Find Hard-coded String Literals via Eclipse

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As many developers know, hard-coding is a bad practice when trying to code a maintainable program. Programs need to be modified and recompiled in order for the new hard-coded value to take effect. This is also a common headache when the program needs to support i18n (internationalization), but the program has many hard-coded label / description.


Provided that an individual is using Eclipse for development, how can the individual find all the hard-coded string literals? Does the invidual need to create a complex regular expression in order to spot those instances?


Fortunately, the Java compiler, implemented by Eclipse, supports some code style checks that can greatly help developers when coding. One of the code style checks is for “Non-externalized strings” and below are the steps for enabling this check.

  1. Open the Eclipse Preferences window and find the Errors/Warnings subsection.
  2. May enable project specific settings in case other projects need not to have these kinds of checks.
  3. Change the value for “Non-externalized strings” to Warning or Error.
  4. Click OK.


Sample Result

After applying the settings above, the code editor in Eclipse will now add indicators to specific lines of codes that violates the Non-externalized strings check. Below is the sample image of the code editor with the applied settings.


Note: If exclusion of a line is desired, the developer may append the $NON-NLS$ tag. The Eclipse Java compiler will then just ignore the hard-coded string.

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