Sunday Dec 11, 2005

NetBeans IDE 5.0 Easter Egg for Christmas

So, I'm quite excited about what I'm about to reveal, but I suspect that there's trouble afoot. It's quite possible that the powers that be—and usability guys like Jano Rojcek—are going to put their foot down and squash this Easter Egg before you get a chance to try it out. In other words, they might remove it from the build. I really hope that they don't, but you never know. So, this is the story: somewhere towards the end of last week, a deadline loomed—the keyboard shortcut card (available under the Help menu in the IDE) had to be finalized so that the localization team could translate it in time for the 5.0 release. While putting the final touches to this card, a number of issues were found (e.g., some shortcuts did not work, etc.). Then, while fixing these issues, a new shortcut was added. Normally (as the usability guys will tell you) this shortcut should not have been a shortcut (because only actions that you perform several times a day get to be shortcuts, all others are only menu items). However, no menu items can be added to the 5.0 release, since it's past code freeze. It's also past code freeze for keyboard shortcuts, however, these are more hidden (i.e., they have no visible representation in the user interface), so this keyboard shortcut got smuggled in to the build! And what does it do? Well, it creates an HTML file that contains the keyboard shortcuts for all the keymap profiles (i.e., 'NetBeans', 'Emacs' and 'Eclipse').

So, think about what this means: until three days ago, there was only a static keyboard shortcut card that had to be manually put together for each release, which is a situation prone to errors (see Issuezilla) and frustration (see me). Now, or, at least, unless someone decides that this shouldn't be included because it is untried, untested, and too late, you can generate a new keyboard shortcut card whenever you change a keyboard shortcut, which means that your keyboard shortcut card will always be up to date.

So, I just went to the Download page and installed the daily build from the 11th of December:

When I go to the Options window, I see (yay!) the Easter Egg shortcut:

And this is what I mapped it to:

Now, when I press Ctrl-Alt-Enter, this is what I see in the config folder in my NetBeans user directory:

And this is the content of the generated keyboard shortcut card! Cool, right? Try it out for yourself, but be quick (or use a daily build from the 11th, or maybe one or two earlier, but not earlier than one or two!), or you might find that it's been snatched away from you...


Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.


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