Eclipse Foundation Reaches Out with Bug Fix Contest

The Eclipse Foundation's annual simultaneous release of project updates, known generally as the Release Train (2015's is code-named "Mars"),  is a few months away, but the organization is reaching out now to its community with a bug fix contest.

The "Great Fixes for Mars" competition, open now, is offering modest prizes but serious status to community members who "contribute fixes that will improve the functionality and performance of Eclipse."

The Foundation hopes the competition will generated an extra surge of participation during the weeks before the release, said Ian Skerrett, the Foundation's vice president of marketing, in an interview with ADTmag. "Open source communities always want to encourage more contributions," he said. "That's the lifeblood of a project. With this competition, we're just trying something a bit different, and timing it with the Mars release. It's where something like this might have the greatest impact, because, among other things, the committers are probably the most open to getting things fixed."

The fixes may be chosen from a list of "candidate bugs" provided by the Foundation, or the larger pool of bugs. Only contributors who are not committers on the projects for which they contribute a fix will qualify for consideration. Committers who contribute to projects different from their own also qualify, and qualified contributors can enter more than one fix. All participants must have signed the Eclipse Foundation's Contributor License Agreement (CLA).

So, what's a "great fix?"

It's one that provides "a significant improvement in the Java development experience using Eclipse," Skerrett said -- one that has "real impact."

The winners will be chosen from among contributors whose fixes were accepted by project committers and merged into the corresponding source code repositories. Three criteria will be used to select the winners from among those contributors: the knowledge of the contributor -- was it accepted with little or no modifications, or did it need more work; the type of fix -- performance and stability get more points than things like user experience; and the fix's overall impact to the community, which the committers vote on. The 10 winners will receive Android tablets, complements of Google.

The 10 top winners will be selected shortly after each of three submission deadlines: March 10, April 1 and May 6. The Mars Release Train is scheduled for release on June 24. To date, the competition has attracted 17 contributions from 3 contributors. "So we are off to a good start," Skerrett said.

"We are always looking for ways to encourage our community to contribute to the improvement of Eclipse," said the Foundation's executive director, Mike Milinkovich, in an e-mail. "Over the last couple of years we have made it a lot easier for individuals to set up an Eclipse development environment, and provide bug fixes. So now we want to encourage the community to participate even more in the success of Eclipse."

The Mars release will be preceded this year by the San Francisco edition of the EclipseCon conference, which is scheduled for March 9-12. The full list of projects currently on track to be part of the Mars release train is available online here.

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].