Project Plan For e4 Project, version 0.9

Introduction

Last revised 16:00 ET July 13, 2009 ((new) marks interesting changes since the previous draft of Feb 2, 2009)

Please send comments about this plan to the e4-dev@eclipse.org developer mailing list.

This document lays out the feature and API set for the first feature release of the Eclipse e4 project, designated release 0.9.

Plans do not materialize out of nowhere, nor are they entirely static. To ensure the planning process is transparent and open to the entire Eclipse community, we (the e4 team) post plans in an embryonic form and revise them throughout the release cycle.

The first part of the plan deals with the important matters of release deliverables, release milestones, target operating environments, and release-to-release compatibility. These are all things that need to be clear for any release, even if no features were to change.

The remainder of the plan consists of plan items for all of the component areas under the e4 Project. Each plan item covers a feature or API that is to be added to the e4 Project deliverables, or some aspect of the e4 Project that is to be improved. Each plan item has its own entry in the Eclipse bugzilla database, with a title and a concise summary (usually a single paragraph) that explains the work item at a suitably high enough level so that everyone can readily understand what the work item is without having to understand the nitty-gritty detail.

Not all plan items represent the same amount of work; some may be quite large, others, quite small. Some plan items may involve work that is localized to a single component; others may involve coordinated changes to several components; other may pervade the entire project. Although some plan items are for work that is more pressing than others, the plan items appear in no particular order.

Fixing bugs, improving test coverage, documentation, examples, performance tuning, usability, etc. are considered routine ongoing maintenance activities and are not included in this plan unless they would also involve a significant change to the API or feature set, or involve a significant amount of work. The intent of the plan is to account for all interesting feature work.

The current status of each plan item is noted:

  • Committed plan item - A committed plan item is one that we have decided to address for the release.
  • Proposed plan item - A proposed plan item is one that we are considering addressing for the release. Although we are actively investigating it, we are not yet in a position to commit to it, or to say that we won't be able to address it. After due consideration, a proposal will either be committed or deferred.
  • Deferred plan item - A reasonable proposal that will not make it in to this release for some reason is marked as deferred with a brief note as to why it was deferred. Deferred plan items may resurface as committed plan items at a later point.

Release Deliverables

The complete set of release deliverables for the e4 project have not yet been determined. However, deliverables will include:

  • Source code release for all e4 Project deliverables, available as versions tagged "R0_9" in the e4 Project CVS repository.
  • e4 master zip (downloadable). Contains all source code, e4 bundles in binary form, and patches for applying portions of e4 onto an existing instance of the Eclipse Platform.

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Release Milestones

Release milestones will be occurring at roughly 6 week intervals, and will generally occur one week after an Eclipse project milestone.

M102/06/2009
0.9M1
M203/20/2009
0.9M2
M305/08/2009
0.9M3
M406/26/2009
0.9M4
M507/10/2009
0.9M5 (Feature Freeze)
RC107/17/2009
0.9RC1
RC207/24/2009
0.9RC2

Our target is to complete 0.9 in late July 2009, one month after the Galileo release. All release deliverables will be available for download as soon as the release has been tested and validated in the target operating configurations listed below.

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Target Environments

In order to remain current, each e4 Project release targets reasonably current operating environments.

Most of the e4 Project is "pure" Java code and has no direct dependence on the underlying operating system. The chief dependence is therefore on the Java Platform itself. Portions are targeted to specific classes of operating environments, requiring their source code to only reference facilities available in particular class libraries (e.g. J2ME Foundation 1.0, J2SE 1.3 and 1.4, etc.). In general, the 0.9 release of the Eclipse Project is developed on Java SE 5.

e4 has dependencies on components from other Eclipse projects, notably the Platform project, and the EMF project. While specific version dependencies may specify a wider range, e4 is generally built and tested against the versions contained in the Galileo release train.

