Eclipse Europa aftermath draws plaudits, complaints

Eclipse Europa aftermath draws plaudits, complaints

The Europa release train is a success, but Eclipse may need to do a better job setting user expectations, director says

Despite isolated complaints about stability, the Eclipse Foundation has deemed its recent Europa technology release a success with more than 2 million downloads since the software became available on June 29.

Europa featured the simultaneous release of the latest software from 21 Eclipse open-source software projects, ranging from AspectJ Development Tools to Eclipse Communication Framework to Web Tools Platform. Collectively, there have been 700,000 download requests for the base Eclipse SDK and an additional 1.4 million requests for five different Europa packages tuned to specific needs, such as for Java or C/C++ development.

"My gut feeling is we're ahead of where we were last year," with the predecessor Callisto release train from June 2006, said Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse's executive director.

But Milinkovich acknowledged there have been some gripes, which he attributed to overambitious expectations about the release train.

"Our motivation for putting these release trains together has been primarily to help spur commercial adoption," of Eclipse technologies, Milinkovich said. While users are always free to use the software in its form as released by Eclipse, it is up to vendors to enhance it for use in commercial products, he said.

"There are some people who expect that their release trains should give them basically a completed, polished product as opposed to the simultaneous release of open-source projects," said Milinkovich. He acknowledged Eclipse may have to either improve integration work in next year's release train, called Ganymede, or do a better job of setting user expectations.

The chief objections have been from Eclipse user Benson Margulies, CTO at Basis Technology, which makes software for non-English-based information retrieval and data processing. Margulies dismissed Milinkovich's comment that Eclipse software is released with the intention that commercial vendors tack on value-added improvements afterward.

"Either the Eclipse platform is an open-source platform or it's not," said Margulies.

"Eclipse is propagandized as if it were an Apache thing," in that the software is supposed to be useful as it already is, he said.

In Margulies's case, he said he had a problem using Web Tools Platform software. "It crashed in a particularly unacceptable way," said Margulies. He said his Eclipse workspace broke as a result of the crash and he had to start it all over again.

Still, Margulies is an Eclipse advocate. "It's the best thing I know for getting Java code written," said Margulies. His original complaints were posted on a members-only Eclipse news portal.

Products based on Europa are anticipated from such companies as Adobe, BEA Systems, IBM Rational, and CodeGear, Milinkovich said. Genuitec already has Europa capabilities in its MyEclipse IDE, he said.

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