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Eclipse Plug-in Developer Guide
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Workbench Core Expressions

The workbench uses core expressions (See org.eclipse.core.expressions.definitions for a description) for enabledWhen and activeWhen for handlers, programmatic activation of contexts, and for visibleWhen for menu contributions. Core expressions are also used as conditionals for certain property page contribution and object contribution expressions. In most cases, the workbench provides the IEvaluationContext that command core expressions are evaluate against.

The IEvaluationService provides methods that allow other clients and extension point builders to hook into the workbench core expressions.

Using Core Expressions in the Workbench

Core expressions are used declaratively in the plugin.xml files, and programmatically with some of the services provided in the workbench.

Note: Elements from workbench extension points that use core expressions, like enabledWhen, take one child core expression element. They do not and their elements together.

Declarative Expression Examples

  1. Basic IStructuredSelection
  2. IResources and the Package or Project Explorer
  3. Active Contexts
  4. Active Views and Editor
  5. ActionSets and Contexts

Basic IStructuredSelection

Most of the tree or table like viewers return an IStructuredSelection. For example, the Project Explorer and Package Explorer.

When using the default variable you must treat it as an java.util.Collection. That means using <count> or <iterate>. The expression below returns true if all of the selected items are Person.

<enabledWhen>
    <iterate ifEmpty="false">
        <instanceof value="org.eclipse.ui.examples.contributions.model.Person"/>
    </iterate>
</enabledWhen>

This is equivalent to:

<enabledWhen>
    <with variable="selection">
        <iterate ifEmpty="false">
            <instanceof value="org.eclipse.ui.examples.contributions.model.Person"/>
        </iterate>
    </with>
</enabledWhen>

The behaviour of iterate is:

  • iterate ands the results of evaluating its child expressions for each element in the collection, unless you set the operator attribute.
  • iterate has the same semantics for its children as <and>
  • iterate with an operator of and returns true if the collection is empty, unless you set the ifEmpty attribute.

If you want to be enabled if only one Person is selected, you can include a count element.

<enabledWhen>
    <with variable="selection">
        <count value="1"/>
        <iterate ifEmpty="false">
            <instanceof value="org.eclipse.ui.examples.contributions.model.Person"/>
        </iterate>
    </with>
</enabledWhen>

The same expression using the default variable:

<enabledWhen>
    <and>
        <count value="1"/>
        <iterate ifEmpty="false">
            <instanceof value="org.eclipse.ui.examples.contributions.model.Person"/>
        </iterate>
    </and>
</enabledWhen>

IResources and the Package or Project Explorer

The Package Explorer is a mixture of org.eclipse.core.resources.IResource, org.eclipse.jdt.core.IJavaElement and other classes. If you are trying to find all of the "*.java" files, you would need to:

  1. Iterate through the default variable.
  2. Adapt the selection elements to your class, in this case org.eclipse.core.resources.IResource.
  3. Use one of the org.eclipse.core.resources property testers to test the org.eclipse.core.resources.IResource property.
<enabledWhen>
    <with variable="selection">
        <iterate ifEmpty="false">
            <adapt type="org.eclipse.core.resources.IResource">
                <test property="org.eclipse.core.resources.name"
                         value="*.java"/>
            </adapt>
        </iterate>
    </with>
</enabledWhen>

When working with the current selection and property testers it does not always make sense to use adapt. In these situations it is a good practice to check that the object under test is a valid type for that property tester:

<enabledWhen>
    <with variable="selection">
        <iterate ifEmpty="false">
            <instanceof type="org.eclipse.core.resources.IResource"/>
            <test property="org.eclipse.core.resources.name"
                     value="*.java"/>
        </iterate>
    </with>
</enabledWhen>

Active Contexts

If your handler should be enabled when your view or editor activates a context, you can use the activeContexts variable. Contexts are defined in the org.eclipse.ui.contexts extension point and activated programmatically using the org.eclipse.ui.contexts.IContextService.

