Eclipse Helios Train Comes Loaded with Developer Delights

The Eclipse Foundation has delivered its annual simultaneous release of key open-source projects. This year's release train is code named Helios and includes 39 projects, over 33 million lines of code, and input from nearly 500 committers.

The Eclipse Foundation has delivered its annual simultaneous release of key open-source projects. This year's release train is codenamed Helios.

Delivered on June 23, the Helios coordinated release of the major Eclipse projects, includes 39 different project teams, more than 33 million lines of code and the work of 490 committers - 108 of which were individuals and not companies or teams. There were 44 different companies that contributed to the Helios release. The release train makes it easier for users and adopters of Eclipse technology to adopt new versions of Eclipse projects. The coordinated Helios release, also known as Eclipse 3.6, allows Eclipse users and adopters to take advantage of the innovations and new features created by the different Eclipse projects and provide a transparent and predictable development cycle.

Helios is the largest release train produced by the Eclipse community to date. Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovich said 2010 marks the seventh year in a row that Eclipse has shipped a coordinated platform release. However, for the last five years, the foundation has been doing these release trains, starting with Callisto in 2006 - which consisted of only 10 projects.

In an interview with eWEEK, Milinkovich noted several projects in the Helios release that stand out among others. One is the new support for Git, a popular distributed version control (DVCS). Eclipse has launched the new Eclipse EGit and JGit projects. EGit is an Eclipse Team provider for the Git version control system. Git is a distributed SCM, which means every developer has a full copy of all history of every revision of the code, making queries against the history very fast and versatile. The EGit project is implementing Eclipse tooling on top of the JGit Java implementation of Git.

Another important new capability is the Eclipse Marketplace, which offers the Eclipse community a convenient portal to help users find open source and commercial Eclipse-related offerings. The new Marketplace client makes it easier for users to download and install tools from Instantiations and others.

"The Marketplace client is an Eclipse plug-in that will allow you to discover and install plug-ins from the Eclipse ecosystem," Milinkovich said. "We're striving to provide an app store-like experience."

Instantiations, a provider of Eclipse-based commercial software tools and services to improve code quality, security and productivity, announced that its entire Eclipse-based product line has been updated in conjunction with the annual Eclipse release, Helios.

"Instantiations continually strives to meet the needs of our customers by providing them with the latest features of the Eclipse platform," said Mike Taylor, CEO of Instantiations. "In addition to updating our product line to support Eclipse 3.6, we've had regular key updates to each product over the year. I'm proud of our team's commitment to delivering innovative GUI building and testing and code quality tools for enterprises of all sizes."

The Helios release also features new Linux tools and JavaScript tools. A new Linux IDE package makes it easier for Linux developers to use an integrated tool chain for building C/C++ applications for the Linux operating system.

"The Linux tools tightly integrate a number of commonly used performance profiling tools and more," Milinkovich said. "These tools target C and C++ developers building systems and applications that can benefit from a rich IDE [Integrated Development Environment]."

Helios delivers improved support in the JavaScript Development Tools project (JSDT) for JavaScript developers, including a JavaScript debug framework that allows for integration of JavaScript debuggers, such as Rhino and Firebug.

"For JavaScript, the idea is to provide as rich a programming environment as we have in Java and PHP," Milinkovich said.

Meanwhile, the Web Tools Platform project has introduced support for creating, running, and debugging applications written for the latest Java Enterprise Edition (EE) Specifications (Java EE 6) including, Servlet 3.0, JPA 2.0, JSF 2.0, and EJB 3.1.

Other projects of note in include Eclipse Xtext 1.0, a popular framework for creating domain specific languages (DSL), introduces 80 new features, including improved performance and scalability by up to 30 times previous versions. And Eclipse Acceleo 3.0 implements the Object Management Group's (OMG) Model-to-text specification and provides tooling for example-based design of code generators.

The Helios release train is available for download here. The 2011 release train has been codenamed Indigo.