JAX London 2014: A retrospective

Gortázar: some projects can only be done within the academic world


“Some projects can only be done (and make sense) within the academic world,” declares Francisco Gortázar in response to Chris Aniszczyk’s call for Eclipse and academia to form a closer working relationship.

He cites his own project, EclipseGavab as evidence. EclipseGavab is a very specific Eclipse distribution that includes plug-ins and compilers for the programming subjects taught by the Gavab Research Group members at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. “EclipseGavab itself makes sense only in the classroom,” he writes, and he does have a point. Why would you need the programming equivalent of study notes for a set of university-taught subjects, if you aren’t sitting that particular class, at that particular university? There are some Eclipse projects that only make sense in the classroom and have little relevance to the broader Eclipse ecosystem: but is this a reason to discard the idea of Eclipse and academia forging a more mutually beneficial relationship? Surely, for every project that is of no use to the broader Eclipse community, there is a project that is of great use?

Despite his initial reservations, in the end Gortázar agrees that there are some academic projects that have a place in the non-academic, Eclipse world – it just depends on what sort of project it is.

Gortázar agrees with Stephan Herrmann’s statement that there are essentially two types of research project. There are individual projects, which in his experience, are sometimes abandoned as soon as the required paper or degree is finished. There are also fund projects, which are more likely to create something “polished.” Sometimes, the resulting code can even be consumed directly by the Eclipse community. In his opinion, it would usually take additional effort to get individual projects into good enough shape to be of use to the general Eclipse user.

But, he sees this as a two-way process: Eclipse would have to offer greater support for academic projects. The way he sees it, the only academic project Eclipse are currently extending support to, is Google Summer of Code. Gortázar wants to see Eclipse supplying some infrastructure to Eclipse-related research projects, in the form of a forge, complete “with an agile way of adding new projects.” This would give individual projects in particular a chance to foster community. Too often, these projects and their tools are created simply to show an idea for a paper. The developers are ignorant of the value of their work, and the tools they’ve created never truly see the light of day. Gortázar proposes an infrastructure to get these projects out into the community, and realising whatever potential they may have.

He’s the latest in a string of community members to lend their support to Chris Aniszczyk’s idea of a repository of Eclipse-related academic works, enthusing that it’ll be a useful starting point for finding research projects and papers, and would give the Eclipse community a way to keep track of the way Eclipse is being used within academia. He envisions this as a wiki page.

As the ‘how to integrate Eclipse and academia’ debate continues, the amount of interest both communities are showing for the subject, bodes well for the future. Everyone who has spoken up so far, may have a slightly different interpretation of the idea, but they all agree that a tighter integration of Eclipse and academia – in some shape of form – has its merits.

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