Eclipse Pulsar still holds potential for mobile application development

Pulsar has been held back by the perception that it is a Java IDE, say panelists at ElipseCon, where OSGi efforts also will be featured

Eclipse Pulsar, an Eclipse project aimed at addressing fragmentation in mobile application development, has been held back by the perception that it is just for Java development, but it still offers potential, panelists said Monday evening at the annual EclipseCon technical conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

Panelists discussing mobile application development at the event pondered Pulsar, which was unveiled roughly a year ago and was intended to provide a standard tools integration platform for mobile development. Backers have included Motorola, Nokia, Research in Motion, and Sony Ericsson. Panelists cited Pulsar's shortcomings and considered ways to make it -- and the accompanying Eclipse Project Sequoyah mobile tools effort -- a better brand.

[ Also at EclipseCon Monday, Red Hat bolstered SOA and application development technologies. | Check out InfoWorld's coverage of the Eclipse Gemini project, which also will be addressed at EclipseCon this week. | Keep up with app dev issues and trends with InfoWorld's Fatal Exception blog. ]

Vendors could work together to create a value for developers using Pulsar, said Christian Kurzke, Android analyst and tools architect at Motorola. Pulsar currently is lacking in this regard, he explained.

"If somebody wants to develop an Android application, what's in [Pulsar] for them" as opposed to using Google's tools, Kurzke asked.

But Pulsar could make it possible to share code and assets among different mobile development platforms, he said.

"Part of [the issue] is the perception that [Pulsar] is a Java IDE, that it's got a narrow focus, but actually it's wider," said Eric Cloninger, senior product manager for Motorola and lead of the Eclipse Sequoyah project, in an interview after the panel session.

Nurturing Eclipse mobile tools could help Eclipse participants compete with Apple's popular iPhone, according to panelist Paul Beusterian, head of development tools for the Symbian Foundation.

Also at EclipseCon this week, the Eclipse Foundation is accepting two projects centered on the OSGi dynamic module system for Java. Projects include Eclipse Gemini, intended to provide an open source reference implementation of specific OSGI Alliance Enterprise standards, and Eclipse Virgo, offering a modular runtime based on the Eclipse Equinox runtime and OSGI. Virgo supports server-side enterprise applications deployed as OSGi bundles. SpringSource will lead Virgo, which was based on the SpringSource's  discontinued dm Server product. Oracle will lead the Gemini effort.

Both projects will be part of the EclipseRT (runtime)  community, Eclipse said.

OSGI Alliance standards focused on Gemini cover the requirements of a large enterprise's use of a modular framework for building applications, Eclipse said.

"The idea [with Gemini] is that as a subproject of the runtime project, people can pick up Gemini and use it on an as-needed basis," said Mike Keith, an architect at Oracle, during an EclipseCon presentation Monday afternoon.  Gemini, he said, features a collection of subprojects offered under both Eclipse and Apache licenses.

Eclipse has been a longtime proponent of OSGi.

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