Eclipse IDE Menus should be “Sticky”

Posted by bob korbus on 23rd November 2009

Eclipse Menus (1)In the Eclipse IDE, submenus are difficult to access with the mouse.  This problem applies to many software applications…

Say you want to create a new Java Application in the Eclipse IDE (Interactive Development Environment-an application programmers use to write software more easily, hereinafter referred to as just “Eclipse”.

The menu selection to do this is on a submenu of the File menu which, in turn, is on the Eclipse main menu which lays horizontally across the top of the Eclipse screen (File, Edit, Run, Source…).

When you click on the “File” main menu item the file submenu drops its options down vertically below “File”.  From there if you slide down and hover over the 1st submenu item, “New”, you see the following.  The “New” menu item is highlited in blue and a submenu for the new menu item appears to the right side of the File menu.  The “New” submenu is the box to the right with the  options “Java Project”, “Android Project”, “Project”, etc. (continued below)

Eclipse Menus (1)

To select “Java Project” off the submenu you simply have to move your mouse over to “Java Project” like this and click right?: (continued below)

Eclipse Menus (2)


Like a backpacker crossing the stream on a fallen log, lean too far to one side or the other on you way across and you’re doomed!  In this case, drift upward with the mouse on your way to clicking “Java Project” and you “fall off” the “New” menu item and lose it like this: (continued below)

Eclipse Menus (3)

By drifting above the “New” menu item on your way to “Java Project” you’ve lost the “New” menu entirely and inadvertantly selected the “Navigate” menu off the main menu.

OK, say you drift off the bottom of the “New” menu item on your way to “Java Project”.  Here’s what you get: (continued below)

Eclipse Menus (4)

Whoa!  Now you’ve lost the “New” menu and inadvertantly gone to “Open File” menu item.  This situation is better, though, because at least you haven’t lost the “New” menu item above (Why?  Because you’re still in the “File” parent menu”) and you can move your mouse back up and get back on.  (In fact, until this problem gets fixed, it’s safer for you to drift down as you go to the right, then return to “New” just before moving to the right to click “Java Project”.)

Solution: OK, so what to do?  There’s a simple solution to this problem.  If you click on “New” right after you move your mouse to it you will see that it does nothing.  That’s good because that means that that functionality is available (i.e. the functionality of clicking on a menu item that has a submenu to the side).

The solution, then is make use of that functionality to make the “New” menu “stick” in place when you click on it in order to freeze everything until you can click on “Java Project” over to the right.  That’s not something you or I can do but if you know someone who’s on the Eclipse IDE development team , please give ’em a call and tell them to fix this right away!

Microsoft products and Google Chrome browser have another solution that works pretty well.  The side menu doesn’t disappear immediately if you mouse off the “New” menu item.  Instead, the side menu remains for about 1/2 second before disappearing.  This is enough time to get the mouse on it and prevent it from going away.  The downside to this solution is that it also delays the rendering of the submenu for the next menu item as you scan down a menu with your mouse.

Can someone out there name an application that’s better?  Other ideas?


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