Time to get social

Eclipse development to be hosted on GitHub

Chris Mayer

Projects may soon be allowed to host trunk on external services, says foundation boss after Vert.x “epiphany”.

Eclipse projects will be able to maintain their mainline development on third party hosting services, such as GitHub, in the near future, the Eclipse Foundation has revealed.

Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse’s Executive Director, revealed the news in his ‘Social Coding at Eclipse’ blogpost, in which he outlined a potential option for projects to move away from the foundation’s own servers to GitHub or Bitbucket.

The catalyst for this decision appears to be Vert.x – the asynchronous JVM framework which found its way to Eclipse earlier in the year. The project has been selected as the first candidate for the new process, with Milinkovich adding that the foundation wanted to “start small and continually improve”.  

Vert.x has been hosted on GitHub since its inception and, according to Milinkovich, “is one of the most watched Java projects [out] there.” The decision to keep it hosted on GitHub is a sensible one, given the headache that would come with moving the maturing project elsewhere.

The Executive Director goes on to explain that his team had “a bit of an epiphany” when discussing how to migrate Vert.x to the foundation.

“If Eclipse projects could mirror to GitHub, what would happen if we simply flipped things around and mirrored projects hosted at GitHub on’s git repos? After some discussion, we decided that this was a really good idea,” he said.

Previously, the idea of GitHub and Eclipse mixing was a non-starter. GitHub projects do not need a contributor license agreement, while the Eclipse Foundation do.

With the introduction of this new policy, projects will now be able to host their mainline development remotely, with all their code mirrored back into Eclipse’s Git repositories. Metadata, committer records and votes will be maintained in Eclipse’s project management infrastructure.

Milinkovich also points to Mikeal Rogers’ two year-old “Apache Considered Harmful” post, as leaving a lasting impression on him and the Eclipse community. “His key point that open source foundations need to change to maintain their relevance resonated strongly with us,” he explained.

In the past two years, numerous initiatives have been introduced to embrace social coding, particularly with Git. Last December, the Eclipse Foundation migrated nearly all of Eclipse’s projects to Git, shutting off CVS support. The intention at the time was to remove barriers to contributions and also allow Eclipse to mirror projects on GitHub. In February 2012, the open source foundation also adopted Gerrit, the ubiquitous code review tool in use at Android and OpenStack.

30.3% of those surveyed in the recent Eclipse Community Survey are using Git as their primary source code management system. While Subversion is still holding a slender lead, it is expected to succumb to the rise of Git in the coming year.

Image courtesy of Cameron McEfee

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