6. Advanced Features

6.1. Cross-Plattform Tooling

6.1.1. Git Client

If you are looking for a git client that works cross-platform we recommend to use Fork.

6.1.2. Browser Plugins

There are tons of helpful browser plugins out there and it might be a matter of personal taste what you like to have installed. However, as we are heavily using github we want to promote octotree. In case you also work with ZenHub you might want to install the Zenhub Browser Extension.

6.2. Windows Tooling

6.2.1. Integration into Windows-Explorer

After you have setup your devonfw-ide on a windows machine, you already have windows-explorer integration out-of-the-box. Just right-click on the folder you would like to open in a terminal and choose from the context menu:

  • Git Bash

  • Open devonfw CMD shell here

  • Open devonfw PowerShell here

  • Open devonfw Cygwin Bash Here (only if cygwin was installed during setup)

6.2.2. Tabs everywhere

Many people got used to tabs that have been introduced by all major browsers:

tabs in firefox
Figure 1. Tabs in Firefox

This nice feature can be added to many other tools.

Tabs for Windows Explorer

If you want to have tabs for windows explorer simply install Clover

tabs in windows explorer
Figure 2. Tabs in Windows Explorer
Tabs for SSH

If you want to have tabs for your SSH client Putty (or even better Kitty that comes with WinSCP integration) you simply install SuperPutty BTW: Windows 10 has already an SSH client included.

tabs for SSH sessions
Figure 3. Tabs for SSH
Tabs for CMD

If you want to have tabs for your windows command-line you simply install ConEmu. Here you can also add other shells like Putty. Also you should have a look at the new Windows Terminal which also supports tabs.

tabs for windows shells
Figure 4. Tabs for CMD

See guide-integration for integration of ConEmu with devonfw-ide.

6.2.3. Windows Helpers

Handle passwords

For security you want complex passwords that differ for each account? For simplicity you only want to remember a single password? Want to have both? Then you need to install KeePass right now.

Real text editor

A real developer needs a real text editor and not windows build in notepad. The most common choice is Notepad++.

Real compression tool

You need to deal with ZIP files, TGZ, dpkg, etc.? Just install 7zip and forget about windows build-in ZIP support (that is buggy with long file paths, etc.).

Smarter clipboard

You want to paste something from the clipboard but meanwhile you had to copy something else? Just one of many things you can easily do with ditto.

Sysinternals Tools

A real developer will quickly notice that windows build in tools to analyze processes, network connections, autostarts, etc. are quite poor. So what you really want is the Sysinternals-Suite. Make process-explorer your default task manager asap. Use autoruns to prevent nasty background things to be started automatically. Use tcpview to figure out which process is blocking port 8080, etc.

Cope with file locks

Did you ever fail to delete a file or directory that was locked by some process and you did not even know which one it was? Then you might love IoBit Unlocker. See also this article.

You are used to symbolic and hard links in Linux? You have to work with Windows? You would also like to have such links in Windows? Why not? Windows supports real links (not these stupid shortcuts). If you even want to have it integrated in windows explorer you might want to install linkshellextension. However, you might want to disable SmartMove in the configuration if you face strange performance issues when moving folders.


Install Cygwin and get your bash in windows with ssh-agent, awk, sed, tar, and all the tools you love (or hate). Windows 10 has already a Linux as an installable feature included: WSL and from Version 2004 on WSL2, which is a native Linux Kernel running on Windows (an a light weight VM).


Want to connect via SSH and need to open an X11 app from the server? Want to see the GUI on your windows desktop? No problem: Install VcXsrv.

Keyboard Freak

Are you the keyboard shortcut guy? Want to have shortcuts for things like « and » ? Then you should try AutoHotKey. For the example (« and ») you can simply use this script to get started:

^<::Send {U+00AB}
^+<::Send {U+00BB}

Now just press [ctrl][<] and [ctrl][>] ([ctrl][shift][<]). Next create shortcuts to launch your IDE, to open your favorite tool, etc. If you like a GUI to easily configure the scrips, that comes with a lot of extensions preinstalled, you should have a look at Ac’tive Aid.

Paint anywhere on your desktop

Do you collaborate sharing your screen, and want to mark a spot on top of what you see? Use Epic Pen to do just that.

analyze graphs

Need to visualise complex graph structures? Convert them to Trivial Graph Format (.tgf) an run yEd to get an interactive visualization of your graph.

up your screen capture game

Capture any part of your screen with a single click, directly upload to dropbox, or run an svn commit (oops sorry git ;-) ) all in one go with Greenshot. Another screen capture tool where you can easily manage and edit your screenshots and also do screen recordings with is Screenpresso.

Fast Search in Windows

Everything is a desktop search utility for Windows that can rapidly find files and folders by name.

6.3. MacOS Tooling

6.3.1. Finder

If you want to open a terminal from a folder in Finder and automatically get your environment set properly for devonfw-ide you will find the perfect solution here.

devonfw-ide integration in MacOS Finder

So after installing (see below) the integration(s) provided here, you can easily open a terminal ready for your devonfw-ide:

  • right click ([control] + click) on file or folder in Finder

  • Expand the Quick-Actions sub-menu

  • Click on the desired action (e.g. Open devonfw-Terminal here)

  • Verify that you environment is properly initialized by invoking:

    mvn -v

To get this feature for MacOS Terminal.app open Finder and run the workflow system/mac/terminal/Open_devonfw-Terminal_here.workflow (in ${DEVON_IDE_HOME}). For iTerm2.app (can be installed from App Store) do the same with system/mac/iterm/Open_devonfw-iTerm_here.workflow.

