More flexible tool window layouts

Hi,

Is it possible to add a feature request to increase the flexibility of tool window layouts?

1) Make tool windows closable - you can see the demand for this on StackOverflow.

2) Customisable tool window shortcut keys.

Thanks,
Lawrence

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1) which ones bother you? always or just in some projects?
2) use Settings|Keymap to (re-)assign shortcuts in Main Menu|View|Tool Windows

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Hi Yann,

Thanks for answering the 2nd request! This just leaves us with:

1) Make tool windows closable - you can see the demand for this on StackOverflow.

2) Customisable tool window shortcut keys.

This will always vary between developers, and sometimes, even between projects. I personally only use the following windows:

  • Project
  • SBT Console
  • Run
  • Event Log


Although if I were to start writing more Java, I'd probably use the Maven Projects window more.

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The problem is that some toolwindow (e.g. Maven, Ant) are currently displayed always in order to be able to add support for the corresponding tool.
Hiding such functionality in less obvious places (e.g. menu) has many cons, while irrelevant toolwindow button (for the current project) can safely be ignored by users.

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Surely 'Safely Ignore' implies 'Safely Hidden'?

I'm certainly not suggesting equivalent functionality needs to be placed in the menus, but rather the functionality should not consume visual real-estate if it's not being used.

In Visual Studio, if you close a tool window, you just click View > Name of tool window, and it appears again.

It's a concept people have learnt since early versions and has therefore become intuitive. Most of those tool windows are the single source for the functionality they provide, but people are still happy to hide them if it produces a more relevant IDE.

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While VS's approach works, IMHO it has drawbacks
- tool windows availability/layout can change from project to project due to hidden elements
- one has to learn that some toolwindow might be hidden (initially) and where to find to enable them

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- tool windows availability/layout can change from project to project due to hidden elements

I'm not sure if I understand what is meant by 'hidden elements', but I agree that layouts are global in VS and have to be re-jigged on a per-project level, if the user so desires. However, if I am not mistaken IntelliJ also only supports a single default layout, so the point seems moot? Forgive me if the layouts are in fact persisted on a project level - I won't have spotted it as I only use one layout :p

- one has to learn that some toolwindow might be hidden (initially) and where to find to enable them

This has never been a problem for me. After installing any new plugin, the tool window is always visible on startup. Therefore, if I close it, then I will also know how to re-open it.

I can only see this to be a valid argument in the cases where someone inherits a workstation w/ the IDE installed and is unfamiliar with the plugin they are trying to find (i.e. not aware that it's functionality is in a tool window). However, if they've used the plugin before, then can they really be unfamiliar with it? They would know that they used to interact with it via a tool window, and will consequently know where to find it.

Maybe in the case where they have never used the plugin, its tool window is hidden, and someone says to them 'you need to use XYZ plugin', then maybe we have a potential for confusion - however, the trade-off seems acceptable, and that same collegue (or the web page / screenshot they are reading) would tell them where to find it.

Please could you provide a counter-example?

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+1 to Lawrence.

I also would like to close (hide) some Tool Windows I don't really need. I had to install additional plugin to configure the list (i.e. http://plugins.jetbrains.com/plugin?pr=idea&pluginId=1489), but with v13 it does not hide the windows at IDE startup, so I have to click additional button. It is really annoying...

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+1 for Lawrence. I have used Netbeans, Eclipse, and Visual Studio for years. I am fairly new to IntelliJ as I here it is so much better than Netbeans and Eclipse. So far I am agreeing. But I will admit that having to have my screen cluttered with so many tool windows without the ability to clean up my primary view that I stare are for 10+ hours a day is going to drive me away from IntelliJ. Give us the ability to hide those windows from the all the sidebars.

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JavaJeff wrote:

Give us the ability to hide those windows from the all the sidebars.


I'm not sure if you mean hide the buttons or hide the windows. If the latter, just in case you are not aware of it, the Hide All Windows / Restore Windows toggling actions (mapped to Ctrl+Shift+F12 by default, or in the menu via the Window > Active Tool Window submenu) do give you a convenient way to hide all windows and then go back to your last set of open windows. Add the Restore default Layout action (Shift+F12 or Window > Restore Default Layout) action, and you have a fair bit of control. Note that you can set the default layout via Window > Store Current Layout as Default and it will save the open/closed status as well as the tool window button positions.

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I mean the prior. Hide (Do not show) specific buttons along the sidebar. To name a few: IDETalk, Web, Database, Favorites, JavaEE:App, etc. Someone suggested removing the plugin. That worked for IDETalk and a few others I had but some of these I have to have the plugin. I just never use the tool window, EVER. So why would I want a button for a tool window that I will never (or maybe once every 2 years) use there for my eyes to filter through to get to the ones I do use? Someone suggested to move the ones I don't use to the bottom of the list. If I ever told a customer of my application to live with it and just move it to the bottom I would get a stern talking to by my boss. Especially for something so simple.

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Gotcha. You may want to vote for the issue IDEABKL-3654 an option to hide 'tool window' buttons

I agree the tool bars are getting a bit cluttered. As an FYI, I think there is going to be some focus on this by JetBrains. Based on this thread comment and the comments in the the bug ticket IDEA-117613 Gradle: tool window is missing after the update, they are starting to hide buttons for tool windows that are not applicable or in use. The gradle button was the first to be dealt with... but was done as they were making (major) changes to that plug-in. So it's hard to say based on that and the linked to comments if hiding unused buttons is a proactive effort, or just something that will be addressed when other changes are made to plug-ins and tools. (If the latter, I doubt the Ant tool button would ever get address - lol)

As for some history... I've been using IDEA for 11 years now (since version 3). Back then there were only about 8 or 10 total tool windows total (the "main stays" like debug, run, todo, project, etc). Almost all were used on every project. Back then, it made sense to show even unused ones as it added little clutter and acted as an "advertising" for features you might not otherwise discover. However, as features were added, the number of buttons grew with a pretty large explosion in the past 2 or 3 years. Hopefully it is something they can address soon.

JavaJeff wrote:

Someone suggested to move the ones I don't use to the bottom of the list.

I agree that that is not a "solution". But it is a workaround to help for now. You could even move them all to an used bar such as the top one (which by default is not visible since no buttons are placed on it. Of course, that steals some real estate, unless you hide your buttons (see below). Another workaround is to reassign the keyboard short cuts (0-9) to cover your 10 most used windows (Settings > Keymap) and/or assign other shortcuts to buttons. Then use keyboard shortcuts to access the tool windows. That way visible clutter is not as much of an issue. Additionally, you can hide all the tool window button bars via either the Tool_Window_Buttons_hide_show.png button in the very bottom right, or via the menu View > Tool Buttons. Hit Alt twice, holding it down the second time, to make the buttons (temporarily) visible. (I'm not sure what it is on a Mac; likely the Option key twice.) I personally hide the buttons and use keyboard shortcuts to save on real estate, reduce visual clutter, and reduce mouse usage.  Again... just some workarounds to ease the pain. I know they are not the desired solution. Overall IDEA is a phenomenal IDE. Hopefully this particular shortcoming -- one of its very few IMHO -- doesn't deter you from taking advantage of all its other great features.

p.s. - welcome to the IntelliJ IDEA community :)

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