Annual Eclipse 'release train' arrives with Java EE 7, BPM backing

'Kepler' unleashess dozens of open source tools and upgrades, including Java EE 7 support

The arrival of late June means it's time for the Eclipse Foundation's annual "release train," featuring simultaneous releases of dozen of open source tools, including upgrades to previous projects. This year's release train, dubbed "Kepler," debuts on Wednesday, offering support for the latest version of enterprise Java, as well as a business management suite and NoSQL database capabilities.

"This year's release train has 71 projects in it, which is the same number as last year," said Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse executive director. "We are shipping 58 million lines of code and that was worked on by 420 committers from 54 different companies and organizations supporting them."

As part of Eclipse Web Tools Project 3.5, Kepler offers support for just-released Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (EE) 7, including capabilities for Java EE 7 schemas for validation and content assist, as well as import and export of EE 7 archives. Also featured in Kepler is Eclipse Stardust 1.0, a new business management suite. Tools and a runtime are provided for business process management. The project features a mature code base put into open source by BPM vendor SunGard, Milinkovich said.

Additional support for big data is included in Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) 4.3; BIRT application developers now can use the MongoDB and Apache Cassandra NoSQL databases. Kepler also offers version 3.0 of the Orion Web-based IDE, with key bindings for vi and emacs editors. "This is going to allow developers that are very familiar with those two editors to more easily use Orion," said Milinkovich.

Eclipse, which began as an IBM open source initiative for Java tools before being spun out of the company nine years ago, has established itself as a staple of open source technologies in the software development space. Initially seen as a rival to Sun Microsystems' dominance of Java, Eclipse has found its niche particularly in the IDE space, where its Eclipse IDE is a staple of the industry. Eclipse serves as a provider of base technologies that can be leveraged in commercial products. Eclipse averages about 1.8 million download requests per month, Milinkovich said. "There's literally thousands of products in the marketplace which are based on top of Eclipse."

A major revision of Eclipse's Java development tools project, including the mainstay Eclipse Java IDE, will happen in 2014, in support of the upcoming Java Platform, Standard Edition (SE) 8 release, which has slipped from a planned 2013 arrival until next year. IDE support will be added for language features such as Project Lambda, which provides for programming for multicore processors. Eclipse also has projects under way in machine-to-machine communications, including Koneki, which is a set of tools for developing with the Lua language and is part of Kepler.

This year's release was named after astronomer Johannes Kepler. Last year's release train was called Juno.

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