Project Plan For e4 Project, version July 2010

Introduction

Last revised 15:00 ET July 28, 2010.

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

This draft document lays out the feature and API set for the next feature release of the Eclipse e4 project, designated the July 2010 release.

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 will include:

  • Source code release for all e4 Project deliverables, available as versions tagged "R1_0" 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.
  • A p2 repository of binary release deliverables, maintained in a public, stable location on the http://eclipse.org Web site.

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Release Milestones

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

M110/09/2009
M1
M211/20/2009
M2
M301/15/2010
M3
M402/26/2010
M4
M504/09/2010
M5
M605/21/2010
M6 (Feature and API Freeze)

Our target is to complete the release in late July 2010, one month after the Helios 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 July 2010 release of the e4 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 Helios 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. The reference platforms listed below show the versions of these technologies that we are developing and testing against.

e4 July 2010 is tested and validated on the following reference platforms (this list is updated over the course of the release cycle):

Operating System Version Hardware JRE Windowing System
Windows 7 x86 32-bit Sun Java 5 Update 22
IBM Java 5 SR11
Win32
XP
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0 x86 32-bit Sun Java 5 Update 22
IBM Java 5 SR11
GTK
Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Universal Apple Java 10.5 Update 2 Cocoa

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.

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Compatibility with Previous Releases

Compatibility of e4 July 2010 with previous Eclipse project releases

e4 July 2010 will not be compatible with previous releases of e4, such as the e4 0.9 release. This includes binary compatibility, contract compatibility, workbench model compatibility, and workspace compatibility.

e4 July 2010 includes a set of bundles that are binary and API contract compatible with Eclipse Platform UI API from the Eclipse Helios (3.6) release. This set of bundles is known as the compatibility layer, and is intended to be used to create a full Eclipse SDK release on e4 that is fully compatible with previous Eclipse project releases. Thus while e4 July 2010 itself is not compatible with previous Eclipse project releases, it provides the necessary infrastructure to allow a fully compatible e4-based release of the Eclipse SDK to be created.

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 e4 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 themes and priorities established by 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 entails.

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 "1.0" 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 no target milestone assigned.

Easier to Develop

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 use and extend. This theme encompasses work to make it easier to develop software components for the Eclipse platform.

  • Committed
    • Support declarative and visual 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. We will provide visual design tools to allow such user-interfaces to be crafted without requiring extensive programming knowledge. (302750)
    • Compatibility layer. Although the July 2010 release itself will not be backward compatible with earlier versions of the Eclipse platform, we will develop a compatibility layer that will allow the full Eclipse platform and all API-clean platform plug-ins to run without modification on e4. (302752)
  • Proposed

    None at this time.

  • Deferred
    • Support for web UI components in the Eclipse platform There is growing demand for software components that can run both in traditional desktop environments, and Web browser environments. We will support this demand by providing first-class integration of web-based components in the Eclipse platform. In particular, we will support embedding of user interface components written in JavaScript into the e4 UI, and provide access to e4 API for JavaScript components. (302749)
    • Eclipse application services. We will provide a new, simplified API for accessing basic Eclipse platform services. This will allow developers to create components for Eclipse by learning and using a much smaller set of API. (302751)

Easier to Assemble

The Eclipse platform provides an excellent basis for producing extensible integrated development environments (IDEs). However, it can be difficult to assemble and customize Eclipse components into different kinds of applications or for different runtime environments. This theme encompasses work to make it easier to rearrange, customize, and otherwise mash up Eclipse components into very different kinds of applications.

  • 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. (302753)
    • Tools for application assembly. We will provide design tools to support assembling and laying out e4 applications. This will allow authoring and customization of the application's model without requiring knowledge of the underlying programming and modelling technologies. (302754)
    • 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. (302755)
    • Service-oriented programming model. We will define and use a more service-oriented programming model for the e4 API. This will avoid use of singleton APIs and allow a greater variety of Eclipse platform capabilities to be interchanged, customized, reimplemented, or reused in other environments. (302757)
  • Proposed

    None at this time.

  • Deferred
    • OpenSocial Gadget container for Eclipse. We will provide a container for integrating OpenSocial gadgets into the Eclipse platform. This will allow rapid assembly and customization of applications by drawing from the large library of available OpenSocial gadgets. (302756)

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