Eclipse planning an upgrade

The upgrade to the Eclipse development platform will feature web enablement and less complexity

A planned upgrade to the Eclipse software development platform, called Eclipse 4.0, is expected to feature Web enablement and less complexity.

Due in two years, Eclipse 4.0, or e4, was the subject of a presentation at the EclipseCon 2008 conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Wednesday. It also was discussed by Mike Milinkovich, executive director of Eclipse, in an interview on Tuesday. He said e4 is not even started as a project yet. "It is theoretical at this point," said Milinkovich.

But plans are proceeding.

"I think it's really important for the Eclipse code base to move out to the Web to get involved in that space because the world's changing," said Mike Wilson, an Eclipse Project Management Committee member representing Platform and Incubator projects, in Wednesday's presentation.

Other improvements suggested include making it easier to write and deploy new plug-ins and extending the development of Eclipse plug-ins to other languages besides Java. "If you're not a Java programmer, you can't build plug-ins right now," said Wilson.

More pervasive use of scripting is eyed for platform; JavaScript and ActionScript tooling are desired for e4.

Building a better desktop, making it easier to modify Eclipse, and fixing pain points also will be focuses. While the presentation showed intended directions for e4, Wilson stressed that Eclipse is open to suggestions on where the platform goes and would like to start talking to the community at large.

Ideas from the Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform, for building AJAX-enabled (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) applications, also will be featured in e4. The Eclipse application model planned for e4 is set to feature a well-defined and documented set of services and a REST-ful (Representational State Transfer) architecture.

Presenters also stressed that the Eclipse SDK 4.0 should be able to run existing Eclipse 3.x plug-ins and provide an upgrade path to 4.0. But an audience member expressed concerns about backward compatibility.

"Do you think it's going to be the case that most existing plug-ins [will] be broken a bit or only a few plug-ins will be broken? What's that look like," the audience member asked.

"If you've got an API-clean plug-in, it should work," meaning plug-ins using the Eclipse API, Wilson responded.

In another Eclipse-related development, Milinkovich said the Eclipse Ganymede release train, which offers synchronized releases of 24 Eclipse projects, is due on June 25. Last year's release train was called Europa while the 2006 release was known as Callisto.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.