<enabledWhen>
    <with variable="activeContexts">
        <iterate ifEmpty="false" operator="or">
            <equals value="org.example.view.context"/>
        </iterate>
    </with>
</enabledWhen>

Active Views and Editor

For handlers that are to be contributed to a specific view or editor, you can use activeEditorId and activePartId in the activeWhen clause. This is an example for a handler that should be active in text editors:

<activeWhen>
    <with variable="activeEditorId">
        <equals value="org.eclipse.ui.DefaultTextEditor"/>
    </with>
</activeWhen>

The following clause is for a handler that's active while in the Project Explorer:

<activeWhen>
    <with variable="activePartId">
        <equals value="org.eclipse.ui.navigator.ProjectExplorer"/>
    </with>
</activeWhen>

ActionSets and Contexts

As of 3.3 all org.eclipse.ui.actionSets generate a context with a parent of org.eclipse.ui.contexts.actionSet. Contexts with href='javascript:executeCommand("org.eclipse.ui.window.preferences(preferencePageId=org.eclipse.ui.preferencePages.Keys)")'> command link, Keys Preference Page General > Keys preference page.

Showing an actionSet activates the matching context. This allows contributed commands to "join" actionSets, like the debug launch actionSet.

<enabledWhen>
    <with variable="activeContexts">
        <iterate ifEmpty="false" operator="or">
            <equals value="org.eclipse.debug.ui.launchActionSet"/>
        </iterate>
    </with>
</enabledWhen>

Note: commands that are enabled or visible with actionSets are not currently displayed in the Customize Perspective Dialog.

Variables Provided in the Workbench

The IEvaluationService provides the global selection as the default variable (in a java.util.Collection) for expression evaluation. It can either be empty, have one entry (if the ISelection was something like an ITextSelection), or have the contents of an IStructuredSelection.

The workbench publishes variables in ISources that can be used in the <with/> element and can be retrieved from the IEvaluationContext. Some of the variables may not be set, depending on the current application context when they are evaluated. The following table explains some of the more commonly used ones:

Name Type Description Since
activeContexts A java.util.Collection of java.lang.String

This is a collection of the active context IDs as strings. Most commonly used with <iterate/>, <count/>, and <test/> with a combined org.eclipse.core.expressions.PropertyTester. In 3.3 action sets are mirrored by contexts whose parent is org.eclipse.ui.actionSet, and the active action sets show up in the list of active contexts.

3.2
activeShell org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Shell

The currently active shell. It can be a dialog or workbench window shell.

3.2
activeWorkbenchWindowShell org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Shell

The active workbench window shell.

3.2
activeWorkbenchWindow org.eclipse.ui.IWorkbenchWindow

The active workbench window.

3.2
activeWorkbenchWindow.isCoolbarVisible java.lang.Boolean

Reports coolbar visibility for the currently active workbench window.

3.3
activeWorkbenchWindow.isPerspectiveBarVisible java.lang.Boolean

Reports perspective bar visibility for the currently active workbench window.

3.3
activeWorkbenchWindow.activePerspective java.lang.String

Reports the name of the current perspective of the active workbench window.

3.4
activeEditor org.eclipse.ui.IEditorPart

The currently active editor. This is remembered even if the editor is not the currently active part.

3.2
activeEditorId java.lang.String

The ID of the currently active editor. This can be used for expressions on the editor type.

3.2
activeEditorInput org.eclipse.ui.IEditorInput

The input of the currently active editor. This is useful for property testers.

3.5
activePart org.eclipse.ui.IWorkbenchPart

The active part, which can be the same as the active editor.

3.2
activePartId java.lang.String

The ID of the currently active part.

3.2
activeSite org.eclipse.ui.IWorkbenchPartSite

The site of the currently active part.

3.2
selection org.eclipse.jface.viewers.ISelection

The current global selection. It is often used with <test/> elements with org.eclipse.core.expressions.PropertyTester, in programmatic core expressions, and in 3.3 with <iterate/> and <count/> elements.

3.2
activeMenu A java.util.Collection of java.lang.String

This is the list of IDs of the showing context menu. Examples are like #TextEditorRuler or a part ID. Most commonly used with <iterate/>, <count/>, and <test/> with a combined org.eclipse.core.expressions.PropertyTester.

3.2
activeMenuSelection org.eclipse.jface.viewers.ISelection

This is a selection that is available while a context menu is showing. It is the selection from the selection provider used to register the context menu, usually from getSite().registerContextMenu(*). It is usually the same as the selectionvariable, but not always.

3.3
activeMenuEditorInput org.eclipse.jface.viewers.ISelection

This is a selection that is available while a context menu is showing. It is the selection from the editor input, usually if includeEditorInput was set to true during getEditorSite().registerContextMenu(*).

