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"Eclipse 3.0 is a Great Leap Forward," Says JDJ's Dudney

Can Eclipse morph successfully into a universal platform for application integration?

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    Today the Eclipse Foundation announced general availability of the royalty-free 3.0 release of Eclipse - described by the Ottowa-based foundation as a platform "for tools integration, software modeling, and testing that has been broadly adopted by commercial vendors, academic institutions, and open technology developers."

    Bill Dudney, JDJ's Eclipse editor, commented, "I am very excited about the promise of Eclipse 3.0. With each new milestone release the platform has become richer in its feature set, better performing and generally more productive to use."

    "From the enhanced Java tools to the improved integration with Ant and other open source projects," Dudney continues, "Eclipse 3.0 is a great leap forward. In addition to enhancements to the Java developer tool box the whole plugin architecture has been updated to use the OSGi framework for managing plugins. Not only will this make it easier to manage the large number of plugins that are typically used by the average Java developer it will also make building plugins easier."

    "If you have not been following the milestone releases of Eclipse 3.0, it is definitely time to download a copy and get started," adds Dudney.

    Eclipse 3.0 is the cumulative result of 15 months of project investment by supporting members and the Eclipse community, continuing what the Foundation summarizes as "the commitment to implement open technology built upon established industry standards."

    Enhancements such as the following have been made to core facilities:

    • Enhanced the end user's 'out-of-the-box' experience
    • Streamlined installation for functionally powerful features with reduced complexity
    • Improved customization of menus and toolbars
    • Added new role and experience-based approaches for managing workbench features and facilities
    • Restructured the workbench to allow running underlying program facilities in the background in a multi-threaded environment.

    The aim of these enhancements is to help make Eclipse use "more convenient, consistent and responsive."

    Concurrent with this new release, the C/C++ Development Tools (CDT) project and the Hyades application verification and optimization project are shipping new versions.

    The Foundation states:

    "Eclipse was originally conceived as a universal platform for tools integration. Experience and feedback from users made it clear that Eclipse was also ideally suited for the construction of functionally-rich desktop applications."

    Features and facets that have been used as the core of Eclipse's object-oriented development technologies have been restructured and repackaged in 3.0, making it an open, extensible platform for application construction and integration. This includes Eclipse's window-based workbench GUI, the dynamic plug-in functional extension mechanism, help subsystem and update manager.

    When Java applications are constructed with Eclipse's Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) and deployed to different operating platforms, they adopt native window manager look and feel. On Linux Motif or the GTK, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Photon, AIX, HP/UX platforms, and other supported platforms, Eclipse users can develop applications in Java with the true look-and-feel of the platform.

    "We are very excited about the many benefits that Eclipse 3.0 will bring to our customers and are proud of the leading role IBM developers have had in bringing it to the industry. IBM is now working towards a release of Eclipse 3.0-based products of our market-leading Rational tools and Lotus collaboration solutions," says Lee Nackman, vice president, Desktop Development Tools and CTO Rational Software, IBM Software Group 

    "Eclipse 3.0 brings significant new features and functionality to the Eclipse ecosystem. Intel is actively developing versions of Intel Compilers and VTune Performance Analyzers with Eclipse integration for Linux. Intel is also taking an active role in Eclipse projects such as Hyades and looks forward to continued involvement with the Eclipse community," says Intel's Jonathan Khazam, General Manager of Software Development Products. 

    When used on the Linux and Windows platforms, Eclipse 3.0 adds the ability to embed Swing widgets in SWT-based user interfaces. This allows integration of Swing-based applications and tools within the Eclipse workbench and other functionally-rich applications. New features allow Eclipse plug-in providers to customize user interfaces and establish a branded appearance for products and applications.

    Java Development Tools

    The Java Development Tools (JDT) project has improved the user experiences of reading, writing, and navigating source code, adding improved refactoring, code formatting and editor features such as code folding.

    JDT has been generalized to enable tools that support Java-related languages like SQLj and JSPs. This includes implementation of the Java Community Process JSR45 standard for debugging. JDT also now embraces non-language files like manifests and J2EE deployment descriptors that reference Java language elements.

    Eclipse was adapted to add support for the OSGi framework specification when constructing functionally extensible applications. This open standard for plug-in extensions supports installation and dynamic activation under program control, permitting fine-grain conservation of resources like memory in complex integrated tools and client environments. In addition, the Eclipse Plug-in Development Environment now supports component integration for platforms that incorporate very large numbers of plug-ins.

    CDT and Hyades Project Updates

    Other Eclipse-hosted open projects have coordinated their distributions with the 3.0 launch. These include extensions to the C/C++ Development Tools and the Hyades Project's implementation of the recently approved OMG U2TP Test Profile standard.

    The C/C++ Development Tools (CDT) offer numerous enhancements to provide a faster, more productive user experience. To simplify code editing and navigation, the tools now include improved string searches, configurable code completion, a C/C++ class browser and a refactoring facility for automating code changes across an entire project. To speed application debugging, the debugger now presents both source code and assembly in the same view. To free developers from writing and maintaining makefiles, the CDT environment now includes a "managed build" feature.

    In addition, the CDT leverages the new multi-threading support in Eclipse 3.0. As a result, operations such as indexing and building can now run in the background, allowing the developer to continue working on other tasks.

    "Open Environment & Community Support Have Been Key," Says Milinkovich

    "Eclipse 3.0 brings new features which will delight plug-in and application developers that rely on this advanced platform," says Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation.

    "Thanks to community support only possible in an open environment, Eclipse 3.0 quality benefits from the skill and continuous evaluation of a large number of industry professionals worldwide," he adds. 

    Distributions of Eclipse 3.0 will be available by June 30 for download from www.eclipse.org.

    In the July issue of JDJ, Bill Dudney interviews Mike Milinkovich, who speaks about a wide variety of issues surrounding Eclipse, from the directions he sees it going in next to how the door is always open for Sun to join. In that exclusive interview, Milinkovich tells Dudney:

    "I personally think the entire conversation about Sun versus Eclipse is kind of missing the point. Sun is doing what they are doing in support of their shareholders and in their role as the steward of the Java community. Eclipse is doing what it is doing in its role as the steward of the Eclipse Open Source community. And to the degree possible, where we have congruent goals, we should be working together and I’d be thrilled to do so."

  • More Stories By Java News Desk

    JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

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