Eclipse builds a bridge between desktop and cloud development

Project Flux will give developers an infrastructure for easily moving back and forth between desktops and the cloud

The Eclipse Foundation is looking to bridge desktop- and cloud-based development with its Project Flux, driven by technologists from Pivotal and IBM and intended to produce an architecture and infrastructure for integrating development tools across the desktop, browsers, and servers.

"You can connect your Web-based tools to your desktop tools," said Eclipse Executive Director Mike Milinkovich. The back end of Flux could be described as "Dropbox for your code," he said, and code can be stored in the cloud and can be interacted with via a desktop- or browser-based IDE.

Project co-leader Martin Lippert, of Pivotal, said Flux is intended to provide "a fully smooth transition between the desktop IDE experience and the cloud tooling." By bringing together cloud and desktop tools, Flux addresses a problem in which there has been a poor developer experience in the cloud, project co-leader John Arthorne, of IBM, said. "You have all these great development tools on your desktop, but your runtime is over in the cloud."

The goal of Flux, according to its Eclipse proposal page, is to provide a flexible platform and infrastructure allowing cloud-based tooling components to be built that are decoupled from each other and bridge the gap to existing desktop IDEs at the same time. Flux also would boost Java development. "One of the things that Flux is going to do is provide first-class Java language support for a browser-based toolset," Milinkovich said.

EclipseCon attendee Werner Wild, a teacher at the University of Innsbruck, in Austria, liked what he saw in Flux, particularly its integration between local and cloud development environments. "[Flux] looked interesting because I think that lot of developers are starting right now to develop for the cloud, especially debugging," Wild said.

Flux is still in an early proposal stage and is expected to be launched as an official Eclipse project in the next couple of weeks. Early code is due then as well. Eclipse already has a Web-based editor and IDE called Orion, but Flux is different in that it is intended to enable developers to flow back and forth between the cloud and desktop, Milinkovich explained.

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