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Eclipse Milestones Released for AJAX, Dynamic Languages

The Eclipse Foundation has announced three new project milestone releases that extend the open-source Eclipse framework to support AJAX and dynamic programming languages, such as Python, Ruby, and Tcl.

"Eclipse was always about building a platform that supported tools for multiple development scenarios," says the Foundation's executive director Mike Milinkovich. "AJAX is attracting a lot of developer attention today, and we want to make sure that there is innovative technology from Eclipse available to those developers."

The three projects are the Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform (RAP), the Eclipse Ajax Toolkit Framework (ATF), and the Eclipse Dynamic Language Toolkit (DLTK).

The RAP project seeks to provide a runtime for building rich, AJAX-enabled Internet applications by extending the existing Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) with a series of frameworks for creating AJAX apps. The first milestone release of RAP is available now.

"Today, the decision of whether to deploy an application as a rich client on the desktop or as an AJAX-enabled application in the browser is a fundamental technology choice that developers have to make very early in the project lifecycle," Milinkovich tells ADT. "We want to make it possible for developers to defer that decision until deployment time."

The purpose of the Eclipse Ajax Toolkit Framework (ATF) project is to provide the tools and frameworks for building an AJAX IDE. It comprises a variety of components, including a JavaScript debugger for local and network files, and tools for inspecting running AJAX applications. The ATF already supports the popular AJAX frameworks Dojo, Rico, and Zimbra. This release adds support for Scriptaculous. ATF Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX is available for download here.

The Eclipse Dynamic Language Toolkit project (DLTK) provides frameworks and components for simplifying the task of adding support for dynamically typed languages to Eclipse. The initial release, which provides support for Tcl, is now available. Other versions are in the works to support Ruby and Python.

"I'm a dynamic languages guy, myself," Milinkovich says. "My own programming roots are in SmallTalk, so I'm not surprised to see programmers discovering that dynamic languages are cool and that you can build useful things with them. What you're seeing out there today is a lot of interest in a wide variety of these languages. Increasingly, mixing and matching of languages within an organization--and even within single applications--is becoming more common in the industry. We're hoping to get to a scenario where, no matter what language you are using, there will be an Eclipse-based solution for it. The DLTK really helps us to move in that direction."

The not-for-profit Eclipse Foundation announced the project milestones at its fourth annual EclipseCon conference, underway this week in Santa Clara, Calif. (March 5-8). The event is expected to draw more than 1,300 attendees.

During a conference press event, Milinkovich talked up the Foundation's Open Services Gateway (OSGi) project. OSGi is the specification for the component model used within Eclipse. The Eclipse Equinox project is an implementation of the OSGi spec, and it forms the core technology for Eclipse and Eclipse RCP. The OSGi Developer Conference was co-located this year with the EclipseCon event.

He also chided Microsoft for not seeking Eclipse interoperability with .NET. He claimed that Microsoft sends representatives to EclipseCon every year and talks about setting up meetings with the Foundation, but does not follow through. "They never call," he said.

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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