Blog archive

Eclipse In-Web Tools Project Backers Maneuvering for a Diverse Community

Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, was in the Bay Area last week ahead of this week's EclipseCon Conference to attend the first ever Orion Planning Summit. The event brought together a range of interested parties and companies who gathered in Palo Alto, Calif. last Thursday and Friday to establish the scope and roadmap of Eclipse's nascent Orion project.

Introduced in January, the Orion Project seeks to define a platform for building and integrating Web development tools. The project summary describes it as a "browser-based open tool integration platform which is entirely focused on developing for the Web, in the Web."

"For a major part of the development world, this idea of being able to develop in the Web for the Web is the future," Milinkovich told me. "There's a lot interest in seeing if an open community can repeat the success Eclipse had in this new area."

"In the Web, for the Web" is more than just a buzz-phrase, Milinkovich insisted.

"It means zero-footprint deployment, run-in-the-browser support for the major browsers on the client side, a highly scalable hosting platform for development in the long term, and in the very long term the ability to enable to some quite cool code, team, and project analytics," he said.

It's definitely early days for the Orion Project. The original code contribution -- a modest one from IBM -- just showed up in late December, and the project is still in the pre-proposal stage. But Milinkovich hopes that getting people involved in the project early will lead to a more diverse community of developers.

"If you go back ten years ago, when Eclipse was first launched, the code base that was put into open source by IBM was pretty complete," he said. "It has been a challenge ever since to build a diverse development team around the core Eclipse platform. We have a lot of diversity across the Eclipse Community, but within the platform itself, it's still largely the team from IBM. With Orion, we're consciously trying to start off with just enough code to be interesting, with the goal of getting people to jump in and start participating, making contributions, and creating a much more diverse development team right from the very beginning."

This week's launch of OrionHub should help.

Gartner analyst Mark Driver sees a lot of potential in this "ground up" approach to developing the Orion community. In his January 19 blog post, he wrote that it could create "a potentially stronger community commitment and uptake than we saw with Eclipse."

If the turnout for the summit is any indication, the project is off to a good start. The event was hosted by SAP, and people from large and small companies well-known in the Web development communities showed up, including RIM, Mozilla, Nokia, Microsoft, PhoneGap and github, among others.

The early release of Orion is currently available for download here.


Posted by John K. Waters on March 22, 2011