Eclipse looks ahead with focus on stability and performance enhancements
Paul Webster chats with JAX about the latest developments on the platform and the next big goals for the community.
In the run up to Eclipse’s much anticipated ‘Luna’
release, Diana Kupfer spoke to Eclipse Committer Paul Webster about
plugin development, UI highlights, and of course, the impending
mission to Mars.
JAX: We spoke almost two years ago, when the
Eclipse platform team had just made the
transition from Eclipse 3.x to the 4.x stream. As you said back
then, “one of the main goals of the 4.x
stream was to simplify plugin development when
interacting with the platform Workbench
services.“ Looking back, do you think this goal
– simplifying plugin development – has been
Webster: I think that some good
progress has been made on two fronts, but I don’t feel we’re quite
there yet. On the one front, people have been building more and
more Eclipse4 based applications. The feedback we’ve been getting
has been that they like the modelled UI and the Dependency
Injection (the simplification we had hoped for), and we’ve
published a lot of the core infrastructure as API.
On the Eclipse4 side what’s still missing is
access to a full range of Workbench Services. Decoupling them from
the 3.x Workbench is ongoing, and the team is currently working on
decoupling the Progress view and making that available for Eclipse4
On the second front, we’re working on allowing
Eclipse4 views to be full participants in a 3.x RCP application, by
adding to 3.x extensions that can reference Eclipse4 technology.
But there’s more work to do here.
Some developers building RCP applications
still find it necessary to add Eclipse 3.x views such as Project
Explorer and the Properties View to Eclipse 4 RCP applications.
Will this “mixed mode” still be necessary in Eclipse
Yes, the work to decouple 3.x views from the
workbench is still ongoing.
In terms of performance enhancements, also a
big issue back then, have you been able to fix as many regressions
as you wanted to or is there still a lot of work ahead of
Yes, we were able to address almost all of the
performance issues that were concerns when Juno was released. We
think there are more areas we can improve, though, so we’re still
working on performance.
What are your personal UI highlights in the
upcoming Eclipse 4.4 release?
For me the two most interesting changes coming
in Luna are Split Editors and the Dark Theme. I like Split Editors
because it has been a long-standing request from the community that
we’re are finally able to offer thanks to the new Eclipse4
technologies (Modelled UI and DI). I think the Dark Theme is
interesting because of the CSS enhancements that made it possible
for editor providers to contribute colour and font changes to the
theme without code changes on their part.
There was also a large contribution of PNG
replacements for the SDK icon GIFs from Tony McCrary that really
helped the look of the Dark Theme.
What about Workspace compatibility (in Eclipse
4.4) with earlier versions?
Luna will upgrade the workspace as usual. Kepler
and Juno workspaces should just work fine. All files and file state
an Indigo based workspace will upgrade fine, but as before going
from Indigo to Luna will lose perspective
Are there currently enough committers involved
in the Eclipse platform project to get all the work done or are you
looking for help?
I’m always looking for more help! We have a good
core team, with committers both inside and outside IBM. But the
platform Workbench is vast, and when developers enhance and
maintain the workbench components that they care about and depend
on the platform improves for all consumers. That’s why we’ve had a
push with the past two releases to be more responsive to patches
and get more contributors involved. I think it’s been well worth
Any plans for next year, ie. Eclipse Mars,
that you want to tell us about?
We’ll be starting our general planning for Mars
soon. I think we’ll continue to pursue enhancements in the Eclipse4
space, like improvements in our CSS support, finish some service
decoupling like the Progress view, and provide better support in
3.x RCP applications for pure Eclipse4 views. We’ll also focus on
stability and performance enhancements. But I don’t have more
specifics at the moment.