Pulling into the platform

Can Eclipse Kepler get the platform back on track?

Chris Mayer

Java EE 7 support and Orion improvements are on the menu for the open source’s latest release train


It’s the time of year every Eclipse developer has marked down on their calendar. The fourth week of June of course signals the arrival of the annual release train, containing major updates for a number of projects within the Eclipse Foundation.

Kepler, the eighth annual package delivered by the foundation, may be its most important to date. Last year’s Juno release introduced a new development platform, e4, but performance issues left many frustrated.

Recognising the new environment’s shortcomings, the Eclipse Foundation has spent much of the past year rectifying problems in subsequent service releases, yet many chose to stick to the trusted 3.7 and 3.8 platforms despite this. The knock-on effect has been equally damaging to Eclipse, with a slump in user satisfaction according to this year’s Eclipse Community Survey.

Kepler gives Eclipse a chance to show that it is back on track. Without any benchmarks to hand, it is difficult to say whether this has been achieved, but by November 2012, an early build of 4.3 was shown to be faster than 3.8.

Kepler by numbers

  • 71 total projects (114 if you include subprojects contributing)

  • 428 committers from 54 supporting organisations

  • 48,000 commits

  • 4,786 OSGi bundles

  • 58 million lines of code

Holger Voormann has provided more details behind this year’s release train, as well as providing some handy graphics to show how it stacks up when compared to past releases.

The total number of projects for Eclipse Kepler remains at 71, the same number as Juno once EMF Query 2 had dropped out of the release train entirely. Given that Juno introduced 10 new projects, it seems disappointing on the face of it.

But there is plenty of change nonetheless. Three projects (Jetty, Virgo and Runtime Packaging) are not returning for this simultaneous release, while Eclipse’s JVM language Xtend merged with Xtext. Eclipse Director Wayne Beaton clarifies that Jetty isn’t formally part of the release train, but certain Jetty components remain in the Kepler repository, brought in as dependencies for other projects.

There are four release train newcomers in Kepler, which are:

Existing projects get a lick of polish as well, to acknowledge recent changes in the Java industry. The newest version of the Web Tools Platform supports app development with the newest enterprise version, Java EE 7, which Mike Milinkovich tells Application Development Tools is “the quickest” they’ve ever been able to support a Java EE version.

Another project that has made great strides in the past year is Eclipse Orion, the foundation’s fledgling browser-based tool platform. Orion breaks away from Eclipse’s regular Java desktop experience, as it is focused on web development, thus written entirely in JavaScript. The latest version, v3.0, however provides improved Java server infrastructure, which Project Lead Ken Walker says is as “important” as the JavaScript side. To do this, Orion has been rewritten to use Maven and Tycho and can now be deployed as a WAR file. Orion also supports a Git-based workflow.

Even some of the oldest Eclipse projects have been renovated. Eclipse BIRT, the BI and reporting toolkit which was part the first release train Callisto, has welcomed in big data, by supporting MongoDB and Cassandra databases in 4.3.

Almost all of the projects in Kepler have made the switch to Git, as requested by the foundation as they shut off CVS support at the end of 2012. Only 8 of the total 107 are still sticking with Subversion.

In conclusion, Eclipse Kepler looks like a stabilising release for the foundation, but also full of plenty new features for the modern software developer to try. You can download Kepler right now.

Stay tuned for an interview with Eclipse Executive Director, Mike Milinkovich tomorrow!

Image courtesy of perpetualplum

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments