The Eclipse Foundation’s Coordinated Kickoff

The third annual EclipseCon tradeshow produced a swarm of news and new product announcements last week. But easily the most intriguing recent development in the Eclipse ecosystem is the Callisto Simultaneous Release initiative.

Word that the Eclipse Foundation was planning to synchronize the release of 10 of its 61 projects actually began circulating in January. The details seemed to come together at the show—in particular, the final list of projects, which includes:

  • BIRT reporting tools
  • C/C++ IDE
  • Data Tools Platform
  • EMF modeling framework and code generation facility
  • Graphical Editor Framework
  • Graphical Modeling Framework
  • Eclipse Test and Performance Tools Platform
  • Eclipse Web Tools Platform
  • Eclipse Visual Editor
  • Eclipse 3.2 (the Callisto release)

The collected Callisto projects are set to ship on the same day in June. If this coordinated commencement goes off as planned, we can expect it to become an annual event, EF executive director Mike Milinkovich told me during an interview at the show. But more than once a year just wouldn't be practical, he said, because newer projects are going to need to ship more often than older, more mature projects.

Why go to what was undoubtedly a considerable amount of potentially divisive fuss to coordinate a group of Eclipse project releases?

''We simply want to make it easier for our technology to be adopted,'' Milinkovich said. ''Developers are going to be winners in this, because they’re going to get a lot of code that has been tested together. The big winners are going to be the ISV adopters who are building products on top of Eclipse, because they’re going to get pretty much everything they need to build their products.''

And why these ten projects?

''It’s important to remember that this thing was not imposed from the top down by the Foundation,'' Milinkovich said. ''Eclipse is a community, not a software company by other means. [Callisto] was an idea created by the projects themselves, and enlistment in the release train was absolutely voluntary. They had to commit to hitting the dates, but that was really the only criteria.''

Milinkovich has been characteristically circumspect about Callisto, insisting that he doesn’t want to over-hype the initiative. ''It’s not an end-to-end solution that we’re shipping,'' he said. ''It’s 10 open-source projects that are going out on the same day.''

I actually think Milinkovich is underselling Callisto. This is, to my knowledge, something that has never been done by an open-source community. It's a remarkable undertaking, because to make it work, the Eclipsicans had to create an environment in which there’s a much deeper level of inter-project cooperation among competitors—fierce competitors, many of whom have committed $250,000 a year and serious people power to work with their rivals on these projects.

In fact, I predict that we'll look back on this initiative as a genuine milestone in the evolution of OSS development. Assuming, of course that it works.

Callisto details (goals, plans, schedules, project status reports) are available on the Callisto Simultaneous Release web page

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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