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Mike Milinkovich’s Year in Eclipse

Chris Mayer
year-in-eclipse-20121

We sit down with the Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation to discuss the past, present and future of the OSS group.

It’s been another busy year for the Eclipse Foundation, with
their biggest simultaneous release so far, Juno, the launch of a
new web-based IDE, Eclipse Orion 1.0 and controversy over the
performance of Eclipse 4.2.

We sat down with Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation
Mike Milinkovich to discuss the past, present and future of
Eclipse.

JAX: What are your personal highlights for yourself and Eclipse
throughout 2012?

For me, the two most important milestones in 2012 were shipping
Eclipse 4.2 as the platform for the Juno release, and shipping
Orion 1.0. Both of these events are about the future of the Eclipse
community. Eclipse 4.2 is a significant re-factoring and redesign
of the Eclipse platform which has been more-or-less stable since
2004.  Orion is a completely new tooling platform for the web,
which offers the ability to work on your code from a browser. Both
of these represent the future of the Eclipse community and
ecosystem.

A third important milestone was SAP shipping its Netweaver Cloud
offering based on the Eclipse Virgo project. Having a major vendor
basing such a significant product on Eclipse runtime technologies
is a great endorsement of the work that the Eclipse RT community
has been doing for several years.

JAX: How proud were you to see the Association for Computing
Machinery (ACM) recognise Eclipse with the prestigious Software
System Award?

The ACM Software Systems Award was an amazing and well-deserved
recognition of the original Eclipse team. It is hard to over-state
the impact that Eclipse has had on the industry since it was
introduced in 2001. It has completely changed the software
development landscape by providing an extensible and open source
tooling platform. To win this award it’s not enough to simply dream
big. You need to build an industrial-quality implementation and see
worldwide adoption of your technology. John Wiegand, Dave Thomson,
Greg Adams, Philippe Mulet, Julian Jones, John Duimovich, Kevin
Haaland, Stephen Northover, and Erich Gamma were the leaders that
made that happen.

On a personal note, it was very gratifying to see many of my former
OTI colleagues and fellow Carleton University alumni winning such a
prestigious award.

JAX: How did EclipseCon/EclipseCon Europe go this
year?

Incredibly well. EclipseCon Europe in particular was the biggest
and best ECE yet. The feedback that we got from the attendees was
that EclipseCon Europe 2012 was the best EclipseCon ever. I am
already looking forward to EclipseCon in Boston in March, and
EclipseCon Europe in Ludwigsburg in October.

In 2013 we’re adding a third EclipseCon. EclipseCon France will be
held in Toulouse in June. We are expecting another great Eclipse
community event.

JAX: Eclipse Juno was the biggest release train yet, with 72
projects. Just how big a challenge was this logistically for the
Eclipse Foundation?

The release train process itself runs extremely well under the
leadership of David Williams. The fact that we run so much of this
as a distributed process, where each project is responsible for its
own work, is what makes the simultaneous release even possible.
Some refinements that we’ve put in place like the final quiet
period, have made the logistics of getting the mirrors ready and
the downloads set up, have made the Eclipse Foundation’s logistics
much more manageable than they were say five or six years ago.
Probably the biggest challenges are around the IP review process
managed by Janet Campbell and the release review process managed by
Wayne Beaton. Those two and their staff definitely worked hard to
make Juno possible.

JAX: It’s fair to say performance issues with the 4.2 platform
have dogged this release. What have you learnt from the
situation?

That our community is and will always be demanding. Which is a good
thing. All of us involved in Eclipse are committed excellence, and
our community keeps us honest. But I am definitely happy – even in
retrospect – with the decision to release Juno based on the new
Eclipse 4.2 platform. After two years of betas, we were not getting
the level of detailed feedback that we needed to continue to
improve the Eclipse 4 platform. Yes, we ended up with some
controversy. But in the end we are getting a faster and better
Eclipse with a more extensible, simple and modern
architecture.

JAX: How are the issues being addressed in
Kepler?

We’re not waiting for Kepler. These issues are being addressed now.
In fact, the team took the unprecedented step of releasing an
interim update on December 13th which addresses a great deal of the
performance issues. For those who are experiencing performance
issues, I highly recommend reading
wiki.eclipse.org/Platform_UI/Juno_Performance_Investigation
and
downloading the Eclipse UI Juno SR1 Optimizations referenced there.
Eclipse users can expect to have all of those performance
improvements included in the Juno SR2 release which will ship in
February.

