Running nightly Eclipse for the impatient

 

Eclipse-Icon.png

If you’re an Eclipse developer, you might consider running a nightly version of Eclipse so that you can easily test out the latest patches. Bleeding edge is the cool stuff right? It’s actually surprisingly quite stable.

The advantage of this setup is that you won’t have to re-download a new version and re-download all the plugins over and over. You just configure the thing once and just click on ‘check for updates’ once in a while.

The setup is a little bit counter intuitive. This article is not just ‘follow these steps’, but more about understanding the mechanism and workflow.

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Eclipse, Dark theme and Gtk. What Eclipse can theme and what needs to be themed by the OS.

 

About

I’m an SWT developer on the Gtk side.

Recently I’ve done a fair bit of work with Eclipse’s dark theme and Gtk’s CSS. (E.g fixing background of button and combo). As such I’ve come across what is do-able in SWT and what is not.

 

The issue with composed GtkWidgets

In SWT, we can theme individual GtkWidgets with gtk_context_add_provider(widgetProvider, css) . E.g basic labels, buttons. This works well for basic widgets.

However, some gtk widgets are composed of multiple nested widgets. E.g: GtkComboBoxText

GtkComboBoxText
— GtkToggleButton
— GtkTreeMenu
— GtkCellView
— etc..

The issue is that the CSS that we apply only get’s applied to the top-level widget and not always recursively to all it’s child widgets. (Please see 1* in appendix)

With such widgets, we can sometimes use gtk_bin_get_child() to get one of the nested components and run gtk_context_add_provider(..) on that, but this doesn’t give us access to all nested components. (bin_get_child returns only one child).
Sometimes we can hack a bit and with gtk_container_forall(..) access the child widgets that gtk_bin_get_child() does not expose.

But there is a limit as to what we can access. Some inner widgets are tucked away inside a private struct (the issue described here). As such, we have no way to apply a style context to them.

As a result, we can sometimes only apply a background color to some parts of the widget.
In the example below, we styled the Entry and the text of the menu. But the drop down button and the background of the menu cannot be styled.

MenuComboBox_2015.04.07

 

How do other Gtk Developers do it?

You might wonder, with such a limitation, how do other gtk developers get by?
Suppose you’d like to have two combo boxes, a blue and a red one. How would a Gtk Developer implement this?

To find the answer to this mystery I ventured out to the gtk+ irc channel and a guy called ‘Company’ helped me out.
To apply a theme to individual widgets in Gtk3, you would have to give them a unique class ID, then create a provider for the whole screen and select the widget based on it’s unique ID.

I wrote some native Gtk code to try it out and it worked. (In the example I assign an id ‘custom-class-123’ and then theme it from the global theme.

Technically, implementing this in SWT wouldn’t be difficult. But this would be a hack on an a somewhat epic scale. It would mean we would have 1000’s of unique CSS classes to deal with and it’s not yet obvious if it would be possible to remove styling once applied.

The main issue is that SWT’s philosophy is to style each and individual widget, there isn’t really a ‘central’ theming api. Where as Gtk3’s philosophy is to define the CSS only once and be done with it. E.g GtkComboBoxText * { background:red }  and for individual widget styling use CSS classes.

 

So what’s the deal with Check/Radio/Slider icons?

Eclipse has it’s own CSS syntax which differs from GTK. You can’t really take Eclipses’ Dark-theme CSS and just bluntly apply it to Gtk.

For example in Eclipse CSS ‘Label’ and ‘Button’ are defined, but in Gtk CSS this would need to be translated to GtkLabel and (GtkButton|GtkToggleButton|GtkRadioButton|GtkCheckButton [depending on SWT.STYLE bit]).

With that said, Eclipse CSS does not define any icons for GtkCheckButton, GtkRadioButton or sliders. As a result, we get the icons from the underlying GtkTheme if any are defined.

So when the OS has dark icons, Eclipse looks like this: (note the dark check-boxes):

And when the OS has bright icons, Eclipse looks like this:

But if the theme doesn’t define icons, then we draw our own, then it looks like this:

 

Conclusion: So how do we get Eclipse to look nice?

In essence, Eclipse’s theming doesn’t fully live on it’s own. It takes some things from the OS Gtk theme (e.g radio icons, Menu backgrounds in Combo boxes etc).
As such, For best Dark-Eclipse looks on Gtk, you should run Eclipse under a Dark theme like Adwaita-dark and use the ‘dark’ theme from Eclipse’s Appearance settings.

With the latest nightly build, you can make Eclipse look like this:
Eclipse dark looks

Hope it helps.

 

 

Appendix

1** I don’t have a good source that css is not applied recusivley. This is an observation from experimentation. As test, you can run any gtk app, open gtk inspector (Ctrl+shift+d) (if you have gtk3.14), then select a widget, on the 2nd set of tabs select ‘custom CSS’. From GtkComboBoxText you can’t theme the inner GtkToggleButton and GtkEntry from GtkComboBoxText. You can only theme them if you select the inner widgets directly. But the problem is that we don’t have access to those from SWT.
cannot_theme_gtkcomboboxtext_2015.04.07

If you spot an error in any of the text above, or have general feedback, please post a comment, it would be of much help.

How to tell if you are running Eclipse on Gtk2 or on Gtk3

When troubleshooting Eclipse bugs, I sometimes ask if you are running eclipse on gtk2 or gtk3.

Usually I can tell visually if Eclipse is running on Gtk2 or Gtk3, but this changes depending on your system theme.

In the about section

As Alexander Kurtakov pointed out and described in Lar’s article ,

Help -> About -> Installation Details -> Configuration Tab.

Look for something like:
org.eclipse.swt.internal.gtk.version=3.14.12

It’s usually somewhere near line 84 ish. But you can copy the text and search for it in your text editor.

Note, if this line is missing altogether, you’re (very most likely) running Eclipse on Gtk2.

See what version is on your system

You can find out which version of gtk is installed on your system by running pkg-config (you might need to install it first). This gives you an indication of which version of gtk eclipse might be using.

pkg-config --modversion gtk+-3.0

Force Eclipse to use either gtk2 / gtk3

You can force Eclipse to use a certain version of gtk:

#Gtk3 forced:
export SWT_GTK3=1
eclipse

#Gtk2 forced:
export SWT_GTK3=0
eclipse

Under gtk3, the entry in the about section should be present like: org.eclipse.swt.internal.gtk.version=3.14.12

 

[edit 2016-09Sep-08Thu]
This is actually by far the most visited blog entry on my blog (20k+ views)
I reference this page quite often, I made a short/memorable url for it: http://bit.ly/gtk2orgtk3