Reflections on EclipseCon

EclipseCon: Top Three Technologies


This year, after nearly ten years of active development involving Eclipse, I attended my first ever EclipseCon.

This year, after nearly ten years of active development
involving Eclipse, I attended my first ever EclipseCon. I’ve spent
most of my professional career in an academic setting, and I have
to say that this conference certainly stood out. The Open Source
concept makes for very good and interesting relations. Though the
attendees of EclipseCon come from a wide range of software
companies, all are rallied around this single platform for the
mutual benefit of one-another. That leads to some really great
innovation and a lot of exciting news. I would like to take a
moment to highlight a few of what are, in my opinion, the top
innovations and milestones that I was exposed to at this year’s
EclipseCon. I had heard about them all before. But, hearing about
them from the people who are working hard to turn them into real
successes is a lot more impactful than what I can see on a blog or
a wiki. So, without further ado, here they are:

3) Orion. It is still a very young project, but I will
certainly be looking out for this one. I have to admit, with some
shame, that I’m not that much of a Web developer. The Eclipse Web
Tools are excellent and the people at Aptana keep pumping out great
tools for those technologies that have become integral to the Web
(PyDev beat out my own Diver tool for

this year’s *Best Developer Tool* prize
, and I’m sure they
deserve it). Still, Eclipse as an IDE has lagged behind in its Web

Orion, however, may just change the way that the Web is done. It is
becoming a platform that combines the great extensibility of
plug-in patterns with a rich Web experience. It will be great to
see how this project scales in the future as more contributions
come in.

2) More
focusing on tasks
. For some reason, the term *Application
Lifecycle Management* (ALM) seemed to be a buzz whenever I had a
conversation this year at EclipseCon. ALM is a major focus of
commercial tools such as IBM’s Rational Team Concert, but it hasn’t
been a big focus of Open Source tooling. It was interesting to hear
Tasktop Founder Mik Kersten talk briefly about plans to better
integrate ALM into the Eclipse IDE through the use of the Mylyn
tools. This year, Ph.D. student Michaela Greiler from the Delft University of
Technology gave a talk about how Eclipse developers feel there is a
gap in tool support for software development processes, especially
in the areas of integration and system testing. Mylyn has certainly
been one of the killer apps applied to Eclipse, so it will be
interesting to see where this train goes.

1) E4.
Before EclipseCon, E4, for me, was a distant vision of the future
of Eclipse. The conference, however, brought the advancements of E4
to the forefront of my attention. The first session I attended was
a tutorial on rich application development in E4. After that, I
consumed as much E4 goodness as I could. The new model-driven
design of the workbench and the use of dependency injection both
promise to make it a lot faster and easier to write rich client
applications based on Eclipse. I think that there is still a lot to
do in the way of tooling, however. The modeling tools are great,
but DI can be a little hard to follow. Maybe there is opportunity
for synergy with the Guice team at Google?

On a more personal note, I was very impressed by the response of
the participants after I gave my own talk entitled, *Put it in
Reverse: Using Eclipse to Understand Code that has Already Been
Written*. Wherever you go at EclipseCon, there is a lot of
excitement and enthusiasm. Thanks to everyone for the input. I look
forward to another great year of innovation at Eclipse.

Del Myers is a masters student in the department of computer science at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He has worked in the programming industry and in academia. He is interested in finding ways to make the work of software developers easier and his previous research projects include finding ways to aid novice programmers in their learning and finding ways to support traceability and programmer communication through tags in software. In his spare time, he writes music and volunteers with local youth organizations.
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