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Eclipse e4. This tutorial gives an overview about the Eclipse 4 application platform. This tutorial describes the creation of Eclipse 4 based applications, e.g., Eclipse RCP applications. It describes the modeled application concept and the new programming model which is based on annotations and dependency injection.

1. Accessing and extending the Eclipse context

1.1. Accessing the context

You can place objects directly in the IEclipseContext hierarchy to make them available to other model objects.

To access an existing context you can use dependency injection if the relevant object is managed by the Eclipse runtime. This is the case for all model objects. The following code demonstrates how to get access to the active IEclipseContext, in which the handler is called.

package com.example.e4.rcp.todo.handlers;

import org.eclipse.e4.core.contexts.IEclipseContext;
import org.eclipse.e4.core.di.annotations.Execute;

public class ShowMapHandler {
        public void execute(IEclipseContext context) {
                // add objects to the active local context injected into
                // this handler
                // ...


If a model object implements MContext, you can use dependency injection to get the model object injected and call the getContext() method to access its context. For example, MPart, MWindow, MApplication and MPerspective extend MContext.

The following code demonstrates how to get the MApplication injected and how to access its IEclipseContext.

package com.example.e4.rcp.todo.parts;

import javax.annotation.PostConstruct;
import javax.annotation.PreDestroy;

import org.eclipse.e4.core.contexts.IEclipseContext;
import org.eclipse.e4.ui.model.application.ui.basic.MPart;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Composite;

public class TodoDetailsPart {

        public void createControls(Composite parent,
                MApplication application) {

                // getting the IEclipseContext of the application
                // via the MApplication object
                IEclipseContext context = application.getContext();

                // add or access objects to and from the application context
                // ...


1.2. Objects and context variables

You can add key / value pairs directly to the IEclipseContext.

Adding objects to a context can be done via the set() method of the IEclipseContext interface. The following example creates a new context via the EclipseContextFactory.create() factory method call and adds some objects to it. Via the setParent() method call, the new context is connected to the context hierarchy.

public void addingContext(IEclipseContext context) {

        // create a new IEclipseContext instance
        IEclipseContext myContext = EclipseContextFactory.create();

        // add objects to context
        myContext.set("mykey1", "Hello1");
        myContext.set("mykey2", "Hello2");

        // adding a parent relationship

        // alternatively you can create a new
        // context which has a parent/child
        // relationship via the
        // context.createChild() method call


Such a context can be used to instantiate an object via the Eclipse framework.

A context variable is a key which is declared as modifiable via the declareModifiable(key) method call.

public void addingContext(IEclipseContext context) {
        // putting in some values
        context.set("mykey1", "Hello1");
        context.set("mykey2", "Hello2");

        // declares the named value as modifiable by descendants of this context

        // if the value does not exist in this context,
        // a null value is added for the name


Context variables are added to particular levels of the IEclipseContext hierarchy and can also be modified using the modify() method rather than set() method of the IEclipseContext. The modify() method searches up the chain to find the IEclipseContext defining the variable. If no entry is found in the context hierarchy, the value will be set in the IEclipseContext in which the call started.

If the key already exists in the context, then modify() requires that the key has been set to modifiable with the declareModifiable() method, if not, the method throws an exception.

You can add key/value pairs and Context variables at different levels of the context hierarchy to supply different objects in your application.

1.3. Replacing existing objects in the IEclipseContext

Instead of adding new objects to the IEclipseContext hierarchy, you can also override existing objects by using the same key.

You can change behavior of your application by overriding certain entries in the context. For example, you can modify the context of the MWindow model element. Its IEclipseContext is originally created by the WBWRenderer class. By default it puts an instance of the IWindowCloseHandler and the ISaveHandler interface into the local context of the MWindow model element. The IWindowCloseHandler object is responsible for the behavior once the MWindow model element is closed. The default IWindowCloseHandler prompts the user if he wants to save dirty parts (editors with changed content). You can change this default implementation by replacing the object in the context. The following example shows an @Execute method in a handler implementation which overrides this class at runtime.

public void execute(final Shell shell, EModelService service,
        MWindow window) {
        IWindowCloseHandler handler = new IWindowCloseHandler() {
                public boolean close(MWindow window) {
                        return MessageDialog.openConfirm(shell,
                        "You will loose data. Really close?");
window.getContext().set(IWindowCloseHandler.class, handler);
You could use this example in your life cycle handler and subscribe to the UIEvents.UILifeCycle.APP_STARTUP_COMPLETE event. In the event handler you would replace the IWindowCloseHandler handler in the context.

1.4. Accessing the IEclipseContext hierarchy from OSGi services

OSGi services are not directly part of the IEclipseContext hierarchy and are created by the OSGi runtime. The OSGi runtime does not support dependency injection based on the @Inject annotation.

The Eclipse framework registers the implementation of the MApplication interface also as an OSGi service. This allows OSGi services to use the OSGi API to access the MApplication and its context via the getContext() method. As the EModelService is part of the MApplication context you can search for other context elements via it.

1.5. Model add-ons

To participate in dependency injection with your custom Java objects you can add them as model add-ons to the application model. The classes referred to by the model add-ons can access and modify the IEclipseContext or interact with other services, e.g., the event system.

The following screenshot shows a custom model add-on registered in the application model.

Registering a model add-on

The following code shows an example implementation for the model addon class. This addon places an object into the IEclipseContext

package com.example.e4.rcp.todo.addons;

import javax.annotation.PostConstruct;

import org.eclipse.e4.core.contexts.IEclipseContext;

public class MyModelAddon {
        public void init(IEclipseContext context) {
                // injected IEclipseContext comes from the application
                context.set("test1", "Hello");

1.6. RunAndTrack

The IEclipseContext allows you via the runAndTrack() method to register a Java object of type RunAndTrack.