6.3.2. Keyboard

Keyboard support is not an integration but however, some users coming from other platforms may struggle with the way MacOS deals with (external non-apple) keyboards. So to make it short: if you are happy with your keyboard and shortcuts, you can skip all the following. Otherwise, if you think that pressing keys like Home, End, etc. should just work as expected or pressing Alt Gr should allow you to type the special characters as printed on your German keyboard then here you will find cure for your pain! To get all automated you can just run the script system/mac/keyboard/install-mac-keyboard-support.sh (in ${DEVON_IDE_HOME}). In case you want to understand what is going on, you want to customizer the keyboard settings to your needs or you do not use German ISO keyboard layout, please read on.

Keyboard Layouts

Keyboard-Layouts allow a find grained mapping of each key on your keyboard to its resulting input character or behaviour. They are a MacOS native features and do not need to have software running as background service to make the keyboard mapping work (see Karabiner section below as alternative). They are provided as so called bundle (white lego brick icon). Like a MacOS app this is a folder containing a Contents folder with a specific sub-folder structure. In the Resources subfolder *.keylayout files are placed that define the exact mapping for the keyboard. As an example we provide a Keyboard Layouts folder containing a bundle for a German keyboard mapping.

To install keyboard layouts simply doubleclick the bundle or copy it to ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts. To actually use them go to System Preferences and select Keyboard. Then select the tab Input Sources. With the + button you can add a keyboard layout for your daily usage with your mac. Please note that the keyboard layout shipped with devonfw-ide as example is called German-ISO and can be found in the Others section at the end of the list.

Keyboard Preferences / Input Sources

When you have multiple mappings in place, on the top menu bar you will find a little icon next to the current time that allows you to switch between the keyboard layouts, what is very handy when you switch from your native MacBook keyboard to an external USB keyboard or vice versa. Even for a pure MacOS geek this can be helpful in case a friend coming from Windows/Linux is supposed to type something on the Mac in a pair-programming session.

In our German keyboard mapping example you can use the keys like Alt Gr, etc. to type special characters as you would expect and as printed on your keyboard. To make Pos1, End, etc. work properly accross all apps please read on to the next section(s).

In case you want to create your own keyboard layout you can of course edit the *.keylayout files in a text editor. However, to make this much more comfortalbe, you can use the graphical editor tool Ukelele. Besides the app itself the Ukelele dmg file also contains a Documentation and a Resources folder. The latter contains many keyboard layouts that you can use as a starting point.


Still various keyboard shortcuts might not work as expected for you. Therefore we provide you with an advanced configuration in the folder system/mac/keyboard/KeyBindings that you can copy to your ~/Library folder:

cd system/mac/keyboard/
cp -r KeyBindings ~/Library

To make the changes work you need to log-out and log-in again or you can reboot. After that your Home (Pos1) and End buttons should work as expected including with selection via Shift and/or Command. Also you can use Command together with left or right arrow key to move between words and combined with Shift for selection. As an example for further customization you can press Command + < to type the unicode character «.

However, still some apps listen to keyboard events on a lower level and come with their own keyboard mappings. In these apps you might still experience unexpected behaviour. Solutions can be found in the following sub-sections.

Switch Control and Command

If you are used to windows or linux and get easily confused by the apple keyboard behaviour you might want to switch the Control and the Option key. Open System Preferences and select Keyboard. Then in the first tab you click on the button Modifier Keys…​. For every keyboard you can customize the behaviour of your modifier keys and therefore switch Control and Option as illustrated in the screenshot:

Keyboard Preferences / Modifier Keys

Programmers now should also disable that Control + Space is opening Spotlight Search as otherwise this shortcut can not be redifined in other apps like common IDEs.

Keyboard Preferences / Shortcuts

In Eclipse move and select by word as described above is not working. Even worse the most important shortcut does not work: Control + Space for code completion (content assist). You can manually redefine the keybindings in Preferences under General > Keys. However, with multiple IDE installations and workspaces this will quickly get tedious. Therefore, you can Export and Import specific Preferences such as Keys Preferences to/from a *.epf (Eclipse PreFerences) file. We have done all this for you so you can just import the file located in system/mac/keyboard/Eclipse/eclipse-mac-keybindings.epf into your Eclipse. Happy coding.


If you want more dynamics and do not worry about an app that has to run in the background to make your keyboard work as you like (no relevant performance overhead), you can try Karabiner Elements. This is a powerful tool to remap your keyboard shortcuts. In the UI you can only directly create and edit Simple Modifications that are too limited for most use-cases. However using Complex Modifications you can do a lot of magic to customize the keyboard behaviour to your personal needs. A key with any combination of modifiers can be mapped to any key with arbitrary modifiers. This can also be bound to conditions based on the frontmost application or the keyboard model. These complex modifications are configured as *.json files. We have included a set with useful rules for external keyboards, programmer shortcuts, etc. If you have Karabiner installed, you only need to copy the contents of the karabiner folder located in this directory to your ~/.config folder:

cd system/mac/keyboard/
cp karabiner/assets/complex_modifications/*.json ~/.config/karabiner/assets/complex_modifications/

Now, if you open the Complex Modifications in the Karabiner app, you can click on the + Add rule button and will see these mappings in the popup. Select the rules you want to add (e.g. add all) and you are done. Unlike other solutions here you can quickly tweak your keyboard without the need to logout and restart apps what gives faster trial and error turn-arounds. Furhter, if you want to tweak your own configs, Karabiner comes with a secondary app called Karabiner-EventViewer that shows you the names of the keys, modifiers, and apps for the events you are triggering. This is very helpful to get the config right.

6.4. Linux Tooling

Nothing here so far. If you are a Linux user, please share your experience and provide your valuable hints.

Last updated 2020-10-22 11:24:08 UTC