Eclipse Helios technologies arrive on the release train

This year's train is the largest ever, featuring a Linux IDE package and improved support for JavaScript and Java Enterprise Edition 6

Just as late December brings Christmas, late June brings the annual "release train" from the Eclipse Foundation, and this year's train features the simultaneous release of project upgrades and new projects from 39 project groups.

Featuring more than 33 million lines of code based on the work of 490 developers, the Helios release on Wednesday is the largest ever from the seven-year-old release train series. Highlights include a Linux IDE package, an Eclipse Marketplace Client for accessing open source plug-in software, and improved support for JavaScript and Java Enterprise Edition 6.

[ InfoWorld's Paul Krill reported last week on the upgrades to the rival open source NetBeans platform. ]

"The major reason why we do these release trains is to help spur adoption of Eclipse technologies," said Eclipse Executive Director Mike Milinkovich. Shipping them on the same day makes adoption of the technologies easier, he said. Eclipse technologies can serve as the basis for commercial products that offer value-added capabilities on top of the base Eclipse software.

"The expectation is that the commercial ecosystem will add value on top of the Eclipse platform," Milinkovich said. Companies such as the Rational division of IBM and Instantations offer Eclipse-based tools, he noted.

Helios is Eclipse's response to the latest development trends, said analyst Michael Cote, of RedMonk.

"What I'm seeing here is Eclipse tracking some of the more popular development areas (Git, JavaScript) and filling in holes (like the Linux IDE)," Cote said.

To keep the high volume of Helios technologies from being too much to handle, Eclipse is offering 12 different packages geared to specific interests, such as the new Linux IDE and JavaScript development packages and Java and PHP development packages. The packages bundle Eclipse tools related to technology categories.

The Linux IDE package makes it easier for Eclipse developers to use a tool chain for building C/C++ applications for Linux, Eclipse said. The package features the new Linux Tools project with Eclipse integrations of Linux utilities such as GNU Autools, Valgrind, OProfile and LTTng.

The JavaScript Development Tools project featured in Helios includes a JavaScript debug framework for integrating JavaScript debuggers, such as Rhino and Firebug.

The Eclipse Marketplace Client offers an "app store" experience for installing plug-ins. The client makes it easier to find and install Eclipse software. "What's news is the tighter integration right in the IDE so [that it is] easier for developers find and install the plug-ins," Milinkovich said.

Other features of Helios include:

  • Support for the Git distributed version control system through the Eclipse EGit and JGit projects. EGit 0.8 inlcudes new Git repositories and support for fast forward merging and tagging.
  • The Web Tools Platform project introduces support for building and debugging applications written for Java EE 6 technologies including Servlet 3.0, JavaServer Faces 2.0, Java Persistence API 2.0, and Enterprise JavaBeans 3.1.
  • Xtext 1.0 is offered as a framework for building domain-specific languages. Performance and scalability has been improved by much as 30 times over previous versions.
  • Acceleo 3.0, for modeling, implements the Object Modeling Group Model-to-text specification and features a code generator IDE.
  • Version 3.6 of the Eclipse Java IDE.

The full list of Helios projects, including multiple projects from the 39 Helios project teams, can be found at the Helios section of Eclipse's Website, while Helios packages can be downloaded at Eclipse's download site.

Eclipse, Cote said, is likely to take more of a look at application development technologies for the mobile and cloud spaces.

"Mobile development is motivating a lot of developer technology choices nowadays and I expect helping out in that area is something Eclipse will be pressured to do more and more," Cote said. "Also, developers are starting to figure out what it means to develop for and deploy their applications to cloud scenarios -- shorter release cycles, taking on more operational concerns, etc. -- and that'll be another area that will quickly drive the tooling requirements to folks like Eclipse."

Helios does, however, feature Sequoyah 1.0, for mobile development.

Participants in developing Helios technologies include major vendors like IBM, Oracle, and SAP. Last year's release train, Galileo, featured 34 projects. Helios, a mythological name for the sun, is the first time an Eclipse release train was not named after one of the moons of Jupiter. Next year's release train is to be called "Indigo."

The Eclipse community, Milinkovich said, just bored of using Jupiter moon naming scheme.

This article, "Eclipse Helios technologies arrive on the release train," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter and on your mobile device at infoworldmobile.com.

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