A RunAndTrack object is basically a Runnable which has access to the context.

If the context changes, the RunAndTrack is called by the Eclipse framework. The runnable does not need to be explicitly unregistered from this context when it is no longer interested in tracking changes. If the RunAndTrack is invoked by the Eclipse platform and it returns false from its RunAndTrack.changed() method, it is automatically unregistered from change tracking on this context.

Such a RunAndTrack object allows a client to keep some external state synchronized with one or more values in this context.

2. Extending the objects available for the dependency injection

2.1. Creating and injecting custom objects

Using dependency injection for your custom objects has two flavors.

  • You want to create objects which declare their dependencies with @Inject based on a an IEclipseContext context. See chapter: Using dependency injection to create objects for details.

  • You want the Eclipse dependency container to create your custom objects automatically on demand and then get them injected into your model objects. See chapter: Create your custom objects automatically with @Creatable and chapter: Create automatically objects in the application context with @Singleton.

2.2. Using dependency injection to create objects

Using dependency injection is not limited to the objects created by the Eclipse runtime. You can use the same approach to create an instance of a given class based on a given IEclipseContext. The given class can contain @Inject annotations. For this you use the ContextInjectionFactory class as demonstrated in the following code example.

// create instance of class
ContextInjectionFactory.make(MyJavaObject.class, context);

The ContextInjectionFactory.make() method creates the object. You can also put it into the IEclipseContext hierarchy after the creation. If you place it into the IEclipseContext of the application, the created object is globally available.

For this you can either use an existing IEclipseContext or create a new IEclipseContext. The new context object can be connected to the context hierarchy. Using a new context might be preferable to avoid collision of keys and to isolate your changes in a local context. Call the dispose method on your local context, if the object is not needed anymore.

The following code demonstrates how to create a new IEclipseContext object and to place values into it. This context can be used to create a new object.

IEclipseContext context = EclipseContextFactory.create();

// add your Java objects to the context
context.set(MyDataObject.class.getName(), data);
context.set(MoreStuff.class, moreData);

// dispose the context if you are done with it

The next code example demonstrates how you can connect your new IEclipseContext object with an existing context hierarchy. The factory searches the hierarchy upwards to find values, requested by the class which is instantiated.

public void createObjectInPart(IEclipseContext ctx) {
        // create a new local_ context
        IEclipseContext localCtx =
        localCtx.set(String.class, "Hello");

        // connect new local context with context hierarchy

        // create object of type MyJavaObject via DI
        // uses the localCtx and searches upwards for required objects
        MyJavaObject o = ContextInjectionFactory.make(MyJavaObject.class,

        //TODO do something with the "o" object

The ContextInjectionFactory.inject(Object, IEclipseContext) method allows you to perform injection on an existing object. For example, if you created the object with the new() operator, you can still run dependency injection on it.

2.3. Create your custom objects automatically with @Creatable

If you want the Eclipse framework to create your custom objects for you, annotate them with @Creatable. This way you are telling the Eclipse DI container that it should create a new instance of this object if it does not find an instance in the context. The automatically-generated instance is not stored in the context.

If you have a non default-constructor, you must use the @Inject annotation on the constructor to indicate that Eclipse should try to run dependency injection on it.

For example, assume that you have the following domain model.

package com.example.e4.rcp.todo.creatable;

import org.eclipse.e4.core.di.annotations.Creatable;

public class Dependent {
        public Dependent() {
                // placeholder
package com.example.e4.rcp.todo.creatable;

import javax.inject.Inject;

import org.eclipse.e4.core.di.annotations.Creatable;

import com.example.e4.rcp.todo.model.ITodoService;

public class YourObject {
        // constructor
        public YourObject(Dependent depend, ITodoService service) {
                // placeholder

As the Eclipse framework is allowed to create instances of the Dependent and the YourObject class, it can create them if an instance is requested via dependency injection. In this example the arguments of the constructors can be satisfied. If no fitting constructor is found, the Eclipse framework throws an exception.

Assuming that you have defined the ITodoService OSGi service in your application, you can get an instance of your YourObject class injected into a part. The following example code demonstrates that.

// add this for example to your playground part
public void setYourObject(YourObject object) {

2.4. Create automatically objects in the application context with @Singleton

If the object should be created in the application context, use the @Singleton annotation in addition to the @Creatable annotation. This ensures that only one instance of the object is created in your application.

package com.example.e4.rcp.todo.creatable;

import javax.inject.Inject;

import org.eclipse.e4.core.di.annotations.Creatable;

import com.example.e4.rcp.todo.model.ITodoService;

public class YourObject {
        // constructor
        public YourObject(Dependent depend, ITodoService service) {
                // placeholder

3. Learn more about Eclipse 4 RCP development

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. You find this tutorial and much more information also in the Eclipse 4 RCP book.

4. About this website

5. Eclipse 4 resources

5.1. vogella GmbH training and consulting support


The vogella company provides comprehensive training and education services from experts in the areas of Eclipse RCP, Android, Git, Java, Gradle and Spring. We offer both public and inhouse training. Whichever course you decide to take, you are guaranteed to experience what many before you refer to as “The best IT class I have ever attended”.

The vogella company offers expert consulting services, development support and coaching. Our customers range from Fortune 100 corporations to individual developers.

Copyright © 2012-2016 vogella GmbH. Free use of the software examples is granted under the terms of the EPL License. This tutorial is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany license.

See Licence.