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EclipseCon 2014: Java 8 Support, Flux Integrates Orion

The big news at the latest edition of EclipseCon North America, which wrapped up in San Francisco on Thursday, was Oracle's Java 8 announcements. The conference planners devoted an entire day at the show to Java 8 (George Saab's opening presentation on "Java Day" was standing room only). The Foundation itself is providing Java 8 language support as an add-on to the Eclipse IDE.

"We're pretty excited about the Java 8 language support for Eclipse Kepler (the latest version from last June's the release train)," Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich told me in an earlier interview. "The Eclipse Java development tools team has done a great job adding Java 8 support to the IDE, including a formatter, code completion, code navigation, search and indexing, a reconciler, and incremental builder support for all of Java 8. I think that the quick assist support for migrating anonymous classes to lambda expressions will be particularly popular with Java developers as they migrate their code."

During his conference keynote, Milinkovich talked about another Eclipse project that should get at least a bit of shine from the Java 8 spotlight: the Flux project. Formerly called Project Flight, Flux aims to design and implement a new architecture and infrastructure for integrating development tools across the desktop, browsers, and servers. As the project page describes it, "The goal is to provide an extremely flexible platform and infrastructure that allows new cloud-based tooling components to be built highly decoupled from each other and that bridges the gap to existing desktop IDEs at the same time."

This project is all about cloud-based developer tooling, and its initial focus is Java and JavaScript tooling implemented by re-using parts of JDT (the tool plug-ins that implement a Java IDE) and the Eclipse Orion browser-based development platform. The Orion client is written in JavaScript and runs in the browser. Other services for other languages to follow, Milinkovich said.

But accomplishing this goal also involves providing connectors to such desktop dev tools as the Eclipse IDE, IntelliJ IDEA, NetBeans, and even plain text editors. This project will be distributed under both the Eclipse Distribution License and the Eclipse Public License, and it'll be hosted on GitHub.

The Flux Project is being led by Pivotal's Martin Lippert. He leads the Spring Tool Suite at Pivotal, which made the initial Flux code contribution. Pivotal spun off from EMC's VMware in 2012.

Milinkovich said he expected Orion, which was contributed to the Eclipse open source community by IBM, to become an increasingly important dev environment. The Flux integration of the Web-based tools of Orion with the desktop tools of Eclipse will give developers "the ability to use the right tools to work on their code, wherever they are," Milinkovich said. "They can use Orion to work on code on their tablet, or in an environment where a Web-based browser is the right way to go."

Milinkovich's keynote was entitled "Eclipse: The Next 10 Years." His talk covered a bit of Eclipse history and then he pulled out his crystal ball to make a few predictions about trends that will affect developers in the future. The Flux Project underscores the growing importance of the cloud, but what topped his list is the overall ascendance of software, which, thanks to the explosion of code bases, is quickly becoming the most important element of the enterprise. An example, he pointed to the Airbus Aircraft, whose planes use four times more onboard code than they did three years ago. Next on his list: the Internet of Things (IoT), which is definitely the next big thing for developers, he said. He pointed out that the Foundation currently has 14 projects in the IoT space, with more are on the horizon.

Posted by John K. Waters on March 21, 2014