JAX London 2014: A retrospective

Eclipse Release e4 1.0 M3


The Eclipse e4 team have released Milestone 3 of e4 1.0, the incubator project for Eclipse 4.0, the next generation of the Eclipse platform. The e4 project is a cluster of related technologies aimed at simplifying the development of software components and component-based applications. e4 places an emphasis on customisability. Theoretically, it should be easier to reuse components built on the Eclipse platform, in different environments, than it was on the previous 3.x releases.

In the pursuit of achieving this increased re-usability, Eclipse are currently experimenting with an OSGi-based service-orientated programming model, to provide better isolation of components from their surrounding environment. They are also considering a new port of SWT, which allows existing SWT applications to be executed on web platforms such as Actionscript and Flash. A full list of the technologies developed in e4 can be found at the project white paper.

The new e4 1.0 M3 release demonstrates the approach Eclipse plan to take towards extending the e4 model. A full run-through and example of this process, can be found at the New And Noteworthy section on Eclipse.org.

e4 1.0 M3 also introduces persistence of application state. Any user changes made to an application’s state, are recorded individually and then automatically applied to the source model. Eclipse have also removed the IDE-style containment model altogether for M3, cutting the model’s number of classes and reportedly “removing many sources of confusion.”

Also new, are user interface (UI) profiles, which provide meta-class management, allow the registration of new meta-classes, and facilitate the overwriting and restoring of the predefined meta-classes as a whole.

e4 features a new visual editor-like WYSIWYG tool for e4 workbench authoring, the e4 Workbench Designer. It reuses many components from the XML-based editor XWT Designer. This visual design tool allows the user to assemble and layout an e4 application visually.

The e4 1.0 M3 compatibility layer for Eclipse 3.x is currently under development. The compatibility layer will show simple views in an e4 application and allow the user to run Eclipse 3. x API tests. Not all Eclipse 3. x API tests are passing the compatibility tests, but parts of e4 are currently compatible with the Eclipse 3.x series, and the test infrastructure is in place.

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