3.0 Debug Platform Change Notes

This document describes important changes in the 3.0 debug platform, relative to the 2.1 release.

New Features

Extensible Launch Modes

The debug platform supports an extensible set of launch modes. Releases prior to 3.0 only supported two launch modes - run and debug. The debug platform now provides an extension point for contributing new launch modes - org.eclipse.debug.core.launchModes. The debug platform now defines (contributes) three basic launch modes - run, debug, and profile. Other clients may contribute new launch modes. The launch manager (ILaunchManager) has additional API to retrieve all launch modes, and a human readable label for each launch mode.

The debug platform has a new extension point to support the contribution of a launch delegate for a specific launch configuration type and launch mode - org.eclipse.debug.core.launchDelegates. This allows launch configurations to be extended by third parties, to support new launch modes. For example, a client could contribute a launch delegate that launches a Java Application in profile mode (currently, the SDK does not provide a profiler).

For backwards compatibility, the launch delegate supplied by a launch configuration type extension is used for the launch modes specified by the launch configuration type. A launch delegate supplied for a specific mode, is used only for that mode.

The debug platform has added an optional element (launchMode), to the definition of a launch tab group extension - (org.eclipse.debug.ui.launchConfigurationTabGroup), to support the contribution of a set of tabs for a specific launch configuration type and launch mode. This allows third parties to extend an existing launch configuration user interface. For example, a client contributing a launch delegate to profile a Java Application would also contribute a set of tabs to configure the profiler. The launchMode element defines a perspective attribute to specify the default perspective associated with the launch configuration type and mode. This controls the perspective that is switched to/opened, by default, when a configuration is launched in the associated mode. For example, a client contributing a profiler may also contribute a profiling perspective that should be displayed when an application is profiled.

For backwards compatibility, the tab group contributed for a launch configuration type (specifying no launch mode), is used for all launch modes for which a specific launch tab group is not contributed. Thus, when a mode is not specified by a tab group, the tab group effectively becomes the default tab group.

Extensible Debug Events

The debug platform supports an extensible set of debug events. A debug event kind of MODEL_SPECIFIC has been added in the 3.0 release to indicate an application specific debug event. When a debug event of kind MODEL_SPECIFIC is created, the detail code in the event is client defined. The source of the event (debug element that generated the event) identifies the debug model from which the event was generated. The debug platform and user interface ignores model specific debug events.

A data field has been added to debug events to allow clients to store application specific data in debug events.

Editor Positioning and Custom Annotations

In release 3.0, a debug model presentation can position and annotate editors opened by the debugger for stack frames. This is done by implementing the new interface IDebugEditorPresentation on the applicable debug model presentation. When implemented, the model presentation is used as a delegate to position editors, add annotations, and remove annotations for stack frames.

Extensible Watch Expressions

In release 3.0, the debug platform provides an implementation of watch expressions. Debug models can contribute watch expression delegates if they support watch expressions. When a stack frame is selected, the associated delegate is queried to provide a value for a watch expression in the given (stack frame) context. The debug platform provides persistence, enabling, disabling, entering, and editing of watch expressions.

Process Factories

The debug platform provides an extension point (org.eclipse.debug.core.processFactories) for contributing process factories. A process factory can be used to override default process creation for a launch configuration when the debug plug-in (i.e. org.eclipse.debug.core.DebugPlugin) is consulted to create a new process. A launch configuration can reference a process factory to use when creating a process, via the launch configuration attribute DebugPlugin.ATTR_PROCESS_FACTORY_ID.

Automatic Array Partitioning

The debug plug-in now supports automatic array partitioning in the variables, which partitions large arrays into sub-ranges in the variables view. This is supported with the introduction of a new interface in the debug model representing an indexed value - org.eclipse.core.debug.model.IIndexedValue. If a value implements this interface, the variables view will automatically partition its elements as required, into sub-ranges

Logical Structure Types

Often, it is convenient to navigate complex data structures in terms of a logical structure, rather than an implementation structure. For example, no matter how a list is implemented (i.e. linked list, collection of arrays, etc.), it is often convenient to be able to view the list as an ordered collection. To facilitate the display of logical structures in the variables view, an extension point has been added (org.eclipse.debug.core.logicalStructureTypes) allowing debug models to contribute logical structures of its values, where applicable. Debug models may contribute delegates to translate raw implementation values into logical values. The variables view will display the logical values, when the option to display logical structures is turned on. More than one logical structure can be provided for a single value - the user can choose which structure to display.

Step Filters

To support step filters on all stepping functions (into, over, return), a new interface has been added to the debug platform - IStepFilters - which can be implemented by debug targets. This interface replaces IFilteredStep, which is now deprecated. The debugger provides a global toggle that turns step filters on/off for all stepping functions. Toggle actions are provided in the Run menu, Debug View context menu, and Debug View toolbar, which replaces the 'Step with Filters' action in previous releases. As well, an API is provided on DebugUITools to modify step filter enablement. It is up to debug targets to implement this new interface and to honor the step filter enablement setting when stepping. See javadoc for IStepFilters for more details.

This change maintains binary compatibility with previous releases. However, targets wishing to leverage the new function must implement the new interface.

Launch Termination Notification

A new interface has been introduced to provide a mechanism for launch listeners to be notified when a launch terminates. A launch is simply a container of processes and debug targets. When all of the contained targets and processes terminate, a terminate notification is now sent to those listeners that implement ILaunchesListener2.

Launch Delegate Enhancements

Lanuch delegates can optionally implement the new interface ILaunchConfigurationDelegate2. This allows launch delegates to provide a launch object to be used for a launch. For example, when debugging on a server a delegate could create a new launch object or may reuse an existing launch object if the server is already running in debug mode.

