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Force Eclipse To Use Local Javadocs For Context-Sensitive Help

Set up local Javadocs for JRE and external JAR components.
By V. Subhash

I dug the depths of the Internet to find this tip. It surely was worth the effort.

The Eclipse IDE provides context-sensitive help if you hover the mouse pointer over keywords. Usually, the help content is downloaded on demand from the Net. If you are offline, the help will look something like this.

It need not be like this. Eclipse can use a local copy of the help. (Download Java SE 6 Documentation from Oracle.com). The download is a zip file. You can use it as it is or can extract it to some folder.

Context-Sensitive Help For Java API Docs

The difficulty is not in making Eclipse use the local help. It is difficult doing it right. Like this.

  1. From the menu, select Window » Preferences to load the Preferences dialog box.
  2. From the sidepane, select Java » Installed JREs.
  3. From the listed JREs, select the name of the current JRE and click the Edit button to launch the Edit JRE dialog box.
  4. In this dialog box, select all the listed "JRE system libraries" and click the Javadoc Location button to launch a Javadoc For … dialog.
  5. In the Javadoc For … dialog, specify the location of the API docs. You could select the API zip file or the folder containing the index.html and package-list files (in the folder where you extracted the API docs zip file).

After that, the help will be loaded from the local copy. Next, let us make context-sensitive help work for third-party components.

Context-Sensitive Help For Third-Party Java Components

The third-party Java components that we like around here at Gnostice is PDFOne (for Java™). To make Eclipse use the help that we ship with the product, try these steps.

  1. Right-click the jar in Project Explorer and select Properties.
  2. On the sidepane of the Properties for … dialog box, select the Javadoc Location property.
  3. On the right, select the Javadoc URL option and specify the location where the PDFOne API docs are available. If you click the Browse button and select the directory, Eclipse will re-format the pathname to support the file:// protocol.
  4. Click OK to close the dialog.

Finally, help is at hand. Smiles everywhere.

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