While Microsoft was lavishly announcing the release of a preview of the latest version of Visual Studio, its .NET-based integrated development environment (IDE), at its Build 2013 developer conference, true to form the Eclipse Foundation quietly announced the availability of the latest release of its annual release train, this one known as Kepler.
Kepler, also known as Eclipse 4.3, features 71 open-source project teams involving 420 developers from 54 organizations and more than 58 million lines of code. The coordinated release demonstrates that open-source development processes are very effective for large-scale distributed development, Eclipse Foundation officials said. Each year, the Eclipse community of open-source projects coordinates a major release at the end of June.
The coordinated release also allows users and adopters of Eclipse technology to update to new versions of Eclipse projects all at one time. Kepler is the eighth such release since the foundation began naming its annual release trains in 2006 with the Callisto release.
“The Eclipse Kepler release completes the migration of Eclipse to our new 4.x platform,” Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, told eWEEK in an interview. “A lot of work has gone into improving the performance, stability and backward compatibility of the 4.3 release. I expect that developers will be pretty happy with the general ‘snappiness’ of Kepler.”
“Kepler has several new features that Java developers are going to enjoy,” Milinkovich said. “First, there is support for Java EE 7, which is the quickest we’ve ever been able to support a new Java EE platform release. Second, Web Tools now has Maven support for building EAR [Enterprise Archive], EJB [Enterprise JavaBeans], WAR [Web application Archive] files and the like.”
The Eclipse Platform uses plug-ins to provide all functionality within and on top of the runtime system, in contrast to some other applications, in which functionality is hard-coded. The Eclipse Platform’s runtime system is based on Equinox, an implementation of the OSGi core framework specification.
The Eclipse Web Tools Project (WTP) 3.5 release adds support for the recently released Java EE 7, including support for Java Persistence API (JPA) 2.1, JavaServer Faces (JSF) 2.2, JAX-RS 2.0, Servlet 3.1, EJB 3.2, Connector 1.7, App Client 7.0 and EAR 7.0. Also, the Eclipse Web Tools Project (WTP) project and code generation wizards, content assist and validation have been updated, so Java developers can easily create, debug and deploy Java EE 7-compliant applications.
“The Eclipse release trains are very important to the success and growth of the entire Eclipse ecosystem,” Milinkovich said in a statement. “Users and adopters of Eclipse technology know they can rely upon a predictable annual release schedule, so organizations are confident about using Eclipse technology as their software development platform. Eclipse is a great example of how open-source software has changed the software industry for the better.”
Eclipse Launches Kepler Release Train With Big Data, BI, Usability Support
“What is really heartening about Eclipse is the predictability of the release cycle,” Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, told eWEEK. “As large as the ecosystem of committers and companies participating gets, they manage to get their annual release mostly at the same time of year and move the technology forward. To my mind, the most notable things about the Kepler train is support for the just shipped EE 7, the BIRT [Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools] support for new NoSQL data sources and the maturing and stabilization of the Web IDE Orion. Eclipse is one of a handful of global wonders of open-source collaboration in terms of the number of developers and companies involved.”
The new Eclipse Stardust 1.0 release, which Milinkovich calls a significant new project, provides a business process management engine and tools. Eclipse Stardust includes a modeling environment to create and debug workflow models, a process engine to execute BPM applications, a Web portal for browser-based execution and monitoring of business processes, and an Eclipse BIRT-based reporting component for runtime monitoring and reporting BPM applications.
The Orion 3.0 release features improvements to the usability and scalability of the Orion Web-based IDE. Orion can now be easily installed as a Web application Archive (WAR) file to a Java application server, making it easier to deploy to cloud services. Orion usability has also been improved to include direct file navigation in the editor, new key bindings—vi and Emacs, auto-save/auto load, and a new look and feel.
Orion 3.0 provides an open-source browser-based editor and tooling platform, Milinkovich said. “Orion continues to add significant improvements every release, and this one adds a significant number of usability and scalability enhancements. Orion is also the only one of the various browser-based toolsets which meets accessibility and internationalization requirements.”
Also, ever equipped to tackle the key technological issues of the day, Eclipse is prepared for the big data craze. “The Eclipse BIRT project also has some new features for big data,” Milinkovich told eWEEK. “BIRT now supports MongoDB and Cassandra, enabling BIRT’s reporting and analytics capabilities for those databases.”
Indeed, Eclipse BIRT 4.3 introduces support for the popular MongoDB and Cassandra databases, and allows for easy integration of the BIRT visualization capabilities into big data applications. This new support is in addition to the existing Hadoop support provided by BIRT.
For integration aficionados, the new Eclipse Mylyn 3.9 now makes it a lot easier to conduct code review within Eclipse. A new navigator view that is integrated with the Gerrit code review tool shows the structured view of all the files and comments of a review.
Also, for its part, the Kepler release features improved integration with Apache Maven for Java EE developers. New support for Maven integration with the Eclipse Web Tools Project (WTP) provides a set of connectors that add Maven support for Java EE-related Eclipse projects, including WAR, EJB, EAR and Roshal Archive (RAR) projects.
“The yearly Eclipse release train always arrives with the conflicting emotions of excitement for the new coupled with the dread of re-installation,” said Todd Williams, vice president of technology for Genuitec, which builds Eclipse-based developer productivity tools. “However, this year’s Kepler release is pure excitement for our users since we’re introducing a new cloud technology to ensure that the download/configure/share cycle is faster than ever before. Our new SDC Cloud Connect, with Kepler, is a cloud portal to configure the bits of Kepler and the Marketplace that developers need with additional ability to easily share those configurations with team members anywhere on the globe. Of course, our existing SDC customers can already roll out Kepler, no muss, no fuss. Kepler is a huge feat for the Eclipse Foundation and its contributors, and we’re looking forward to the avenues this release opens up for our users.”
All of the projects participating in the Kepler release train are available for download. Twelve packages, based on different developer profiles, make it easy to download the new release.