Eclipse shines light on cloud-based app dev

Eclipse Cloud Development initiative looks to host browser-based development tools in the cloud

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The Eclipse Foundation on Monday will unveil a cloud initiative to better accommodate browser-based software development.

Backed by companies including IBM, Pivotal, and SAP, the Eclipse Cloud Development top-level project aims to provide a platform for running tools for development in the cloud.

"This is about developer tools migrating from the desktop to the cloud," Eclipse Executive Director Mike Milinkovich said in an interview. "We see a trend where more and more developers are interested in using browser-based tools where their development assets are stored in the cloud."

The effort features four projects, including the pre-existing Orion project led by IBM. Orion provides an IDE for interpreted languages such as JavaScript. Other projects include Che, led by Codenvy and providing a cloud-based development environment, particularly for compiled languages such as Java; Dirigible, led by SAP and featuring rapid application development for database-style applications; and Flux, from Pivotal, which integrates desktop and Web-based tools so changes in a desktop IDE are reflected in Web-based tools. Flux was discussed by Eclipse earlier this year, while Che and Dirigible are new.

Tools produced by the cloud project would reside in clouds such as OpenStack, Cloud Foundry, Amazon, or Bluemix, Milinkovich said.

Cloud-based tools provide advantages, including solving integration issues and offering zero deployment issues and faster upgrades, he said. The intent is that companies offering cloud platforms could start using the Eclipse project and tools in their own clouds, he added. "This is the start of what's probably a multiyear effort to transition developers from the desktop to the cloud."

In the meantime, Eclipse expects developers will want desktop tools integrated with cloud tools. "Most developers don't want to throw a big switch and leave all of their desktop tools tools behind. At least not at the moment," Milinkovich said.

Microsoft already offers lightweight coding in the cloud via its Visual Studio Online "Monaco" technology, which provides a browser-based IDE for the company's Azure cloud. Still in preview mode, Monaco is not an online version of the company's Visual Studio IDE, however.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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