Whenever I upgrade Eclipse, I’m tempted to download the latest development release. Instead of clicking on the production release, I tend to look for other versions and download the latest release candidate or integration build. I’ve been running a Eclipse 3.2 integration build since last November, and it worked so well I forgot that I was using an early integration build. I finally upgraded this week, and in doing so I decided to try the latest release candidate of the Callisto Simultaneous Release. Verdict? It’s official, Eclipse is no longer just an IDE, it is a powerful platform, and I was surprised at the breadth and quality of this release. Read on for an account of my own experience.
What is Callisto?
Callisto is a simultaneous release of 10 projects. Instead of releasing related components piecemeal over the course of years or months. The Eclipse group has decided to unify the release schedules of a number of tools and products based on the Eclipse platform. Similar to a release of a new version of Windows or OS X, this isn’t just a product release, Callisto is a milestone for people who depend upon the platform for development. Included in the Callisto release:
- BIRT - Business Intelligence and Reporting
- C/C++ IDE
- Data Tool Platform
- GEF - Graphical Editor Framework
- Graphical Modeling Framework
- Eclipse Project
- Eclipse Tests and Performance Tools Platform
- Eclipse Web Tools Platform
- Visual Editor
In my own day to day development, I really only touch upon the surface of Eclipse, code, compile, use some of the refactoring capabilities. I haven’t really dug into the profiling and performance monitoring tools. I’ve always been aware that Eclipse has some solid modeling tools and I’ve dabbled with the reporting stuff in the past, but I always had a terrible time either downloading or installing these components. With Callisto, I can report that everything I tried worked without a flaw - I was able to download and continue my development as I had before with minimal interruption. It took about 40 minutes to download all 10 components, and I didn’t see a error dialog or have to perform some work around throughout the entire process.
As far as open source efforts go, the Eclipse Foundation seems to have found the right mix of openness and membership. The Foundation welcomes the contributions of individual committers, but it has also instituted a series of partnership levels with organizations that participate in the development of the product. From strategic members that pay a significant portion of the Eclipse Foundation’s operating costs to add-on providers, the Eclipse Foundation has found a productive place in the open source/corporate community model. It differs from other “open-source” communities in that it feels both more open and more focused on software development. While some might disparage the approach as a corporate driven approach to open source and community, Eclipse feels less like a faceless corporation and more like a consortium of interested parties, and the quality of the releases is proof enough that this model is working.