Monday, August 27, 2012

Taming those Java editors on MacOSX

Today, I learned that you can open multiple Eclipse instances in MacOSX like this

$ open -n -a Eclipse

This comes pretty handy if you want a separate workspace per large project that has dozen or so modules (try importing the Camel or SpringFramework project source and you will see what I mean!)

The -a is for name of an application to open, and -n means to open with new instance.

Finding a programmer friendly text editor on MacOSX

Despite I use Eclipse for most of my large Java projects, I still often find myself the need of a plain text editor. I use plain text editor for most of my scripting programming. I also use it for notes taking, text file browsing, or even writing Blog post in markdown format!

I guess for most programmers, choosing an Editor is a very personally thing. So I am not here to convert anybody. However, for those who never heard of jEdit, you ought to give it a try. It's open source, full features, programmers friendly text editor that works across many of OS systems consistenly. It works because it's Java based! If you use one of decent computer now a day, the performance is excellent as well.

However, for some strange reason, the jedit installer on MacOSX doesn't comes with a normal java command line script wrapper. The only thing I can see is the actual binary under /Applications/jEdit.app/Contents/MacOS/jedit. We can certainly run this as full jedit command, but then it always liter the console with strange GUI warnings. So a better way to run it is actually to use the open command.

$ open -a jedit $HOME/.bash_profile

Or you can add this in your .bash_profile file:

function jedit(){ open -a jedit "$@" ; }

Now you can use jedit command on the terminal.

Some of my favorite features of jEdit

  • It's open source and has very active community of users.
  • It works across MacOSX, Windows and Linux Desktop.
  • Support many common programming language syntax highlights.
  • Support multi columns editing.
  • Support rich feature search (reg ex, hyper-search, all buffers search, search and replace etc.)
  • Support multi buffers tabs editing.
  • Supports Macro recording and scripting.
  • Support plugin extension and there are many external plugins available (eg: XML formater, Diff viewer, SFTP client/editing, etc).

Openning other stuff on MacOSX

The little open command can open not just application, but it can also open directories or files by extension associations. For example, to configure any .properties files to be open by jEdit, try the the following.

  1. Use Finder to browse and find one of properties
  2. Right click, "Open With" > "Other..."
  3. Choose "jEdit" under Applications folder.
  4. Enable "Always Open With", then click Open button.

This change should affect your Terminal open command as well, and if you run open my.properties, your jEdit should pop up.

You can find more options by running it without any options, and it will print you full help page.

Usage: open [-e] [-t] [-f] [-W] [-R] [-n] [-g] [-h] [-b <bundle identifier>] [-a <application>] [filenames] [--args arguments]
Help: Open opens files from a shell.
      By default, opens each file using the default application for that file.  
      If the file is in the form of a URL, the file will be opened as a URL.
Options: 
      -a                Opens with the specified application.
      -b                Opens with the specified application bundle identifier.
      -e                Opens with TextEdit.
      -t                Opens with default text editor.
      -f                Reads input from standard input and opens with TextEdit.
      -F  --fresh       Launches the app fresh, that is, without restoring windows. Saved persistent state is lost, excluding Untitled documents.
      -R, --reveal      Selects in the Finder instead of opening.
      -W, --wait-apps   Blocks until the used applications are closed (even if they were already running).
          --args        All remaining arguments are passed in argv to the application's main() function instead of opened.
      -n, --new         Open a new instance of the application even if one is already running.
      -j, --hide        Launches the app hidden.
      -g, --background  Does not bring the application to the foreground.
      -h, --header      Searches header file locations for headers matching the given filenames, and opens them.