editors.

https://i2.wp.com/cubussapiens.hu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/query-explorer.png?resize=500%2C185 500w, https://i0.wp.com/cubussapiens.hu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/query-explorer.png?w=936 936w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 85vw, 300px" /> The Query Explorer can be used to evaluate patterns using existing model editors.

As for examples, since last year we developed two new case studies for EMF-IncQuery:

  1. Derived features allow the creation of EMF derived features based on incremental queries as backend;
  2. We also created connectors for JFace databinding for query results allowing query-backed automatically updating user interfaces.

Even better, this new version is available since Wednesday – for a detailed release notes see the announcement post in our homepage. If you want to download this release, you can use the Eclipse Marketplace client (at least if search is working as expected – today we managed to not find our software there using the built-in search 🙁 ). Alternatively, EMF-IncQuery is available from our update site: http://viatra.inf.mit.bme.hu/update/incquery/

Alltogether, the new EMF-IncQuery release marks an important point: we believe at this point, it is ready for use. For me, this is an important checkpoint, as in the last year I put a considerable effort of getting this rolling.

As for the future, EMF-IncQuery is on its track to becoming an Eclipse project: the creation review is scheduled for the 10th October 2012. After the creation, we plan to migrate our codebase, and have of course further ideas on how to improve the system to be usable in more and more cases.

Lesson of the day: Beware the indirect dependencies in Eclipse 4.2

Executive summary: If you cannot move or minimize your views in Eclipse 4.2, always check whether the org.eclipse.e4.ui.workbench.addons.swt bundle is present in your run configuration.

A view misses its minimize icon

Today Eclipse surprised me with a nice feature. I tried to reconfigure my runtime workbench to create some screenshots, but I couldn’t. The views were missing the minimize button, and dragging view parts between groups did not work.

I had some minor issues with the new workbench model, so first I tried to check everything is at its base setting. I reset the perspective, closed all perspectives, restarted the workbench, but nothing helped. Finally, I noticed a short error message in the Error log:

Unable to retrieve the bundle from the URI:

That provided the required hint: to conserve memory, I usually start a runtime Eclipse with a reduced set of plug-ins – possibly a dependency is missing. Looking at the uri from the error message, I found, that the org.eclipse.e4.ui.workbench.addons.swt plug-in was not added to the Run configuration. I checked the corresponding box, and voilá – everything worked as expected.

What makes this case more interesting is that the built-in dependency validation report no issues. I had my own debugging sessions because of missing dependencies, so I set all my Run configurations to validate every dependency at startup. This means, this plug-in is not needed for executing the platform (technically true), however, when it is missing, it strongly reduces the usability.

Alltogether, what I am missing is some kind of higher-level validation that could report such issues. But in the meantime, I publish this, hoping, someone else finds it useful.

Java primitive type comparison – A wat look

Not long ago, we had a not too nice issue related to mismatch between int and long variables. As the concrete variables were coming from 1) a model created by others and 2) another model created by us, the solution did not appear to be simple.

We were thinking, if we could compare the variables by value consistently without the concrete type equality, we would not need to support both int and long numbers in our model, so we asked our collegue, Gábor Bergmann to experiment a bit with the comparison.

Sadly, the result is that there is no reasonable way to compare longs and integers by value. However, we found a truly nice wat moment, almost fitting to the issues presented by Gary Bernhardt in a talk called WAT at CodeMash 2012 (or instead of the video, you could have a look at http://www.shopify.com/technology/5370262-wat-a-funny-look-at-ruby-and-javascript-oddities).

Because of Java is statically typed, most inconsistencies of Javascript do not apply here. However, the implicit contracts of Java are sometimes broken, just as the following code snippet shows (it is Gábor’s work entirely, I only changed only the white spaces):

Basically, when comparing primitive types and their boxed values, if you have two different types, all hell’s might break loose. Sometimes two values are considered equal when using ‘==’ but not when using Object.equals. Even worse, transitivity can also be broken.

I cannot think about any possible reason for this behavior, but we could reproduce it issue consistently across different computers using Java 1.6, so this appears to be according to be designed that way.

If someone could provide some reasonable explanation, I would be glad for it. Then we could learn something nice instead of just laughing a bit. Otherwise, be careful with primitive comparison…

Multitouch gesture support for Zest graphs

When I read Jan Köhnlein’s post about multitouch gestures support in their graph viewer, I was thinking, these gestures would be a nice addition to the Zest visualization library. In addition to that, it could be my first new feature as a Zest committer, so I opened bug 371152.

So I looked into the multitouch API in SWT (btw. it is really to use, check snippet 353). Luckily, only a gesture listener had to be added, that is already supported by the Zest graph widget.

I thought about what gestures could be universally supported in the Zest graph, and found that scrolling is already supported, magnification is easy to implement, and for rotation I found a possible use.

Today, I finished the implementation, and created a short video presentation that shows the features in action. See the Youtube video: http://youtu.be/cVVxOIwHN7s

Additionally, it is possible to replace the built-in gestures by creating the graph with a specific style bit, and adding other gesture listeners manually as below:

//Disabling default gestures
Graph graph = new Graph(parent, ZestStyles.GESTURES_DISABLED);
//Adding own gesture listener
graph.addGestureListener(new GestureListener() {

  public void gesture(GestureEvent e) {
    switch (e.detail) {
      // Do nothing

I believe the base implementation of the gesture support is useful, but I am open to change it if someone has a better idea.