Interview

EclipseCon Starts Next Week

Jessica Thornsby
EclipseCon-Starts-Next-Week

With EclipseCon 2010 just around the corner, JAXenter caught up with this year’s Program Chair Oisin Hurley, to get a sneak-preview of what we can expect from EclipseCon 2010, and to get his predictions on which Eclipse projects and technologies will make an impact this year…

JAXenter: EclipseCon is
kicking off next week. Can you tell us, what makes EclipseCon
special?

Oisin Hurley: When it comes to conferences for
the Eclipse devotee, EclipseCon is the biggest Eclipse conference,
with the most diverse collection of content, the biggest buzz and
the most anticipated event of the Eclipse developer’s year. There
are free tutorials, lots and lots of talks in different formats as
well as panels, and this year we are introducing an Unconference.
You can get to meet practically all of the most well-known
committers and project leads, listen to their talks and ask them
questions about their projects and developments. Also, some of us
who live in rainy countries get to experience some California
weather, which is a nice bonus!

JAXenter: Who is EclipseCon aimed at?

Oisin Hurley: The Eclipse Community is very
varied – Eclipse is a platform that is created by a diverse set of
committers and contributors of all levels of ability. Because of
the platform’s nature, there is yet another community of developers
who use the platform to build even more capabilities and value into
products of their own making. These consumers give Eclipse the
scale-out that is needed to achieve the resounding level of success
that Eclipse has reached. In between the developer elements, there
are those that contribute to the enhancement of the community,
either through creation of educational or documentary content, as
well as project, product and community managers. So you can see
that while many might just think of developers when they think of
Eclipse, in fact the Eclipse community is a huge collection of
people in many roles. All of these people share the bond, that the
Eclipse Community is where they have decided to apply their
expertise.

JAXenter: What are the main themes for this
year’s conference? Should we be expecting any big changes, for
EclipseCon 2010?

Oisin Hurley: I have the honour this year of
being the Program Chair for EclipseCon, and it was my intention to
change the way that we constructed the program. There are three
major themes to the conference : Making With Eclipse, Making For
Eclipse and Making Community. These three themes echo the community
structure, aiming themselves at consumer developers,
committer/contributor developers and the community in general. The
idea of introducing broad themes like these was to break down the
striated project-specific structure that we had operated for the
last couple of EclipseCons, giving our attendees the opportunity to
spread their knowledge net wider and learn more from projects and
efforts that may not be directly associated with their chosen
platform elements. I’m hoping that this means they have room to
explore the ecosystem more and discover new and valuable
things.

We did break with some of the previous conference structures. We
used to have tutorials only on Monday. Now there are tutorials
every morning. In the middle of the day we have talks – we have set
the standard talk length to twenty-five minutes, with the intention
of providing more content and encouraging presenters to weed out
the unnecessary elements of their submissions. We’ve kept a longer
format and lightning format talks, but fewer of them. Towards the
end of the day, we have panel sessions, where we hope to explore
some thorny topics in public with a collection of experts. Finally,
in the evening, we have a new venture – the Unconference. This is
like a speakers’ corner – anyone can talk, there is no
pre-allocated slots, and you can get up there and give your
opinion, or introduce something that you think is cool.

A conference day is always a long day, so the concept behind
this new structure is that attendees get education in the morning
when their brain is ready to lear;, they get entertainment and
information with the talks; they get to give feedback and interact
directly with the experts during the panels and finally, they get
their own say at the Unconference. No-one likes to listen for the
whole day without giving something in return, so you can see the
balance of communication, which is focused on the presenters at the
start of the day, and then shifts to the attendees at the end of
the day.

One thing we haven’t changed are the keynotes – these are long
talks that kick off first thing in the morning, and help to
entertain, motivate and inspire presenters and attendees alike.
This year we have Robert Martin on Software Professionalism, Jeet
Kaul and Steve Harris on the future of Java at Oracle, and Jeff
Norris on NASA systems built with Eclipse.

Finally, and once again new, the Eclipse Foundation, in
collaboration with NASA JPL are organizing a competition where
developers vie to create the best guidance software for a robot in
a prototypical Mars terrain. There will be prizes!

JAXenter: There is currently some debate in the
community, about how to raise the value of the Eclipse Foundation
membership. What are your thoughts on this matter?

Oisin Hurley: In a market contraction, everyone
starts looking for more value, so it’s no surprise that the
community is debating this, at this time. In fact, I think this is
a debate that should be permanently ongoing as organizations and
their approaches relentlessly change. One thing I know is that the
Eclipse Foundation board and staff are very familiar with this
issue, and we have seen them innovating around membership
categories and fees over the last couple of years. I’m confident
that the forward-thinking members on the board will help force the
Foundation through the changes necessary to continue to be
successful for years to come.

JAXenter: In your opinion, which Eclipse
technologies and projects will be particularly important for the
eclipse ecosystem in the upcoming year?

Oisin Hurley:The mantra is : Runtime, Modeling,
e4. These are the three most visibly important elements of the
Eclipse ecosystem’s growth. But there are more elements behind the
scenes. Simply building Eclipse products and projects is a vital
foundation stone that needs to be laid before you can add
higher-level function. Right now, there are something like five
different ways to do this. The question is – should we have only
one way? That question needs to be answered in the next year –
adopter choice will be vital. Another one is the new Graphiti
project for graphical editor construction, which will give another
approach to creating advanced Eclipse editors. Finally, from a
sluggish start, Eclipse has become very keen on adopting the Git
distributed revision control system – having bulletproof built-in
support for that source control system will be vital to ensure the
success of that adoption.

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