There are many different implementations of the Java Platform running atop a variety of operating systems. We focus our testing on a handful of popular combinations of operating system and Java Platform; these are our reference platforms. Eclipse undoubtedly runs fine in many operating environments beyond the reference platforms we test. However, since we do not systematically test them we cannot vouch for them. Problems encountered when running Eclipse on a non-reference platform that cannot be recreated on any reference platform will be given lower priority than problems with running Eclipse on a reference platform.

e4 also has dependencies on browser technologies such as Javascript and Flash. The reference platforms listed below show the versions of these technologies that we are developing and testing against.

e4 0.9 is tested and validated on the following reference platforms (this list is updated over the course of the release cycle):

Reference Platforms
Microsoft Windows Vista, x86-32, Win32 running (any of):
  • Sun Java Standard Edition 5 Update 14 for Microsoft Windows
  • IBM 32-bit SDK for Windows, Java 2 Technology Edition 5.0, SR6b
Microsoft Windows XP, x86-32, Win32 running (any of):
  • Sun Java Standard Edition 5 Update 14 for Microsoft Windows
  • IBM 32-bit SDK for Windows, Java 2 Technology Edition 5.0, SR6b
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0, x86-32, GTK running (any of):
  • Sun Java Standard Edition 5 Update 14 for Linux x86
  • IBM 32-bit SDK for Linux on Intel architecture, Java 2 Technology Edition 5.0, SR6b
Apple Mac OS X 10.5, Universal, Cocoa running:
  • Apple Java for Mac OS X 10.5, Update 1

As stated above, we expect that e4 works fine on other current Java VM and OS versions but we cannot flag these as reference platforms without significant community support for testing them.

Internationalization

The e4 platform is designed as the basis for internationalized products. The user interface elements provided by the e4 components, including dialogs and error messages, are externalized. The English strings are provided as the default resource bundles.

Latin-1 and DBCS locales are supported by e4 on all reference platforms; BIDI locales are supported by e4 everywhere but on Motif.

e4 supports GB 18030 (level 1), the Chinese code page standard, on Windows XP and 2000, Linux/GTK and the Macintosh.

German and Japanese locales are tested.

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Compatibility with Previous Releases

Compatibility of e4 0.9 with previous Eclipse project releases

Portions of e4 will be compatible with Eclipse 3.5 (and all earlier 3.x versions). However, compatibility is not a primary focus for this initial release of e4, and there is no firm promise of compatibility between e4 and earlier Eclipse releases of any kind. Compatibility with Eclipse 3.x is anticipated to be a major focus of the subsequent e4 release.

Workspace Compatibility: e4 0.9 will be upwards workspace-compatible with ealier 3.x versions of the Eclipse SDK unless noted. This means that workspaces and projects created with Eclipse SDK 3.4 .. 3.0 can be successfully opened by e4 0.9 and upgraded to an e4 workspace. This includes both hidden metadata, which is localized to a particular workspace, as well as metadata files found within a workspace project (e.g., the .project file), which may propagate between workspaces via file copying or team repositories. Individual plug-ins developed for e4 0.9 should provide similar upwards compatibility for their hidden and visible workspace metadata created by earlier versions; 0.9 plug-in developers are responsible for ensuring that their plug-ins recognize metadata from earlier versions and process it appropriately. User interface session state may be discarded when a workspace is upgraded. Downward workspace compatibility is not supported. A workspace created (or opened) by a product based on e4 0.9 will be unusable with a product based an earlier version of Eclipse. Visible metadata files created (or overwritten) by e4 0.9 will generally be unusable with earlier versions of Eclipse.

Non-compliant usage of API's: All non-API methods and classes, and certainly everything in a package with "internal" in its name, are considered implementation details which may vary between operating environment and are subject to change without notice. Client plug-ins that directly depend on anything other than what is specified in the Eclipse SDK API are inherently unsupportable and receive no guarantees about compatibility within a single release much less with earlier releases. Refer to How to Use the Eclipse API for information about how to write compliant plug-ins.

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Themes and Priorities

The plan items listed below were defined according to contributor requirements and the Eclipse Themes and Priorities set forth by the Eclipse Requirements Council. Each plan item covers a feature or API that is to be added to the e4 Project deliverables, or some aspect of the e4 Project that is to be improved. Each plan item has its own entry in the Eclipse bugzilla database, with a title and a concise summary (usually a single paragraph) that explains the work item at a suitably high enough level so that everyone can readily understand what the work item.

Although there are several components under the e4 project, there is a significant amount of commonality and shared effort between them. In general, many plan items involve coordinated changes to multiple components, and thus attempting to separate the items into sections based on sub-project leads to artificial distinctions between them. As such, this plan covers the work of all components under the e4 Project.