Retargettable Actions

The debug platform now provides retargettable actions for the following actions.

Debug implementations can plug into the retargettable actions by providing appropriate adapters for relevant editors and model objects that perform the actual operations (IRunToLineTarget and IToggleBreakpointsTarget, defined in the org.eclipse.debug.ui.actions package). A retargettable action works on the active part. First the part is asked for a target adapter. If the part does not provide an adapter, the selected objects within the part are consulted for adapters.

As well, action delegates actions are provided by the debug platform such that debug implementations can contribute appropriate actions to context menus. An editor actions delegate is provided for the run to line action, and an object action delegate is provided for toggling method breakpoints and watchpoints. See the following classes: RunToLineActionDelegate, ToggleMethodBreakpointActionDelegate, and ToggleWatchpointActionDelegate in the org.eclipse.debug.ui.actions package.

API Changes

Debug Action Groups removed

The Debug Action Groups extension point (org.eclipse.debug.ui.debugActionGroups) has been removed. In Eclipse 3.0, the workbench introduced support for Activities via the org.eclipse.platform.ui.activities extension point. This support provides everything that Debug Action Groups provided and is also easier to use (it supports patterns instead of specifying all actions exhaustively) and has a programmatic API to support it.

Failing to remove references to the old extension point won't cause any failures. References to the extension point will simply be ignored. Product vendors are encouraged to use the workbench Activities support to associate language-specific debugger actions with language-specific activities (for example, C++ debugging actions might be associated with an activity called "Developing C++").

Extensible Launch Modes

With the introduction of extensible launch modes, more than one launch delegate can exist for a launch configuration type. Releases prior to 3.0 only supported one launch delegate per launch configuration type. The method ILaunchConfigurationType.getDelegate() is now deprecated. The method getDelegate(String mode) should be used in its place to retrieve the launch delegate for a specific launch mode. The deprecated method has been changed to return the launch delegate for the run mode.

Launch Tabs & Tab Groups

Launch tab groups and launch tabs are no longer notified when a launch completes. The method launched(ILaunch) in the interfaces ILaunchConfigurationTab and ILaunchConfigurationTabGroup has been deprecated and is no longer called. Relying on this method for launch function was always problematic, since tabs only exist when launching is performed from the launch dialog. Also, with the introduction of background launching, this method can no longer be called, as the launch dialog is be closed before the resulting launch object exists.

Perspective Switching

In prior releases, perspective switching was specified on a launch configuration, via the launch configuration attributes ATTR_TARGET_DEBUG_PERSPECTIVE and ATTR_TARGET_RUN_PERSPECTIVE. With the addition of extensible launch modes in 3.0, this approach no longer scales. Perspective switching is now specified on launch configuration type basis, per launch mode that a launch configuration type supports. API has been added to DebugUITools to set and get the perspective associated with a launch configuration type for a specific launch mode.

An additional, optional, launchMode element has been added to the launchConfigurationTabGroup extension point, allowing a contributed tab group to specify a default perspective for a launch configuration type and mode.

From the Eclipse user interface, users can edit the perspective associated with a launch configuration type by opening the launch configuration dialog, and selecting a launch configuration type node in the tree (rather than an individual configuration). A tab is displayed allowing the user to set a perspective with each supported launch mode.

Generic Console

With the work for the generic console support (Bug 37263), the view id for the Eclipse (formerly debug) console has changed. This results in problems at startup such as "Could not restore workbench layout" with details that "Could not create view: org.eclipse.debug.ui.ConsoleView" for the particular perspective that contained reference to the old view id. The equivalent view id is now: "org.eclipse.ui.console.ConsoleView".
The generic console is available via the Window>Show View>Basic>Console and is used by the Eclipse debug and Ant integration.

Console Line Tracker Extension

A console line tracker (IConsoleLineTracker) can be notified when its associated console is closed (i.e. all of its streams are closed), by implementing the new interface IConsoleLineTrackerExtension. The notification indicates that no more output will be appended to the console.

Launch Configuration Tab Enhancements

Two methods have been added to the ILaunchConfigurationTab interface - activated and deactivated. These new life cycle methods are called when a tab is entered and exited respectively. Existing implementations of ILaunchConfigurationTab that subclass the abstract class provided by the debug plug-in (AbstractLaunchConfigurationTab) will maintain binary compatibility, as the methods have been added in the abstract class.

In prior releases, a tab was sent the message initializeFrom when it was activated, and performApply when it was deactivated. In this way, the launch configuration tab framework provided inter-tab communication via a launch configuration (by updating the configuration with current attribute values when a tab is exited, and updating the newly entered tab). However, since many tabs do not perform inter-tab communication, this can be inefficient. As well, there was no way to distinguish between a tab being activated, and a tab displaying a selected launch configuration for the first time. The newly added methods allow tabs to distinguish between activation and initialization, and deactivation and saving current values.

To avoid breaking the behavior of current tab implementations, the default implementation of activated, provided by the abstract tab, calls initializeFrom. And, the default implementation of deactivated calls performApply. Tabs wishing to take advantage of the new API should override these methods as required. Generally, for tabs that do not perform inter-tab communication, a correct implementation of these methods is to do nothing.

BreakpointManager Can Be Disabled

IBreakpointManager now defines the methods setEnabled(boolean) and isEnabled(). When the breakpoint manager is disabled, debuggers should ignore all registered breakpoints. The debug platform also provides a new listener mechanism, IBreakpointManagerListener which allows clients to register with the breakpoint manager to be notified when its enablement changes.

The Breakpoints view calls this API from a new toggle action that allows the user to "Skip All Breakpoints." Debuggers which do not honor the breakpoint manager's enablement will thus appear somewhat broken if the user tries to use this feature.