3.3
activeFocusControl org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Control

A control that has focus and has been registered with the IFocusService.

3.3
activeFocusControlId java.lang.String

The ID of a control that has focus and has been registered with the IFocusService.

3.3
org.eclipse.core.runtime.Platform org.eclipse.core.runtime.Platform

The runtime Platform class is available, for use with property testers like org.eclipse.core.runtime.isBundleInstalled and org.eclipse.core.runtime.product.

3.3

Property Testers Provided in the Workbench

The workbench provides a couple of property testers that can be used in core expressions. The expression defines a property attribute and then takes a combination of args and a value that is tester implementation dependent. The property attribute is the combination of the namespace and property name. For example, to test an IResource name the property would be org.eclipse.core.resources.name.

Namespace Type Implementation
org.eclipse.core.runtime

org.eclipse.core.runtime.Platform

org.eclipse.core.internal.expressions.propertytester.PlatformPropertyTester
Property Description

product

Test the id of the currently active product.

isBundleInstalled

Test if a given bundle is installed in the running environment. Use the args attribute to pass in the bundle id.

Namespace Type Implementation
org.eclipse.core.resources

org.eclipse.core.resources.IResource

org.eclipse.core.internal.propertytester.ResourcePropertyTester
Property Description

name

A property indicating the file name (value "name"). "*" and "?" wild cards are supported.

path

A property indicating the file path (value "path"). "*" and "?" wild cards are supported.

extension

A property indicating the file extension (value "extension"). "*" and "?" wild cards are supported.

readOnly

A property indicating whether the file is read only (value "readOnly").

projectNature

A property indicating the project nature (value "projectNature").

persistentProperty

A property indicating a persistent property on the selected resource (value "persistentProperty"). If two arguments are given, this treats the first as the property name, and the second as the expected property value. If only one argument (or just the expected value) is given, this treats it as the property name, and simply tests for existence of the property on the resource.

projectPersistentProperty

A property indicating a persistent property on the selected resource's project. (value "projectPersistentProperty"). If two arguments are given, this treats the first as the property name, and the second as the expected property value. If only one argument (or just the expected value) is given, this treats it as the property name, and simply tests for existence of the property on the resource.

sessionProperty

A property indicating a session property on the selected resource (value "sessionProperty"). If two arguments are given, this treats the first as the property name, and the second as the expected property value. If only one argument (or just the expected value) is given, this treats it as the property name, and simply tests for existence of the property on the resource.

projectSessionProperty

A property indicating a session property on the selected resource's project. (value "projectSessionProperty"). If two arguments are given, this treats the first as the property name, and the second as the expected property value. If only one argument (or just the expected value) is given, this treats it as the property name, and simply tests for existence of the property on the resource.

Namespace Type Implementation
org.eclipse.core.resources

org.eclipse.core.resources.IFile

org.eclipse.core.internal.propertytester.FilePropertyTester
Property Description

contentTypeId

A property indicating that we are looking to verify that the file matches the content type matching the given identifier. The identifier is provided as the expected value.

Namespace Type Implementation
org.eclipse.core.resources

org.eclipse.core.resources.IProject

org.eclipse.core.internal.propertytester.ProjectPropertyTester
Property Description

open

A property indicating whether the project is open (value "open").

Namespace Type Implementation
org.eclipse.core.resources

org.eclipse.core.resources.mapping.ResourceMapping

org.eclipse.core.internal.propertytester.ResourceMappingPropertyTester
Property Description

projectPersistentProperty

A property indicating a persistent property on the selected resource's project. (value "projectPersistentProperty"). If two arguments are given, this treats the first as the property name, and the second as the expected property value. If only one argument (or just the expected value) is given, this treats it as the property name, and simply tests for existence of the property on the resource.

Namespace Type Implementation
org.eclipse.ui

org.eclipse.ui.IWorkbench (not currently available)

org.eclipse.ui.internal.activities.ActivityPropertyTester
Property Description

isActivityEnabled

Test if the activity in args is enabled.

isCategoryEnabled

Test if the category in args is enabled.

Namespace Type Implementation
org.eclipse.ui.workbenchWindow

org.eclipse.ui.IWorkbenchWindow

org.eclipse.ui.internal.OpenPerspectivePropertyTester
Property Description

isPerspectiveOpen

Tests if any perspective is open.


 
 
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