Not all plan items represent the same amount of work; some may be quite large, others, quite small. Although some plan items are for work that is more pressing than others, the plan items appear in no particular order. See the corresponding bugzilla items for up-to-date status information on ongoing work and planned delivery milestones.

The current status of each plan item is noted:

  • Committed plan item - A committed plan item is one that we have decided to address for the release. In bugzilla, this is reflected by having a concrete target milestone assigned.
  • Proposed plan item - A proposed plan item is one that we are considering addressing for the release. Although we are actively investigating it, we are not yet in a position to commit to it, or to say that we won't be able to address it. After due consideration, a proposal will either be committed or deferred. In bugzilla, such items are reflected by having a target milestone "0.9" or "---" assigned.
  • Deferred plan item - A reasonable proposal that will not make it in to this release for some reason is marked as deferred with a brief note as to why it was deferred. Deferred plan items may resurface as committed plan items at a later point. In bugzilla, such items are reflected by having a target milestone "Future" assigned.

Design for Extensibility

Over the years the Eclipse platform has accumulated a large body of API, resulting in a platform that is very powerful, but also very difficult for non-experts to extend. This theme encompasses work to make the Eclipse platform much easier to build applications and extensions upon.

  • Committed
    • ((new) committed) Support declarative definition of user-interfaces. We will work with the community to identify and provide access to a best-of-breed declarative mechanism for defining widget-based user-interfaces in Eclipse. [Platform UI, SWT] (252648)
    • ((new) committed) Model-based workbench. The functionality of the Eclipse Workbench and IDE have grown significantly since they were created. In some cases, older capabilities have been superceded by newer ones or have been proven to be unwieldy or otherwise unsatisfying. We will create a new model of the underlying structure of the Eclipse UI, which will make development simpler, but more flexible and dynamic. [Platform UI] ( 252650)
    • ((new) committed) Skinnable UI. We will enable developers to have greater control over the Eclipse UI, making it simple to customize the appearance of Eclipse-based applications using industry standard mechanisms such as CSS. [Platform UI, SWT] ( 252653)
    • ((new) committed) Investigate scripting languages for Eclipse programmability. We will investigate the use of scripting languages such as JavaScript, Ruby, etc., in Eclipse development. Since this capability will require function from the model-based workbench, as well as support from the Equinox project, and will potentially impact many other areas, only the initial investigation is planned during the R3.5 cycle. [All] (252654)
    • ((new) committed) Compatibility layer. Although the 0.9 release will not itself be backward compatible with earlier versions of the Eclipse platform, we will develop a compatibility layer that will allow plug-ins built against earlier versions of the platform to run without modification in e4. [All] (XXXXXX)
  • Proposed

    None at this time.

  • Deferred

    None at this time.

Rich Internet Applications

Eclipse is well-established as the cross-platform IDE of choice, but it has become much more than that. The extensive and diverse range of applications that are being built on the Eclipse code base, and the constantly changing capabilities of the underlying systems on which it runs, are driving us to push the limits of our technology in almost every dimension. In particular, there is increasing demand for an equivalent of the Eclipse platform in the Rich Internet Application (RIA) space. Having a single platform that can be used to build and run applications on a wide variety of web and desktop technologies, would enable application writers to exploit a wide range of deployment options from a common code base.

  • Committed
    • ((new) committed) Support running SWT in a browser. The RAP project has shown that it is possible to achieve good performance and function for server-side, widget-based web applications. Investigations have also been made into client-side technologies. Based on these efforts, we will provide first-class support for the ability to run SWT applications in web browsers. [SWT] (252659)
  • Proposed

    None at this time.

  • Deferred
    • ((new) deferred) Support advanced animation API in SWT. A prototype API was developed during the R3.3 cycle that was implemented on top of several desktop and web UI technologies. This work needs to be completed. [SWT] (252656)

Ease of Use

The Eclipse IDE platform provides sufficient capabilities for a wide range of developers, but has limitations that make it difficult to use as an IDE for certain kinds of development. This theme encompasses work to make the Eclipse IDE easier to use for embedded, C/C++, parallel, and server-side developer environments.

  • Committed
    • ((new) committed) Flexible resources The Resource architecture that Eclipse uses has been criticized for being overly Java-centric and constraining for some use cases. We will generalize the Resource layer (and related areas, such as EFS) to better address these uses. [Workspace, Platform UI] (252647)
  • Proposed

    None at this time.

  • Deferred

    None at this time.

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