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Eclipse's Second Synchronized Project Release

The Eclipse Foundation today announced the availability its second synchronized open source project release, code-named "Europa." Unveiled exactly one year after Eclipse's first-ever coordinated project release, Europa more than doubles the number of projects in last year's Callisto release.

The Foundation's executive director, Mike Milinkovich, characterized Europa as an important milestone in his organization's ongoing strategy of providing a common development platform for embedded, rich-client, rich-Internet and server applications.

"The tremendous advantage Eclipse provides is that it spans these different types of applications with a common component model, frameworks and tools," he said in a statement.

More than 310 open source developers located in 19 countries contributed an estimated 17 million lines of code to this release. That's a significant increase over the Callisto release, which involved 10 project teams, seven million lines of code and 260 open source developers in 12 countries.

"It's a good example of how to do distributed development in the large, and how Eclipse and open source really make this scalability possible," said Ian Skerrett, the Eclipse Foundation's director of marketing.

Although this is the Foundation's second synchronized project release, Skerrett pointed out that this is the fourth year in a row that the organization has delivered a major release of the Eclipse core platform project in June. Those earlier release teams defined the process that led to the two "release trains," Skerrett said, and that process has become part of the Eclipse culture.

"People get on board and come along for the ride," he said.

Why go to the trouble of coordinating the simultaneous release of 21 open source projects? In a word, predictability.

"One of the goals of Eclipse is to build technology that gets embedded into people's products or applications," Skerrett said. "If that's the goal -- to become a good provider of technology -- you have to be predictable, so that the people downstream developing product plans know when to expect a new release."

The Eclipse Foundation is highlighting several projects in this release:

  • The new version of the popular Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools project, better known as BIRT, has added support for dynamic crosstabs, output to Microsoft Word and Excel formats, and the ability to allow for Web services to act as a data source.
  • The Eclipse Modeling project has updated the Eclipse Modeling Framework to support Java 5 generics, which allows for creation and management of more complex and flexible data models.
  • Eclipse Mylyn (formerly Mylar) has added new collaboration features designed to enable task-centric collaboration for development teams.
  • And the new Eclipse Dynamic Language Toolkit introduces IDE support for Ruby, and now provides a framework to reduce the complexity of developing IDEs for other dynamic languages, such as TCL and Python.

One of the newest passengers on the Europa release train is the Eclipse SOA Tools Project (STP). The STP plans to release a tool for SOA developers that will support the Service Component Architecture (SCA) and Java API for XML Web Services (JAX-WS) standards. In addition, the STP is planning a Business Process Management Notation (BPMN) tool.

STP lead Oisin Hurley is a distinguished engineer at Iona Technologies, an enterprise-integration software provider specializing in distributed SOA infrastructure products. To make the Europa release date, Hurley said, the STP team opted to go with a 0.6 release.

"A 1.0 release is a special thing as far as Eclipse is concerned," Hurley explained. "It means that your APIs are fully baked and good to go. This release is certainly functionally sound, but we want more people to use it before we finalize it and lock it down.

"But, from a project perspective, we also wanted to go through this release process. One of the things that distinguishes Eclipse among open source communities is its rigorous IP process, which is constantly evolving, and which has made a very big difference in the way the group's projects have been taken up. It's very tough; there are lots of T's to be crossed and I's to be dotted. We're the callow youths of the Eclipse Foundation, and we needed to get some experience under our belts, to go through the release frenzy. And I have to say, we're learning an awful lot."

The Eclipse Foundation plans to make the Europa-release projects available on June 29 at the eclipse.org Web site. The Foundation created new download options based on user profiles, Skerrett said. The profiles help to provide complete packages for users requiring a Java IDE, JEE IDE, C/C++ IDE, and an SDK for RCP and Plugin developers.

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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