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Date: 21 FEB 2012
Author: Miloslav Metelka, Petr Somol
= Editor Bookmarks Support in NetBeans =
= Editor Bookmarks Support in NetBeans =

Revision as of 15:33, 21 February 2012

Date: 21 FEB 2012 Author: Miloslav Metelka, Petr Somol


Editor Bookmarks Support in NetBeans

Introduction - Current State

Current state: Bookmark symbol is displayed to the left of the bookmarked line. Hovering mouse over displays a tooltip with always the same text 'Bookmark'
Current state: With more than one annotation per line only one is displayed. Clicking the black arrow cycles the annotation symbols (and shows possibly hidden bookmark symbol).
Current state: Right-click on bookmark symbol opens the shared annotation menu. The bookmark submenu puts on show the three currently defined bookmark actions/shortcuts.

Existing bookmarks support in NetBeans consists of three shortcuts:

  • Ctrl+Shift+M for Toggle Bookmark on current line in the currently focused document
  • Ctrl+Shift+Comma and Ctrl+Shift+Period for cycling through bookmarks back/forward in a currently focused document. The choice of these particular shortcuts is good from UEX point of view because the respective keys carry the symbols < and >, what visually underpins the respective cycling directions.

At the moment bookmark navigation is limited to a single file only. Bookmarks are unnamed. Any number of bookmarks can be set in each file, but no shortcuts to access particular bookmarks are provided, nor it is possible to cycle across file borders. There is no view/window available to get an overview over all existing bookmarks.

Bookmarks Storage

Bookmarks are physically stored in private.properties file inside a project in which the particular source file with the bookmark resides. This is generally a desirable approach however it means that the IDE always works with bookmarks from currently opened projects only.

Use-Cases and Scenarios To Be Addressed

Navigation Across Files

Users need to navigate through bookmarks across files. Since a global list of bookmarks can become large it is desirable to have more navigation options than just cycle through previous/next bookmark.

Named Bookmarks

Some users demand to create named bookmarks which many editors support. But they also want to retain unnamed bookmarks which are faster to create and work with.

Bookmark Management

Users need to see a list of all bookmarks in a window (similarly like e.g. a list of all breakpoints). Bookmark window will enable quick navigation. Possibly it would provide also other bookmark management actions: various modes of view sorting/grouping (by name, by file, by project), renaming, search by name, enabling/disabling, adding/removing.

Bookmark Improvements Proposed for NetBeans 7.2

Updated Bookmark's Definition

In addition to the current properties of a bookmark (which is a source-file and line-number) the bookmark would newly have a name ("bookmark1", "bookmark2" etc. for unnamed bookmarks) and a shortcut consisting of a prefix shortcut Ctrl+J followed by a digit or [a-z].

Bookmark Manager

A Bookmark Manager dialog would show all the known bookmarks (from all currently opened projects). On the left there would be a table showing each bookmark's properties: name, shortcut, source-file:line-number (tooltip would show full source path). On the right there would be a preview of the code where the bookmark is located. If a new bookmark was created by Ctrl+Shift+M the dialog would preselect it when invoked so that the user can easily turn the recently created unnamed bookmark to a named one.

Updated navigation

  • Ctrl+Shift+M would toggle (an unnamed) bookmark on a current line. Possibly a warning dialog could be shown when removing a named bookmark (no warning for an unnamed bookmark).
  • Ctrl+Shift+Comma and Ctrl+Shift+Period semantics would be changed to navigate in Bookmarks History which would be similar to Jump List navigation (or a browser navigation history). A bookmark would be added to bookmark history when it gets created (by toggling) or when it's navigated explicitly (by "Ctrl+J then [0-9a-z]").
  • Ctrl+Shift+J (currently an unoccupied shortcut) would show Bookmark Manager dialog.
  • Ctrl+J then [0-9a-z] would navigate to a concrete bookmark.


Since bookmarks are stored on a per-project basis a conflict in name and shortcut may arise. Bookmark Manager dialog would warn about both conflicting name and/or shortcut by showing them in red in the table (tooltip would show conflicting bookmark description). When shortcuts would conflict the navigation would choose the bookmark from a project opened sooner.

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