Proposal for Tools Services Framework (Corona)

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This document declares the intent and scope of a proposed project called the Tools Services Framework project, or Corona. The Corona project is in the Project Proposal Phase as defined in the Eclipse Development Process document. We propose that this project be established within the Technology Project PMC. In addition, we are soliciting additional participation and input from the Eclipse community. You are invited to comment on the project and encouraged to join. Please send all feedback to the http://www.eclipse.org/newsportal/thread.php?group=eclipse.technology.corona newsgroup.

Background

The success of Eclipse has led to a number of requirements for functionality that enables integrations across multiple clients. Eclipse plug-in tools and applications are frequently used by development teams and other organizational units who could benefit from additional collaboration capabilities among Eclipse client environments enabled by a central shared context. As the Eclipse ecosystem grows to support a broader set of tools, it would be advantageous to have a framework for hosting plug-ins that supports tool integrations in a shared context.

A number of existing and proposed Eclipse projects are already demonstrating a need for a shared framework:

  • The Application Lifecycle Framework (ALF) project specifies a hosted BPEL environment, along with a set of services to support event routing and additional utility functions such as single sign-on. Hosting these services in an extensible Eclipse framework would enhance their scope and flexibility.

  • The Eclipse Communications Framework (ECF) already contains an exemplary collaboration server, based on the Resource layer of Eclipse. The ability to access the ECF's collaboration abilities, within a shared environment populated by additional life cycle tools, would allow vendors to implement dynamic distributed troubleshooting scenarios.

  • Higgins, the Trust Framework could be deployed within this framework to provide both the social contexts required for collaboration and the needed security framework.

  • The Eclipse Test and Performance Tools Platform (TPTP) could simplify its agent control infrastructure by building a unified Agent Controller that can operate on the developer's system or remote machines.

  • The Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project could enhance the capabilities of their report server using this plug-in framework.

Thus far, no Eclipse framework has been defined to create and manage the plug-ins that would support these collaborative cases.

The SOA Tools Project (STP) has identified a set of Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) implementations as its deployment targets. The emerging popularity of an ESB as an environment for hosting services suggests that using an ESB environment to host a shared Eclipse framework would provide a number of benefits. A few of these benefits would be a SOA front end for Eclipse tools, synergies with the SOA Tools Project, and deployment flexibility with multiple protocol bindings.

Description

Corona will provide the frameworks required for collaboration among instances of Eclipse based clients as well as clients that exist outside the Workbench environment. The Corona project will include:

  • A service plug-in model based on OSGi and hosted within a generic ESB container. The initial deployment targets are the ones supported by the SOA Tools Project.

  • Extension points that facilitate the creation a wide variety of plug-ins.

  • An implementation of extensions for collaboration concepts that are analogous to applicable Workbench concepts such as Projects and Natures. For example, a shared Project would implement a container for associated Project repositories and would host ad hoc collaboration via ECF between project members as defined by Higgins.

Goals

The goals of the project are:

An Eclipse OSGi loader that is deployable within an ESB container - We will provide an Eclipse environment, complete with plug-in support and extension points, running within the ESB containers supported by the Eclipse SOA Tools Project.

Collaboration-oriented analogues to existing Workbench constructs such as Projects and Natures - In addition to the vertical extensibility provided by the plug-in and extension point mechanisms, we will provide a set of horizontal integration constructs that are analogous to the Project and Nature concepts within the Workbench. This will include a shared version of Workbench Projects, support for transient activities analogous to Builders within the Workbench, and support for ad-hoc collaboration spaces.

Web Service Endpoint accessibility to Eclipse-hosted services - We will provide a closed access loop between our OSGi-hosted plug-ins and services that are hosted by the ESB container. We will do this by supporting the ability to access plug-in functionality through Web Services endpoints and allowing plug-ins to participate in ESB-hosted BPEL activities.

Provision for shared classes between ESB tooling and Eclipse plug-ins - We will integrate the OSGi container with the ESB host in such a way that users of the platform may designate portions of their plug-in implementation to be accessible from outside the plug-in framework by implementing an option for deployment of plug-in classes to a class path whose scope extends beyond the OSGi plug-in layer.

PDE and STP extensions for the development and deployment of components hosted in Corona - We will work with the Plug-in Development Environment (PDE) project and the SOA Tools Project (STP) to support the creation and deployment of plug-in services.

Deliverables

We will deliver:

Corona Core - A set of OSGi-based plug-ins that implement the framework. These plug-ins define the extension points for shared Repositories, Projects, Tasks and Collaboration spaces. Additionally, we will deliver an implementation of a Link concept and the existing Marker concept. Finally, we will provide a Manageability abstraction within the Core that can be mapped onto a Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) interface.

Exemplary deployments - The base framework will be deployable within the ESB implementations provided by the SOA Tools Project. We will implement the interface between the ESB container and this framework in a pluggable fashion using the existing Eclipse extension point mechanism. In addition to an ESB deployment, we will also provide a stand-alone deployment, leveraging the OSGi HTTP Service and the Apache Muse Project.

Exemplary plug-ins - We will provide a set of OSGi-based plug-ins for the framework, to demonstrate some possible usage patterns. The initial exemplary plug-ins will provide support for an instantiation of some of the collaborations delineated in the Background section, using existing Eclipse and popular Open Source functionality. We will deliver the following:

  • A Higgins plug-in for Corona that is accessible by other Corona hosted plug-ins and that mediates access to both data and services.

  • An ECF plug-in that will duplicate the functionality of the existing ECF server component and extend it to be 'socially aware' with respect to Higgins, and context aware with respect to Projects, etc. The ECF plug-in will demonstrate the Corona Collaboration Space extension points.

  • An implementation of the WSDM MUWS specification for managing the Corona plug-ins and artifacts. This implementation will externalize the Corona Container concepts (Projects, etc.) as Manageable Resources, and externalize the Corona Link concept as Relationships.

  • An Eclipse Plug-in for browsing and modifying Corona instances using the WSDM interface.

  • A deployment framework for the ALF event manager and BPEL engine.

Organization

We propose that this project be undertaken as a Technology project. Once this work matures, the project could move from the Technology Project PMC to the Eclipse Platform PMC to provide a common open source framework for building plug-ins for either RCP or ESB applications. Alternatively, it could continue as a sub-project of the Technology Project or be incorporated into a future top-level project such as the SOA Tools Project.

Suggested Project Lead and Committers

This section lists organizations that have expressed interest in the project or its components, and will be updated periodically to reflect the growing interest in this project.

Initial Set of Committers

Dennis O’Flynn, (Project Lead) Compuware Corp.
Glenn Everitt, Compuware Corp.
Joel Hawkins, Compuware Corp.
Jim Wright, Compuware Corp.
Neil Faigenbaum, Compuware Corp.

Interested Parties

Compuware Corp. - www.compuware.com
Serena Software, Inc. - www.serena.com
IONA Technologies - www.iona.com