JAX: Orion
recently went 1.0
– can you explain what Orion is, the thinking
behind launching it and whether this represents a completely new
frontier for Eclipse?

Orion is definitely a completely new frontier for the Eclipse
community. And I chose those words carefully, because the Orion
project actually has very little to do with what people know today
at Eclipse’s technology. To a certain degree, Orion is also
intended for a different audience, as we expect many of Orion’s
users to be web developers who have little or no experience with
the Eclipse IDE.

Orion is a new codebase that provides an open source web tooling
platform. As an editor it competes handily with tools like Cloud9
IDE and CodeMirror. But it is significantly more ambitious than
that, in that its real goal is to provide an extensible tool
integration platform which works with all of the major browser
platforms. Orion provides a simple URI-based approach to integrate
web tools into a workflow.

It is difficult to explain Orion to an Eclipse audience, because
without a demo it is hard to get past the preconceived notion that
it must be just like Eclipse in a browser. It’s not. Orion uses the
normal idioms of web navigation, and the browser as its platform to
deliver a very different set of navigation and development workflow
patterns. I highly encourage people to try it out at orionhub.org.

JAX: How is Eclipse Kepler shaping up for June
2013?

As I said earlier, the simultaneous release process works extremely
well. So far the process is operating smoothly. One major new
project coming in Kepler which deserves mention is Stardust, which
is a toolset and runtime for business process management. Check it
out at eclipse.org/stardust.

JAX: We’ve seen plenty of news regarding M2M at Eclipse over
the year – how pleasing is it to see these projects blossom, and
what plans are afoot for 2013? Will M2M play a big
part?

Watching new communities and projects come to Eclipse and become
successful is without a doubt my favourite part of the job.

Machine-to-machine, or the Internet of Things as you also sometimes
hear it referred to, is a major new technology trend which over
time is going to impact all of use. Web-enabled devices are going
to be a very large part of our existence in the near future. I
personally believe that it is critical that the technology which
drives M2M be completely open. This is both for philosophical and
ethical reasons as well as business reasons. Ethically, if we as
humans are going to be observed and measured by these communicating
devices we need to be able to know the code that’s in them, and
where the data is going. From a business perspective, the Internet
itself is an example of how a radically free and open architecture
has created massive opportunities. The future Internet of Things
needs to be at least as open as the Internet we know today.

I am expecting big things from the M2M community at Eclipse. We
already have an interesting collection of tools, frameworks and
protocols, and I believe there is much more to come.

JAX: Looking forward to 2013, key goals for the Eclipse
Foundation?

2013 is going to be a busy year! On the plate for the Eclipse
Foundation are CBI, LTS, and continuing work to grow our working
groups.

The Common Build Infrastructure (CBI) is a new service that we are
offering Eclipse projects. Since the beginning, Eclipse projects
have been responsible for creating and managing their own builds.
This has meant that we have a wide variety of build technologies
and solutions within the Eclipse community.  The CBI will
provide every Eclipse project an opportunity to have their builds
managed as a service by the Eclipse Foundation. We’ve invested a
lot in getting the Eclipse platform project moved to CBI, and in
2013 we hope that the majority of Eclipse projects are utilizing
this service.

The Long Term Support (LTS) program will offer Member companies the
ability to leverage a single, shared infrastructure for maintaining
Eclipse project releases. Currently Eclipse projects only do three
service releases: SR0, SR1 and SR2. This basically translated to
nine months of maintenance for Eclipse releases. Given that many
enterprise software companies offer years of support for their
Eclipse-based products, plus the increasing use of Eclipse runtime
technologies, this gap has been a significant issue for the Eclipse
ecosystem. By building a LTS forge the Eclipse Foundation will be
providing an important service to its community and commercial
ecosystem.

Eclipse working groups such as PolarSys, M2M, Automotive and
LocationTech have made a lot of progress in 2012. Next year we
expect to see more companies and projects participating in these
IWGs.

So as you can see, 2013 will be enormously busy for the Eclipse
Foundation, and for our community. I’m looking forward to the
challenges that next year will bring.

JAX: Thanks, Mike!

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