Reflections on EclipseCon

EclipseCon: Top Three Technologies


This year, after nearly ten years of active development involving Eclipse, I attended my first ever EclipseCon.

This year, after nearly ten years of active development involving Eclipse, I attended my first ever EclipseCon. I’ve spent most of my professional career in an academic setting, and I have to say that this conference certainly stood out. The Open Source concept makes for very good and interesting relations. Though the attendees of EclipseCon come from a wide range of software companies, all are rallied around this single platform for the mutual benefit of one-another. That leads to some really great innovation and a lot of exciting news. I would like to take a moment to highlight a few of what are, in my opinion, the top innovations and milestones that I was exposed to at this year’s EclipseCon. I had heard about them all before. But, hearing about them from the people who are working hard to turn them into real successes is a lot more impactful than what I can see on a blog or a wiki. So, without further ado, here they are:

3) Orion. It is still a very young project, but I will certainly be looking out for this one. I have to admit, with some shame, that I’m not that much of a Web developer. The Eclipse Web Tools are excellent and the people at Aptana keep pumping out great tools for those technologies that have become integral to the Web (PyDev beat out my own Diver tool for this year’s *Best Developer Tool* prize, and I’m sure they deserve it). Still, Eclipse as an IDE has lagged behind in its Web support.

Orion, however, may just change the way that the Web is done. It is becoming a platform that combines the great extensibility of plug-in patterns with a rich Web experience. It will be great to see how this project scales in the future as more contributions come in.

2) More focusing on tasks. For some reason, the term *Application Lifecycle Management* (ALM) seemed to be a buzz whenever I had a conversation this year at EclipseCon. ALM is a major focus of commercial tools such as IBM’s Rational Team Concert, but it hasn’t been a big focus of Open Source tooling. It was interesting to hear Tasktop Founder Mik Kersten talk briefly about plans to better integrate ALM into the Eclipse IDE through the use of the Mylyn tools. This year, Ph.D. student Michaela Greiler from the Delft University of Technology gave a talk about how Eclipse developers feel there is a gap in tool support for software development processes, especially in the areas of integration and system testing. Mylyn has certainly been one of the killer apps applied to Eclipse, so it will be interesting to see where this train goes.

1) E4. Before EclipseCon, E4, for me, was a distant vision of the future of Eclipse. The conference, however, brought the advancements of E4 to the forefront of my attention. The first session I attended was a tutorial on rich application development in E4. After that, I consumed as much E4 goodness as I could. The new model-driven design of the workbench and the use of dependency injection both promise to make it a lot faster and easier to write rich client applications based on Eclipse. I think that there is still a lot to do in the way of tooling, however. The modeling tools are great, but DI can be a little hard to follow. Maybe there is opportunity for synergy with the Guice team at Google?

On a more personal note, I was very impressed by the response of the participants after I gave my own talk entitled, *Put it in Reverse: Using Eclipse to Understand Code that has Already Been Written*. Wherever you go at EclipseCon, there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. Thanks to everyone for the input. I look forward to another great year of innovation at Eclipse.

Del Myers is a masters student in the department of computer science at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He has worked in the programming industry and in academia. He is interested in finding ways to make the work of software developers easier and his previous research projects include finding ways to aid novice programmers in their learning and finding ways to support traceability and programmer communication through tags in software. In his spare time, he writes music and volunteers with local youth organizations.

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