OT, but I started it
and no-one's answered my original post, so I might as well have a go at replying...
The following is not written as a rant, merely as a recounting of my experiences with this, because I seem to be having very different experiences to you. I'm still new to eclipse, so perhaps there's some obvious problem here that's making life hard for me? (your comment on the help was interesting, perhaps that's why I'm finding it so hard - see below?)
No idea what you're getting at here. I've been using multiple workspaces with Eclipse for at least a year and a half now.
According to the release notes, they were only properly added in version 3. Version 3 was only released a few months ago. Before that, they required manual command-line alteration on each launch. In a world where other IDE's have supported instantaneous workspace switching for a decade or more, that looks to me like an "afterthought"; it's like making a window dialog without a cancel button: perhaps in 1990 few expectations for dialog boxes had yet been established, and no-one would be surprised, but people *expect* these things in 2004.
I've never had a problem with them. The IDE is incredibly intuitive to use, and things are usually sensibly named.
No problems with the IDE *once it's running*. My issues are with installing it and configuring it. There is a clear multiple-personality-disorder going on here: at runtime it is - as you say - very intuitive; but pre-install (i.e the website, as you point out, but also the download page etc - whihc has no release notes, no install guide, etc), and install are generally appalling, and a lot of parts of config are bad too (although, as noted, there are some diamonds in the rough).
Installation is painless,
Um. Go to the download page. It tries to get you to use a mirror. Go to the mirror. You are presented with ... some random (non-standard names) directories and no help. Drill down a bit, eventually (if you're lucky and picked the "right" directories) you find a massive directory with something like 50 (more?) alternative downloads all claiming to be installable versions of eclipse. For linux, you have GTK or Motif, SDK or not, JDT or not, and probably more (although I gave up at that point and just went to debian, looked for the filesizes of what debian installs when you install "eclipse" and took the files with those filesizes give or take 5%).
This is spectacularly crap. It just looks like they don't WANT you to use eclipse. It reminds me of the worst of the hardcore anti-social political open-sourcers that give their colleagues a bad name by openly saying things like "if you need to ask idiot questions you are not skilled enough / don't deserve to use the software so I won't help you". I simply cannot imagine why the eclipse project presents a portion of it's public face in a way that is so redolent of that attitude.
configuration is just a matter of wading through a plethora of dialogues changing the (rather sensible) defaults. If you need to refer to the docs, you'll find a huge amount of info on the website.
Help kept either doing nothing or else stealing a web browser and displaying an error page. Was it connecting to the eclipse website? I have no idea. No other internet problems here. Crap. Crap crap crap.
Config uses the SWT. Which is crap - most of the help screens have NO SCROLLBARS which means there are some options that are almost impossible for me to change because they have been laid out off the edge of the canvas and clipped away. This is on a 1400x1050 screen - not small! - with fonts scaled as if it were approx 1024x768 or perhaps closer to 800x600.
In contrast, only one dialog in the GUI has ever had this problem (the create-new-class for JUnit has too many tickbox options that disappear off the bottom).
I used to work at IBM in development, and I filed bugs against a project I was on because one of the prima-donna (arsehole) programmers had made the GUI entirely with non-resizable components and hadn't bothered anywhere to put in scrollbars unless they were necessary on HIS personal workstation. At one point he came storming into my office personally (this only ever happened once in my time there - it was pretty rare) and had a go at me for filing bugs on the fact that the entire software was unusable on 800x600 monitors. This was last century, when 800x600 was even more common than today, and the software was major server software where the admin was often done on low-spec machines rather than high-spec PC's.
It was quite a common problem, and it seems that it has persisted into eclipse: arrogant programmers with massive monitors who have a bizarre belief that normal people don't deserve to use their software and should be less skinflint and buy larger monitors.
Sorry. That turned into a rant. But it does really piss me off that a problem that was solved many years ago still comes back to haunt us. Even more so that SWT is supposed to be better than Sun GUI's and yet repeatedly produces far worse GUI's.
That long? Wow, must have been an off-day for you.
I kept doing what seemed normal from all other apps I use and it kept merely telling me what my new keycombo was *already* bound to, deselecting the action (so I had to go and find the damn thing again). Clicking "remove" on the current binding made a blue triangle appear next to the name, and nothing else. WTF!
This is non-standard crap; if you are bold (or arrogant) enough to defy common standards, you *have* to make an effortlessly idiot-proof GUI. Eclipse configuration throws several common standards out the window and then uses a complex non-intuitive GUI with no help.
FYI I had one hour previously managed to reassign a shortcut in just 10 seconds or so. But I kept trying to repeat my previous actions without success. God only knows what minor subtle mistake I was making. Sob.
If it tells you that keypress is already bound, hit backspace and try something else. Save, rinse and repeat.
See? that's not standard. Vast majority of software if you "hit backspace" it will bind backspace. The standard approach is you click, then you press any set of keys, which are instantly bound, and then you click OK. Eclipse throws away the standard for no apparent benefit.
From a usability perspective, I don't give a **** what action the key is already bound to, except perhaps to popup a dialog and say "would you like to bind that thing to something else? Or simply unbind it entirely? Or have one keypress bound to two things?" (If I understand correctly, eclipse bindings are context-sensitive, so it can do the simultaneous binding trick?)
Ah-ha! You found the "Export..." button carefully hidden on every single Preferences dialogue, right next to the "Import..." button. They really should make these things harder to find.
It's a grey button. Next to 4, 5, sometimes more grey buttons. It's not obvious, it's not set apart from the rest, and it's not on every dialog (I agree it's on most, but I think it isn't on all of them - for instance, one of the most obvious places of all, IIRC it's not on the code-formatting editor. Or ... maybe it is, but it gets cut off my screen because of their hardcoded no-scrollbars?).
The standard approach is to have multi-level config. You have "global" settings and you have "local" settings and the config is sensibly split by an intelligent person between those things. Again, this is a standard - it's what people are used to. Eclipse doesn't do this at all. Why, then, would it be "obvious" that you need to look for an export button (which most software *doesn't need* to solve this problem, and hence doesn't use)? There was nothing in eclipse anywhere to suggest that it was even possible to export sub-sections of config. Of course, eventually with random exploration I wondered what that button did, and discovered that eclipse has this feature.
As I said ... easy to use once you know that it's there, but until you do there's nothing to make you think it is there, so you don't look for it.