Eclipse to stress component, runtime efforts

Open source foundation's conference this week also to feature Eclipse holdout Microsoft, which is expected to announce a collaboration arrangement

The Eclipse Foundation will branch out in the realm of component-oriented software development and also unveil an umbrella project unifying several runtime initiatives.

The efforts will be featured at the EclipseCon 2008 conference in Santa Clara, California Conference highlights also include a presentation by an executive from Eclipse holdout Microsoft on Wednesday.

Eclipse's component development plan, called CODA (Component Oriented Development and Assembly), hinges on Eclipse's Equinox, which is the foundation's OSGi-based runtime and a part of the new Eclipse Runtime (RT) project. CODA is a methodology on how to build and deploy applications, Eclipse said. Equinox is runtime platform software focused on Java and supporting the concepts of CODA, the foundation said.

Eclipse RT serves as a top-level project to house runtime efforts in the Eclipse community. Featured will be six sub-projects, including: Equinox; Eclipse Communication Framework for development of distributed tools and applications; EclipseLink, providing object-relational persistence services; and Rich AJAX Platform for building AJAX applications. The other two subprojects include Swordfish, offering an SOA framework, and Riena for building an enterprise desktop with capabilities like the ability to access transaction and database systems.

Also on tap at the conference is the introduction of an Equinox community portal to educate developers on Equinox, OSGi, and Eclipse runtime projects. OSGi has served as the basis for the Eclipse plug-in model, in which the Eclipse IDE is extended via plug-ins offering different capabilities.

Eclipse's moves this week show the foundation's intentions to provide an alternative Java component development model as well as extend Eclipse technology to servers, said analyst Michael Cote, of RedMonk. "It's obviously the intent to start doing more middleware," with projects like EclipseLink, Cote said.

With CODA, Eclipse is trying to solve the problem of doing modular development with Java, he said. "We've always tried to have components in Java, but we haven't quite fixed that yet," Cote said.

Equinox and CODA provide advantages in component-oriented development because Equinox is based on OSGi, a component model spanning platforms and architectural tiers, Eclipse said. OSGi also can be used in mobile and embedded devices and desktop and server applications. Other component models tend to be operating system-specific or tied to a specific deployment tier, Eclipse said.

Developers using Equinox can assemble and customize the application and runtime platform; also, a standard integration mechanism is provided to link to partner and customer solutions.

CODA presents a new concept in application development, said Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse executive director. It features a component assembly not only for assembling application components, but also for assembling components of the underlying runtime, he said. Developers could assemble just the pieces they need.

"The benefit is the solution that you deploy will be smaller, more lightweight and more scalable," Milinkovich said. More applications could be run on the same machine and performance would be boosted, he said, also noting that components could be assembled into solutions and deployed at runtime. "The idea is to take the Eclipse plug-in model and to use that for developing and delivering runtime applications, where in the past, the focus has primarily [been] on tools."

Eclipse RT pools resources around a single theme. "We're pulling all these into a single top-level project at Eclipse so that we can help these projects come together and work together more [efficiently]," Milinkovich said.

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