EclipseCon Starts Next Week

Jessica Thornsby

With EclipseCon 2010 just around the corner, JAXenter caught up with this year’s Program Chair Oisin Hurley, to get a sneak-preview of what we can expect from EclipseCon 2010, and to get his predictions on which Eclipse projects and technologies will make an impact this year…

JAXenter: EclipseCon is kicking off next week. Can you tell us, what makes EclipseCon special?

Oisin Hurley: When it comes to conferences for the Eclipse devotee, EclipseCon is the biggest Eclipse conference, with the most diverse collection of content, the biggest buzz and the most anticipated event of the Eclipse developer’s year. There are free tutorials, lots and lots of talks in different formats as well as panels, and this year we are introducing an Unconference. You can get to meet practically all of the most well-known committers and project leads, listen to their talks and ask them questions about their projects and developments. Also, some of us who live in rainy countries get to experience some California weather, which is a nice bonus!

JAXenter: Who is EclipseCon aimed at?

Oisin Hurley: The Eclipse Community is very varied – Eclipse is a platform that is created by a diverse set of committers and contributors of all levels of ability. Because of the platform’s nature, there is yet another community of developers who use the platform to build even more capabilities and value into products of their own making. These consumers give Eclipse the scale-out that is needed to achieve the resounding level of success that Eclipse has reached. In between the developer elements, there are those that contribute to the enhancement of the community, either through creation of educational or documentary content, as well as project, product and community managers. So you can see that while many might just think of developers when they think of Eclipse, in fact the Eclipse community is a huge collection of people in many roles. All of these people share the bond, that the Eclipse Community is where they have decided to apply their expertise.

JAXenter: What are the main themes for this year’s conference? Should we be expecting any big changes, for EclipseCon 2010?

Oisin Hurley: I have the honour this year of being the Program Chair for EclipseCon, and it was my intention to change the way that we constructed the program. There are three major themes to the conference : Making With Eclipse, Making For Eclipse and Making Community. These three themes echo the community structure, aiming themselves at consumer developers, committer/contributor developers and the community in general. The idea of introducing broad themes like these was to break down the striated project-specific structure that we had operated for the last couple of EclipseCons, giving our attendees the opportunity to spread their knowledge net wider and learn more from projects and efforts that may not be directly associated with their chosen platform elements. I’m hoping that this means they have room to explore the ecosystem more and discover new and valuable things.

We did break with some of the previous conference structures. We used to have tutorials only on Monday. Now there are tutorials every morning. In the middle of the day we have talks – we have set the standard talk length to twenty-five minutes, with the intention of providing more content and encouraging presenters to weed out the unnecessary elements of their submissions. We’ve kept a longer format and lightning format talks, but fewer of them. Towards the end of the day, we have panel sessions, where we hope to explore some thorny topics in public with a collection of experts. Finally, in the evening, we have a new venture – the Unconference. This is like a speakers’ corner – anyone can talk, there is no pre-allocated slots, and you can get up there and give your opinion, or introduce something that you think is cool.

A conference day is always a long day, so the concept behind this new structure is that attendees get education in the morning when their brain is ready to lear;, they get entertainment and information with the talks; they get to give feedback and interact directly with the experts during the panels and finally, they get their own say at the Unconference. No-one likes to listen for the whole day without giving something in return, so you can see the balance of communication, which is focused on the presenters at the start of the day, and then shifts to the attendees at the end of the day.

One thing we haven’t changed are the keynotes – these are long talks that kick off first thing in the morning, and help to entertain, motivate and inspire presenters and attendees alike. This year we have Robert Martin on Software Professionalism, Jeet Kaul and Steve Harris on the future of Java at Oracle, and Jeff Norris on NASA systems built with Eclipse.

Finally, and once again new, the Eclipse Foundation, in collaboration with NASA JPL are organizing a competition where developers vie to create the best guidance software for a robot in a prototypical Mars terrain. There will be prizes!

JAXenter: There is currently some debate in the community, about how to raise the value of the Eclipse Foundation membership. What are your thoughts on this matter?

Oisin Hurley: In a market contraction, everyone starts looking for more value, so it’s no surprise that the community is debating this, at this time. In fact, I think this is a debate that should be permanently ongoing as organizations and their approaches relentlessly change. One thing I know is that the Eclipse Foundation board and staff are very familiar with this issue, and we have seen them innovating around membership categories and fees over the last couple of years. I’m confident that the forward-thinking members on the board will help force the Foundation through the changes necessary to continue to be successful for years to come.

JAXenter: In your opinion, which Eclipse technologies and projects will be particularly important for the eclipse ecosystem in the upcoming year?

Oisin Hurley:The mantra is : Runtime, Modeling, e4. These are the three most visibly important elements of the Eclipse ecosystem’s growth. But there are more elements behind the scenes. Simply building Eclipse products and projects is a vital foundation stone that needs to be laid before you can add higher-level function. Right now, there are something like five different ways to do this. The question is – should we have only one way? That question needs to be answered in the next year – adopter choice will be vital. Another one is the new Graphiti project for graphical editor construction, which will give another approach to creating advanced Eclipse editors. Finally, from a sluggish start, Eclipse has become very keen on adopting the Git distributed revision control system – having bulletproof built-in support for that source control system will be vital to ensure the success of that adoption.

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