Mylyn Project To Split into Subprojects

The Mylyn project is being divided into subprojects that its creator, Mik Kersten, says will accelerate the evolution of this open source framework for integrating task and application lifecycle management (ALM) tools with the Eclipse IDE.

"Mylyn is one of the most extended Eclipse frameworks," Kersten said, "and we've simply grown too big for one project. It just finally made sense to restructure around a broader ecosystem of subprojects."

The Mylyn project will now comprise several subprojects representing what Kersten called "key IDE/ALM integration categories." The list of new subprojects includes "Tasks," which focuses on integrating task and change management; "Context," which looks at context management and task focus; "SCM," which concentrates on integrating source code management; "Build," which works on integrating build, release and continuous integration; "Review" for collaborative code review; "Docs," which covers documentation requirements; and "Commons," for Rich client, REST and WS utilities.

Each subproject will have a reference implementation, Kersten said: Bugzilla and Trac for "Task," JDT and CDT for "Context," CVS and EGit for "SCM," Hudson for "Build" and WikiText for "Docs."

Leading and contributing to these projects is a lineup of top Agile vendors, which currently includes Rally Software ("Tasks"), Cloudsmith ("Builds"), Perforce ("SCM") and INSO ("Review").

How does Eclipse determine who gets to lead which subproject?

"It's all a meritocracy," Kersten said. "Whoever has stepped up with the most contributions, whoever is putting up the most resources in terms of committers, gets to play a leadership role."

The plan to divide the Mylyn project into subgroups is the biggest change in the product's history since the initial 1.0 release, Kersten said.

In a separate announcement, Eclipse revealed that Mylyn will now embrace the new Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) Web service standards for ALM. Tasktop Technologies collaborated with IBM on that project, which makes sure that any servers supporting OSLC will integrate automatically with Mylyn.

Mylyn is what is known as a "task-focused interface." Intended to reduce the information overload developers face, it extends the GUI metaphor and shows only a subset of the content that is relevant to the task at hand. The result among developers who use Mylyn is less time spent searching for information and more time coding.

"Mylyn has become the bridge between the ALM and collaboration tools on the developers' desktops," Kersten said. "It has become the task-management layer for developers. The task-focused interface realigns the entire IDE around the ALM artifact. So, instead of developers having to see the entire source code for the very complex systems they work on, they see only the code that is relevant to the user story or defect they're trying to fix."

Kersten, who leads the Eclipse Mylyn project, is the CEO of Tasktop, a company he founded to develop commercial products around Mylyn, including Tasktop Pro. He developed Mylyn (originally called Mylar) during his graduate studies at the University of British Columbia in 2004. Today it accounts for more than a million downloads per month, not counting commercial distributions from companies like Tasktop.

"Mylyn has a way of dealing with unstructured text that is very popular among developers," said Michael Coté, industry analyst at RedMonk, "It has a way of cross-linking among your source code, your bug-tracking system -- all of this stuff that developers and development managers use to track a project in the actual code itself. It provides a lot of meta-information tracking around the development process that's extremely helpful."

Currently in its 3.3 release, Mylyn is built on Java 5 and integrated into the Eclipse IDE. Fully one-seventh of the framework has been built by community contributors, Kersten said.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].