Meet the OSGi Enterprise Tools Eclipse Project

OSGi Enterprise Tools Interview

Jessica Thornsby

Kaloyan Raev: ‘the goal of the project is to address the need of tools for development of enterprise applications using the OSGi component model.’

The latest project proposal at looks to bridge the
gap between PDE and WTP. In this interview, we speak to initial
committer to the project Kaloyan Raev, to find out

JAXenter: What is the OSGi Enterprise Tools

Kaloyan Raev: The OSGi Service Platform
Specifications were originally created for the embedded systems.
But over time it turned out that the OSGi component model is
suitable also for development of larger modular systems and
therefore embraced by the majority of the popular application
servers today. Following this success, the OSGi Alliance extended
the OSGi Service Platform with a set of Enterprise Specifications
to address the use cases of the enterprise business scenarios.

The OSGi Enterprise Tools project has been recently proposed by
SAP to the Eclipse community. The goal of the project is to address
the need of tools for development of enterprise applications using
the OSGi component model.

The project is currently in proposal phase according to the
Eclipse Development Process. In this phase a project proposal is
publicly discussed in the Eclipse community to get feedback for the
purpose and scope of the project. We have extremely positive
response by the community. The proposal document has already been
updated several times to reflect the provided feedback. Three
companies expressed interest in joining the project – Eteration,
EclipseSource and SpringSource/VMWare. I expect that the
discussions will be finalized in November and the project will be
officially created as an Eclipse open source project.

JAXenter: What gap does the project aim to
fill, that is not already addressed by either PDE or WTP?

Kaloyan Raev: Both the Eclipse Plug-in
Development Environment (PDE) and the Eclipse Web Tools Platform
(WTP) projects provide excellent tooling with regards to their
project’s scope. PDE was originally designed for development of
Eclipse plug-ins. When the Eclipse Platform moved its component
model to OSGi, this toolset naturally became suitable for
development of OSGi bundles. In parallel, WTP enables application
developers with first class Java EE tools.

But, the tooling of PDE and WTP were used independently – one
either uses PDE for development of OSGi bundles, or WTP for
development of Java EE applications. If one needs to develop Web
Application Bundles, then PDE and WTP cannot be easily used
together out of the box. The OSGi Enterprise Tools aims to fill
exactly this gap – to “marry” PDE and WTP by adding the missing
pieces for easier development of OSGi enterprise projects.

JAXenter: How will Virgo Tools components, be
integrated into the OSGi Enterprise Tools project?

Kaloyan Raev: There have already been
discussions with the Virgo team about their plans for contributing
the Virgo Tools to Eclipse. The Virgo team at SpringSource decided
to actively join the OSGi Enterprise Tools project.

However, because the Virgo Tools is quite a big contribution,
they will first donate the code as a monolithic project under the
Eclipse Runtime top-level project. After a successful IP review,
they will start refactoring the code, so any generic parts, that
are not specific to the Virgo runtime, will go either to the PDE
project or to the new OSGi Enterprise Tools project. At the end,
only the Virgo-specific tooling will remain under the Eclipse
Runtime project with excellent integration with the other Eclipse
tools for OSGi development.

JAXenter: What tools will the project initially
aim to provide?

Kaloyan Raev: As I mentioned previously there
are several companies that will take active part in the project.
Each of them is already focused on a problem area of their greatest
pain points.

SAP will initially contribute an OSGi Bundle facet that will
integrate a major part of the PDE and WTP tolling to work together.
Eteration will work towards easier deployment of the OSGi
Enterprise applications on the variety of the OSGi frameworks
available today – Apache Felix, Eclipse Equinox and Knoplerfish.
EclipseSource will focus on improvements of the RAP deployment
scenario by providing a feature for WAR deployment of Server Side
Equinox applications.

The initial contribution is just the first milestone of the
project. Then we will focus on integrating everything that we have
from the different parties and align them with the other tools that
we have in the Eclipse community. A major goal of the project is to
not develop any replacement of existing tooling in the PDE and WTP
projects. If the latter two have any limitations, we will do the
best effort to address them directly in the relevant projects.

JAXenter: Currently, SAP is involved in various
Eclipse modeling and OSGi projects.
What is the reason for that?

Kaloyan Raev: The core business of SAP has
always been on delivering of first class enterprise software
products and solutions to our customers. Building blocks – like
application servers, development tools and build infrastructure –
have never been products by their own in the SAP portfolio. Over
the years we realized that there is no sense in making huge
investments to develop such base technologies as a proprietary
software, since this does not contribute any key differentiators to
our products.

With the start of the development of the Next Generation of SAP
NetWeaver, we have the opportunity of replacing lots of our
building blocks with alternatives from the open source community.
We take the smarter approach of investing the efforts, that we
would otherwise spend on proprietary development, to the best open
source project that we can later consume for our own products. We
are also reviewing some of our best technologies that are still
needed for our future projects, but there are no suitable open
source alternatives, and contribute them to the Eclipse community
with the intention to continue their development as open source

SAP is taking big steps increasing involvement with the Eclipse
and Apache communities. This is a trend that is going to continue
in the next years too. The OSGi Enterprise Tools project is yet
another cornerstone in the SAP open source strategy.

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