Eclipse Updates 10 Open-Source Projects in Callisto

Project leaders say the platform's modular architecture made it relatively simple to coordinate the release.

Although the Eclipse Foundations move to release code from 10 of its top-level open-source projects simultaneously is no small feat, the process itself was rather smooth, said project leaders on many of the efforts.

On June 30 the Eclipse Foundation will ship 10 new or upgraded releases of key projects in a simultaneous release known as "Callisto." The projects include the release of version 3.2 of the Eclipse Platform as well as new releases of the Eclipse BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) project, the Data Tools Platform, the Eclipse TPTP (Test and Performance Tools Platform) and the Eclipse Web Tools Platform project, among others.

Callisto, named for a moon of Jupiter, is the continuation of the model IBM set in motion five years ago when it poured $40 million worth of code into the open-source community to create an open-source development platform to compete with Microsofts development environment.

And although the stage was set for a move like Callisto, making it happen will likely go down as Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovichs legacy.

"The Eclipse community and the original architects got it very right when they went with a modular architecture for Eclipse," Milinkovich said in Ottawa.

Indeed, Milinkovich said the original motivation for Eclipse was to create "a coordinated release train" to make Eclipse a predictable supplier of technology and remove the latency in the delivery of different pieces of the broad Eclipse environment. Companies that rely on Eclipse as the basis for their products will know with certainty when and where to go to get it, he said.

Milinkovich said this marks the third year that the Eclipse project bits were finished by the end of June. So last year this time, the Eclipse planning council decided to shoot for this time to release 10 projects at once, Milinkovich said. Projects were invited to join the release train on a voluntary basis, he said.

Meanwhile, some observers give Eclipse high marks for achieving a coordinated release as an open-source entity, when commercial organizations struggle with getting code out the door.

"Callisto is an interesting effort in that its attempting to achieve what even tightly organized commercial vendors often struggle with: a coordinated, synchronized release," said Stephen OGrady, an analyst with RedMonk, in Denver. "What Callisto will signify probably more than anything else is a level of project maturity. Rather than treating its various projects as unrelated entities, theyre looking to establish ties in release cycle."

Kevin Haaland, project lead of the Eclipse Platform project and an engineer at IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., said "By having a coordinated release of multiple projects this will encourage the continued growth of the community and will enable people to continue to build on Eclipse."

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The community was key to the Callisto effort. That is part of the reason Eclipse welcomed Ward Cunningham to its ranks last year. Cunningham, known as father of the wiki, came to Eclipse from Microsoft and holds the title of director of committer community development at Eclipse. Cunningham works closely with Bjorn Freeman-Benson, technical director of open-source process and infrastructure at the Eclipse Foundation.

Freeman-Benson ran the process of coordinating all the Callisto projects to bring them in lock step toward a final release this week via weekly conference calls, mailing lists and chats. Project leads said the process was basically nonintrusive, with early calls being rather involved as the projects came to know one another better and later calls being brief—serving as status updates and bug reports.

"We lived on Bugzilla," said John Graham, project lead of the Eclipse Data Tools Project platform and a software engineer at Sybase, in Dublin, Calif.

Moreover, "the process has been remarkably lightweight," Haaland said.

Next Page: Eclipse plans annual simultaneous releases.