Mike Morearty
18 May 2009

Flex Builder tip: How to dismiss the “Add Watch Expression” dialog from the keyboard

One add-watch-expressionof the most common Flex Builder debugger complaints is that when you bring up the dialog to add a new expression to the Expressions view (e.g. via right-click > Add Watch Expression), you cannot dismiss this dialog using the keyboard alone. The dialog has a multi-line edit box, and if you press Return, that just adds a carriage return to the edit box. Similarly, trying to tab out of the edit box doesn’t work – it just inserts a tab character into the edit box.

This drives keyboard-heavy users (like me) crazy. However, it turns out that there is a way to dismiss this dialog from the key:

Type Shift+Return instead of Return.

There is, in fact, a good reason why this dialog has a multi-line edit box. As explained in this Eclipse bug, some languages (including Java) allow you to enter more than just a simple expression into this box. And since the dialog comes from Eclipse’s code rather than from Flex Builder’s, we can’t just change it to have a single line.

Since this is such a common point of frustration for Flex Builder users, in the above-linked bug I have asked that they find some way to make this easier for people to deal with, e.g. by perhaps having a short message in the dialog mentioning Shift+Return. But in any case, you now know the secret handshake – enjoy!

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