Happy birthday Eclipse Foundation! : 5 noteworthy initiatives from the past decade

Lucy Carey

Established in 2004, the Eclipse Foundation has become a shining testament to what truly open-source development can achieve. Here are just a few highlights.

Running through the roster of Eclipse Foundation
projects old and new, you can easily chart the rise and fall of
development trends over the past decade. Since the not-for-profit,
vendor-neutral Foundation was established by IBM in 2004, it’s
swelled from 19 projects and 50 members to 247 projects and

205 members
, who have formed collaborative working groups
around industries and technologies ranging from geospace to
aerospace and the Internet of Things (IoT).  

Although it was initially open sourced by IBM  to
foster adequate market share for a fragmented Java tools market to
stand against
Microsoft’s Visual Studio franchise
, Eclipse has long ceased to
be a byword for just one language. As John K.Waters notes, the
“totally-not-Java” CDT Project, which provides a fully functional C
and C++ IDE, has been adopted as “the de facto standard development
of embedded systems.”

Moreover, its community growth has paralleled the rise
of the age of the developer, with the people at the forefront of
app deployment now firmly at the mission control deck when it comes
to steering what technologies are put into place.

Most recently, the Eclipse Foundation has emerged as a
‘centre of gravity’ for the brave new world of interconnected
devices – and some of the projects currently in development may
just well end up as the key cogs in a one-day universal network of
M2M devices.

So happy birthday Eclipse Foundation – and here’s to
another decade of open collaboration. Though there’s an endless
selection to sift through, we’ve cherry picked five noteworthy
Eclipse initiatives to mark this milestone anniversary :  

1) Orionan IDE,
for web devs, in the web

The objective of this project was to create a bespoke
IDE for web development – in the web, stocked with tools for
developing with JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. According to Co-Lead and
Ken Walker
, “The components differ from many other Eclipse
projects primarily because they’re written in JavaScript, CSS,
HTML5 and target modern browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari
and IE10. This is the initial target for Orion, web developers.”
 Ultimately, the team behind Orion want “to make the web
itself the development environment, instead of trying to bring
existing desktop IDE concepts to the browser”. It’s not intended as
a browser-based replacement for Eclipse, but as a new project for
web devs, stamped with all the hallmarks of Eclipse.

2) LocationTech
keeping pace with the rise of the mobile device :

Back in 2008, smart phones were taking their first
steps to world domination. And the key differentiator between them
and the ruling classes of laptops and PCs? Location, location,
location. With the rise of increasingly affordable, more powerful
portable devices, our attitude to the way we access and generate
data has fundamentally changed. Today, it’s all about real time
data – not asynchronous processing.  The LocationTech
Technology (LTT) project, geared towards germinating, nurturing,
and promoting location aware efforts in the LocationTech community,
aims to meet these new expectations. By targeting “clients” and
“servers” across embedded devices, desktops, and enterprise
systems, LTT projects provide those intermediate software services
which enable applications to be “more easily and concisely
constructed across these environments”.

3) PolarSysmaking
tools that will endure

Although not officially announced until 2011, the
development of Eclipse Industry Working Group PolarSys goes back to
2005. The interest of this group is to define, with key players
from industry, tool vendors, and academics, a common, integrated
and sustainable technological platform for software-critical
systems, which meets the industry’s needs. Through this move for
federation of shared components, the days when companies are forced
to ‘reinvent the wheel’ time and time again will hopefully be
numbered. Additionally, with this encouragement of open innovation
comes better methods and tooling, certification to simplify the
process of tools qualification in painful certification processes,
and support that spans generations, allowing Embedded Systems and
tools to be maintained for over 40 years.

4)  Vert.xtestament to the power
of the community

Vert.x is described by Tim Fox as ‘the framework for
the next generation of asynchronous, effortlessly scalable,
concurrent applications’. But what sets it apart is its
receptiveness to other languages. It’s an event-driven application
framework and runs on the JVM, which then exposes the API in Ruby,
Java, Groovy and JavaScript. The choice is indeed yours – you can
even mix and match. Although it began life as an external project,
we’ve chosen to include it here, as it’s a great example of what
makes the Eclipse community so appealing. When the decision was
made to port Vert.x across to Eclipse in January 2013, Fox noted that,
“For the project to continue to flourish with a vibrant community
it’s important that the project is hosted in a neutral organisation
where the aims of any one commercial entity cannot steer the
project. We believe the project is owned by the community and it’s
up to the community, led by the project lead, to determine the
course of the project.”

5) Paho, Mihini & Koneki
underpinning the IoT:

Many contemporary Eclipse projects are geared towards
getting the IoT off the ground. In an interview with eWEEK in 2013,
Ian Skerrett, Eclipse Foundation Director of Marketing, emphasised
that the foundation is, “set on establishing an open-source
software ecosystem for M2M and Internet of
Things (IoT)
development.” He added that, “If there really is
going to be an Internet of Things where all these different devices
and things are talking to each other, there really needs to be some
open standards in place…We want to be the home for those
standards.” Enter  Paho, Mihini and Koneki, three active Eclipse
IoT projects which are helping to turn the buzz around the
inevitable dawning of a world of interconnected objects into a
reality. To find out more, check out this JAX video, which
describes the Eclipse Foundation’s work with Paho, an
implementation of MQTT, the lightweight, scalable, messaging system
for connected devices and the Internet of Things.


Image by Omer Wazir

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