Eclipse Summit Europe: My Observations

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Eclipse Summit Europe: My Observations

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Last week I attended Eclipse Summit Europe, giving me the chance to catch up on the latest technologies and meet the people behind the community. It was the best conference that I've been to so far.  You'd imagine that an event that specialised on one ecosystem wouldn't sell out, but it did, with 467 people attending. The keynotes were fantastic, and Jeff Norris' talk about Mission Critical Agility was certainly my highlight. Inspirational presentations are infrequent at best, but Jeff's talk about what the core components of agility are really got me thinking. I'll write more about that particular keynote another time. What'd I'd like to cover in this post is what I've seen to be the core trends in the Eclipse community, based on the conference.

Modeling Is Still King 

There's no doubt that in Europe, modeling is extremely popular. It's been that was at ESE for years, with EMF always getting a lot of attention. At the conference, it seemed to me that Itemis are the new leaders in the modeling space. Their Xtext framework was at the center of many of the talks that I attended. And things are just set to get even bigger for them with the upcoming release of Xtext 2.0. 

As I mentioned before, the official ESE mobile app was written by the mobile developers at Xtext, and they showed how they built a DSL for mobile applications using Xtext.  I've had a passing interest in Xtext for quite some time, but now is the time to look closer. 

Diversity: There's Always More Than One Way

I attended a few of the sessions about building as I felt the way that we build in my current project isn't quite right. While I expected to get a simple "use this" answer, what I actually found was that there is good reason for the variety of build projects at Eclipse, each focussed on particular use cases. For those who might not know, the current choices include Buckminster, Athena, PDE build and Tycho. It seems that the most popular choice is Tycho, as it uses Maven. A comparison of all the build technologies is provided here.

But the main point to take here is that it doesn't matter that there's more than one way to do something. Diversity is required to ensure everyone in a community can get what they want. 

Simplicity Is Key

Finally, it comes as no surprise that everyone likes simplicity. Graphiti is the project that illustrates this best to me. Rather than using the generative approach that GMF provides, Graphiti allows you to write simple graphical editors based on any model (EMF or otherwise). The first commit of this project to Eclipse was back in October, but I really think it will make a big splash. All developers need to know is Java and Draw2D, and they too can create rich graphical editors. 

Thanks to all who organised Eclipse Summit this year. Looking forward to next year already! 


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