Eclipse Text Editor Extensions (ETEE)

ETEE is an Eclipse plug-in which extends the Eclipse text editors with some extra capabilities for filtering the text using command line pipes/filters. This is a humble but powerful addition, as it immediately makes the features and flexibility of hundreds of command line tools available to the Eclispe user.

The Eclipse Text Editor Extensions is an open source project housed at the Eclipse Text Editor Extensions project at Visit the Download page for download and installation instructions.


The editor extension appear in a new Filters submenu on the context (right mouse button or Shift-F10) menu in the Eclipse text editors.

Filters context menu


 filter icon Filter
- run an external command filter on the selected text
 quote icon Quote XML Special Characters
 unquote icon Unquote XML Special Characters


 The filter icon Filter action allows you to run a Unix-like filter over the selected region. This is useful for embedding base64 encoded text in a .properties file, running a sed(1) or awk(1) script on the text, running uniq(1) to remove duplicate lines of text, sort(1) to sort the text - anything that can work on standard input/standard output.

You may also invoke the filter action with the key binding Alt-| (that is Alt and vertical bar, or Alt-Shift \).

When you select this option, Eclipse displays a dialog asking you for the name of a command to execute. Enter a command name and press Enter or click OK and the command will run, consuming the selected region of text as its standard input. When the command completes, its output replaces the selected region. If there is no selected region, the standard input for the command will be empty and its output will be inserted at the current cursor location. If you select the Direct filter output to console instead of replacing selection option, ETEE will print the output of the filter in an Eclipse Console window, replacing the last filter output, if there is any, and make the Console active.

ETEE maintains a history of commands which you can reselect by using the combo UI control in the dialog.

The command runs in its own process and inherits the environment of the Eclipse process (environment variables, etc.)

If the command executes for more than a second or two, Eclipse will display a progress dialog. You can then click on the Cancel button to cancel the operation (this will halt the command's process) before it completes, and no changes will be made to the source buffer.

You should only use commands which are true pipes -- commands which read standard input and write standard output. If you run some other command (like Notepad on Windows or xterm on Linux) the dialog will stay up as long as the command is executing, which is not what you want.

Note that the Filter operation treats the text as just that - text. It does not operate on the logical structure of a Java source file or an XML source file - it does not know the context in which you are editing text.  Thus, it is quite possible to replace a bit of valid Java or XML or other source with something that is not correct Java (or XML or...). In other words, use this command when you want to do text manipulation of the source, not symbolic manipulation. Don't use sed s/oldVarName/newVarname/g in a Java source file; for such operations, use the Eclipse JDT refactoring support instead.

See Examples for just a small sample of the power of the command line tools now callable directly from Eclipse editors.

Quote XML Special Characters

quote icon This action will convert XML special characters in the region to XML character entities.

You may also invoke this action with the key binding Alt-& (that is Alt and Ampersand, or Alt-Shift 7).

Unquote XML Special Characters

unquote icon This action is the opposite operation of Quote XML Special Characters. For example, &lt;is changed back to <.

You may also invoke the filter action with the key binding Alt-< (that is Alt and Left Angle Bracket, or Alt-Shift ,). 


This version of the plug-in works with Eclipse 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2 as well as with the Structured Source (XML, JSP, JavaScript, DTD, CSS etc.) Editors that come with Eclipse WebTools 1.0/1.0.1.