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EclipseCon 2015 Wrap-Up

The San Francisco EclipseCon saw some interesting product/project announcements. From the Foundation itself came the milestone releases of two key IoT projects: Paho 1.1 and Mosquitto 1.4. They were actually released ahead of the conference, and I reported on them here. I wanted to highlight some other announcements to come out of the conference.

The Xtext project released version 2.8 of its open source framework for developing programming languages and domain specific languages (DSLs) at the show. The Xtext project combines a generic DSL infrastructure with an editor and a code generator written in Xtend, a Java dialect that compiles to Java 5-compatible source code, which means it can use existing Java libraries. Xtend is now a stand-alone Eclipse project.

The latest release of Xtext, which will be part of the Mars release train in June, comes with 180 bug fixes and big performance improvements, and a bunch of cool new features. It's a long list that includes new support for whitespace-aware languages, such as Python; grammar editor enhancements; new options for language code generation, including the ability to specify annotations to be added to each generated Java class; support for a new version of the Xbase compiler that allows developers to configure the Java version of the generated code; a new Java-to-Xtend converter; and a new formatter API.

The complete list of changes in Xtext 2.8 is available in the release notes.

Java toolmaker ZeroTurnaround released its Optimizer for Eclipse at the show. The free Eclipse plugin is designed to detect and fix common performance hiccups and configuration problems associated with the Eclipse IDE. The company is addressing what it sees as a common problem for Java developers, most of whom use the Eclipse dev tool.

"What Java developer hasn't, at some point in time, thought 'Wow, my Eclipse is really slow today?' " asked Jevgeni Kabanov, founder and CEO of ZeroTurnaround, in a statement. "We wanted to make coding in Eclipse more enjoyable by taking away the developer frustrations of a slow environment. We like to think of Optimizer for Eclipse as a jetpack for your Eclipse environment."

The plugin performs checks on configuration issues that negatively affect "the IDE user experienc" -- everything from insufficient memory allocation to class verification overhead, excessive indexes and history to lengthy build and redeploy times. Users can set the plugin to fix the type of problem automatically to speed up the performance of the IDE. It can also suss out a slow JDK and let users know if their IDE is out of date.

Codetrails announced the alpha release of its very cool Codecity for Eclipse at the show. This is an Eclipse plugin that calculates source code metrics and then provides a visualization of those metrics in the form of a navigable 3D map of a city block. It's a striking representation of data that emerged from the Codecity Project, which was developed at the Università della Svizzera italiana until 2010. These images communicate a ton of information instantly -- which, of course, is the purpose of these kinds of visualizations.

It works from within the IDE, providing users with a "Show in >> Codecity" option in the context menu. The metrics are computed in the background and then displayed in a browser window. The list of metrics supported by the plugin includes: number of declared methods, number of declared fields, number of problem markers, and number of commits. This last metric requires projects to be connected with an Eclipse team provider, the company says.

Codecity is a work in progress, but well worth checking out. It's available from the Eclipse Marketplace.

Posted by John K. Waters on March 16, 2015