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Eclipse: Article

Eclipse: The Story of Web Tools Platform 0.7

J2EE Development the Eclipse Way - Its Scope, Design Principles, Architecture, Ecosystem, and Plans

The standards arena is very active and as existing standards are revised and new standards defined WTP will support them based on their market relevance. There may also be a migration of de facto standards to the de jure quadrants. WTP's charter may expand in the future to include new sub-projects. However, immediately, WTP consists of the WST and JST sub-projects.

The WTP Ecosystem
WTP has the dual goals of providing both tools for the developer community and a platform for tool vendors to extend. Satisfying the needs of vendors requires that WTP define a set of platform APIs. The significance of a platform API is that it will be preserved in future releases. This means that a plug-in that runs in WTP 0.7 will also run - without recompilation - in future versions of WTP. The stability of platform APIs is key to vendor adoption. Clearly if WTP changed its APIs from release to release, vendors would expend significant effort reacting to the changes, and this would slow the rate at which users and vendors move to new versions of the platform.

WTP relies heavily on the user community for testing, bug reports, and enhancement requests, and the development of the user community is one of our main focuses this year. The WTP Web site has tutorials, articles, presentations, and event information. WTP will be well represented on the conference circuit this year. Look for upcoming WTP presentations at events such as EclipseWorld, JavaOne, and the Colorado Software Summit. There are also a couple of WTP books in the works. A thriving user community is a magnet for vendors. As the WTP user community grows so will the number of tools built on it.

Finally, WTP has a role to play in education. Since WTP is free Open Source and supports industry standards, it's an ideal learning tool for the coming generation of J2EE developers. I hope to see universities, community colleges, and even high schools use it for teaching.

The WTP contributor community is drawn from both vendors and users. There are many ways to contribute. You can start by downloading WTP, kicking the tires, and telling your friends about it. If you find a problem or have an idea, open a Bugzilla report. Monitor the newsgroup, and share your solutions to problems with others. If you can write, submit a tutorial or contribute to the online Help system. If you have fixed a problem, submit a patch. If you have time to work on WTP, check Bugzilla for open problems or look at the WTP Help Wanted page. And after you have established a track record of valuable contributions, you can be voted in as a committer.

What's Next?
WTP 0.7 is scheduled for release in July 2005. We are planning to follow that with WTP 1.0 later in the year. The focus of WTP 1.0 will be on the further development of platform APIs to enable the first wave of products based on WTP. Following that, WTP 1.5 will be released with Eclipse 3.2 in 2006. Candidate items for WTP 1.5 include support for revisions of major specifications such as J2EE 5.0, SOAP 1.2, and WSDL 2.0, as well as new JSRs and Web Service specifications.

We also expect the shape of WTP to change as new projects emerge and mature at Eclipse. New vendors are joining Eclipse and projects are being created at a rapid clip. For example, the data tools in WTP will move into a new Data Tools Project. Technology projects such as those proposed for EJB 3.0 and JSF will likely move into WTP as they mature.

A Final Word
Like all Open Source projects, the success of WTP depends on the contributions of an enthusiastic community. The project is still in its formative stage and there's much work to do. The project needs users, testers, writers, developers, speakers, trainers, mentors, evangelists, extenders, distributors, and leaders. If you are interested in J2EE development, then please consider this article as your formal invitation to join the WTP community.

More Stories By Arthur Ryman

Arthur Ryman is a Senior Technical Staff Member and Development Manager at the IBM Toronto Lab. He is currently the lead of the Web Standard Tools subproject of the Eclipse Web Tools Platform project. His previous development projects include Rational Application Developer, WebSphere Studio Application Developer, and VisualAge for Java. He is a member of the W3C Web Services Description Working Group and is an editor of the Web Services Description Language 2.0 specification. He is a co-author of the book, "Java Web Services Unleashed".

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