Eclipse tools due for Friday overhaul

Programming project's annual release grows larger, now encompassing the core software and 20 extensions.

The core framework of the Eclipse programming tools project and 20 of its packages will be overhauled Friday in a massive synchronized release called Europa.

Europa, with 17 million lines of code, is significantly larger than last year's Callisto release, which had 10 projects and 7 million lines of code, said Mike Milinkovich, the Eclipse Foundation's executive director.

Milinkovich is happy that the project still met its end-of-June deadline, the fourth time it's done so. "One of the key values of the Eclipse development community is predictability," he said, because many commercial and noncommercial projects rely on the tools. Next year's project is likely to be called Ganymede, following the Jupiter-moon naming pattern.

Eclipse includes not just programming tools and "runtime" software libraries that accompany running software produced with Eclipse, but also modules for producing software that runs on everything from PCs and servers to embedded computing devices and Web browsers.

Among the changes in Europa:

• A new version of Equinox, the core Eclipse runtime, which now can support many server software tasks such as servicing HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests to deliver Web pages to browsers.

• Updates to the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tool (BIRT), which now can draw data from Web services and produce output in Microsoft Word and Excel file formats.

• A new what-you-see-is-what-you-get tool for laying out Web site interfaces written using Java.

• An integrated development environment (IDE) for the Ruby programming language, part of the dynamic language toolkit. That toolkit supports Ruby and TCL now and in the future will support Python and Perl, Milinkovich said.

• Packaging work to make it easier for people to download prebuilt versions of Eclipse.

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