Pulling into the platform

Can Eclipse Kepler get the platform back on track?

Chris Mayer

Java EE 7 support and Orion improvements are on the menu for the open source’s latest release train


It’s the time of year every Eclipse developer
has marked down on their calendar. The fourth week of June of
course signals the arrival of the annual release train,
major updates for a number of
projects within the Eclipse Foundation.

Kepler, the
eighth annual package delivered by the foundation, may be its most
important to date. Last year’s Juno release
introduced a new development platform, e4, but performance issues
left many frustrated.

Recognising the new environment’s shortcomings,
the Eclipse Foundation
has spent much of
the past year rectifying problems in subsequent service releases,
yet many chose to stick to the trusted 3.7 and 3.8 platforms
despite this. The knock-on effect has been equally damaging to
Eclipse, with a slump in user satisfaction according to this

Eclipse Community Survey

Kepler gives Eclipse a chance to show
it is back on track. Without any
benchmarks to hand, it is difficult to say whether this has been
achieved, but by

November 2012
, an early build
4.3 was shown to be faster than 3.8.

Kepler by numbers

  • 71 total projects (114 if you include
    subprojects contributing)

  • 428 committers from 54 supporting

  • 48,000 commits

  • 4,786 OSGi bundles

  • 58 million lines of code

Holger Voormann
has provided more details
behind this year’s release train, as well as providing some handy
graphics to show how it stacks up when compared to past

The total number of projects for Eclipse Kepler
remains at 71, the same number as Juno once EMF Query 2 had dropped
out of the release train entirely. Given that Juno introduced 10
new projects, it seems disappointing on the face of it.

But there is plenty of change nonetheless. Three
projects (Jetty, Virgo and Runtime Packaging) are not returning for
this simultaneous release, while Eclipse’s JVM language Xtend
merged with Xtext. Eclipse Director Wayne Beaton

that Jetty isn’t formally part of
the release train, but certain Jetty components remain in the
Kepler repository, brought in as dependencies for other

There are four release train newcomers in
Kepler, which are:

Existing projects get a lick of polish as well,
to acknowledge recent changes in the Java industry. The newest
version of the
Web Tools
supports app development with the newest
enterprise version, Java EE 7, which Mike Milinkovich tells
Application Development Tools is “the quickest” they’ve ever been
able to support a Java EE version.

Another project that has
made great strides in the past year is Eclipse
, the foundation’s fledgling browser-based
tool platform. Orion breaks away from Eclipse’s regular Java
desktop experience, as it is focused on web development, thus
written entirely in JavaScript. The latest version, v3.0, however
provides improved Java server infrastructure, which

Project Lead Ken Walker says
is as
“important” as the JavaScript side. To do this, Orion has been
rewritten to use Maven and Tycho and can now be deployed as a WAR
file. Orion also supports a Git-based workflow.

Even some of the oldest Eclipse projects have
been renovated. Eclipse BIRT, the BI and reporting toolkit which
was part the first release train Callisto, has welcomed in big
data, by supporting MongoDB and Cassandra databases in


Almost all of the projects in Kepler have made
the switch to Git, as requested by the foundation as they shut off
CVS support at the end of 2012. Only 8
of the
107 are still sticking with

In conclusion, Eclipse Kepler looks like a
stabilising release for the foundation, but also full of plenty new
features for the modern software developer to try. You can

right now.

Stay tuned for an interview with Eclipse Executive
Director, Mike Milinkovich tomorrow!

Image courtesy of perpetualplum

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