Orion 0.4 RC3 – New and Noteworthy

With over 200 bug fixes since our M2 milestone, it has been a busy month for the Orion team. Many of these changes are bug fixes, polish, and performance improvements that end users won’t typically notice. Here are a few noteworthy features that snuck in during our end-game:

Streamlined workflow for Plugin installation

Installing a plugin in Orion has been reduced to three clicks:

  1. Click Get Plugins in the banner at the top of any Orion page. This will take you to an external catalog of available plugins.
  2. Click Install next to the plugin you want.
  3. Back in Orion, click Submit to complete the installation.

You may not notice, but this process takes you across different web sites. The technology we’re developing to make this sort of workflow happen is some of the most exciting stuff happening in Orion. As with Eclipse, it is starting with development tools but we’re interested in seeing where else our plugin and cross-site linking architecture could be applied. Read Orion committer Susan McCourt’s detailed writeup to learn more about what’s going on under the covers.

Much of the user interface has received some polish. The rendering of command buttons has changed, and many icons have been improved. The header at the top of each page has had some tweaks too. There is a new spinning progress icon when work is happening to load dynamic content, and a new favorite (star) icon has been introduced to add the current page to your Orion favorites list.

Different Favicons per page

Each of the major Orion pages now has a different Favicon, which is the icon that appears in the browser tab. Different icons help you keep track of what’s what when you have many tabs open.

Keyboard and accessibility improvements

You can now effectively use the Navigator page with a keyboard. Use Right arrow key to expand folders, Spacebar to select, and Enter to traverse the link into a child folder or file. Left arrow on a root entry in the list will go up to the parent folder. You can use Tab to traverse to the context menu next to any file or folder, and use Spacebar to open the menu. Plenty more fixes have gone in under the covers to improve accessibility of Orion using keyboard and screen reader technology.

The recently introduced Related Pages menu has had some new entries added. In particular, when browsing a Git clone in Orion that originated from either git.eclipse.org or github.com, we provide a back-link to the web site for the remote repository.

Open Commit in Git pages

The Orion git pages now support a new command, Open Commit (Ctrl+Shift+H). This command opens a slideout where you can provide a Git commit sha1 hash. It will then open the Orion Git Commit page for that commit. From that page you can easily review and cherry-pick the change. This greatly simplifies the workflow for a developer accepting patch contributions, because they don’t have to hunt around for the branch containing the change.

Checkout selection in Git Status

You can now select one or more individual unstaged files to checkout in the Git Status page.

Faster page loads

There has been a round of performance improvements on page loading. All new icons have been converted to CSS sprites, and some aspects of page rendering have been made a gazillion times faster. We will keep pushing on this in future releases – we are well aware that performance can make or break a web application.

Editor command extension improvements

The Orion extension point that enables plugins to contribute commands to the Orion editor has had a number of improvements. The commands now have access to the URL of the resource being edited, and can be filtered to only apply on specific file content types. Nothing to see here for end users yet, but we expect to be able to do some neat things with this in our next release.

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