Eclipse Gains a Pulse

Genuitec next month will launch PoweredByPulse, a new provisioning service for Eclipse plug-ins.

A new service from Genuitec will greatly simplify finding, assimilating and using the myriad plug-ins that support the Eclipse open-source development platform.

Eclipse users have long said that installing and distributing Eclipse plug-in software is not easy. Genuitec, of Flower Mound, Texas, which makes the popular MyEclipse tool, will deliver PoweredByPulse, a free service that company executives said could become the de facto mechanism for provisioning software, whether commercial, free or mixed. Genuitec plans to announce this service at the Eclipse World conference, which runs Nov. 6-8 in Reston, Va.

"Our initial focus will be exclusively on Eclipse-based software, but later iterations may branch into both provisioning of Eclipse workspaces and non-Eclipse software," said Todd Williams, vice president of technology and co-founder of Genuitec.

Pulse will accomplish this first goal by facilitating the easy blending of both free and commercial solutions into individualized software distributions—or customized "profiles"—that users can create for their own use and share with others.

Williams said users in specific industries and vertical markets can use the service to tailor industry profiles and to share the profiles they create with others. He said Pulse will solve the two primary problems with Eclipse technology: "plug-in hell" and "tool bloat."

With the PoweredByPulse service ensuring that appropriate versions of all required plug-ins are provisioned with each configured profile, "plug-in hell" will cease to exist since what was once an error-prone manual task will be performed automatically and correctly by Pulse, Williams said.

In addition, as users will be able to automatically create multiple profiles that include only the features needed for a particular task—rather than manually crafting one super-tool that consumes all resources—"tool bloat" will be a thing of the past, he said.

Other features of the PoweredByPulse service include: a small initial installation footprint of 2MB; fast installations available through optimized use of mirrors and simultaneous downloading of components; rich user experience in Eclipse RCP (Rich Client Platform)-based client for a positive experience and ease of use; PoweredByPulse branding, along with maintaining product branding through use of "splash fades;" desktop integration with customizable program group and desktop icons to enable fast profile launches; and cross-platform capability with Windows and Linux in November and Macintosh to follow.

The user interface provides customizable areas for detailed product descriptions, cross-sell, rating and redirect opportunities, and it facilitates sharing of profiles through private by-invitation groups—similar to IM clients—and also allows completely anonymous use of non-customizable profiles to encourage people to try the product, Williams said

PoweredByPulse is based on the Eclipse Maya project, an incubation project now known as Maynstall—pronounced "may install"—that will take a first step in providing the provisioning services required to allow organizations to leverage the Eclipse platform for both internal and external tooling built on top of Eclipse.

The project will promote a centralized deployment model for Eclipse, in contrast to the standard Eclipse update mechanism, which is designed to empower each individual client and by association user, Eclipse officials said.

The goal of the Maynstall project is to provide extensible frameworks and an exemplary application to enable automated deployment of Eclipse-based product installations by building on services within Eclipse Equinox and content exposed via update sites. The platform will be extensible, allowing it to be leveraged in multiple deployment modes—such as commercial software distribution—beyond those directly implemented within the project, Eclipse officials said. Maynstall enables automated distribution of the Eclipse platform as well as tooling and products built on top.

Tim Webb, Pulse product manager at Genuitec, joined the company in June from Cisco Systems, which contributed much of the foundational code for the Maya project. Webb is the technical lead for the project.


Click here to read an interview with Mike Milinkovich, head of the Eclipse Foundation.

"We did a lot of customization on top of Maynstall," Webb said of Genuitecs efforts. He brought a lot of the tech savvy to make the Pulse effort happen.

Williams said that although Eclipse is widely used, "its very difficult for an end user to begin using. Putting together a set of tools everybody can use is quite hard right now. And by creating this delivery channel, we show people whats available and they can create profiles."

Moreover, "the fact that we have a portal like this will draw all eyes to it," Williams said. "The more eyes we gain, the more people will be trying our software."

However, he also said Genuitec is looking at working with partners on the effort and, eventually, at delivering an enterprise version of the technology. "Well be working with our commercial partners for them to help fund the ongoing project," he said. "Therell be a monetization element. Well enable commercial partners to allow people to download their products."

Webb said that when Cisco, of San Jose, Calif., contributed the Maya technology to Eclipse, "we did it out of an enterprise provisioning model."

Williams said once the Pulse technology is "out there and proven, theres an opportunity to provide an enterprise model as well."


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