Proposal for Maya: An incubator project

The project has been created. Please visit the project page.

Introduction

The goal of the Maya incubator project is to provide an exemplary application to enable automated deployment of Eclipse installations by building on services within Equinox and content exposed via update sites. The Maya project will take a first step in providing the provisioning services required to enable organizations to leverage the Eclipse platform for both internal and external tooling built on top of Eclipse. Many users within an organization are unfamiliar with Eclipse; those users leveraging Eclipse software should not be required to learn the update manager or associated technology. Maya will promote a centralized deployment model for Eclipse in contrast to the standard Eclipse update mechanism which is designed to empower each individual client and by association user. The platform will be extensible allowing it to be leveraged in multiple deployment modes beyond those directly supplied by the project.

Please post comments on the Maya project proposal to http://www.eclipse.org/newsportal/thread.php?group=eclipse.technology.maya.

Scope

The following are the target features for the Maya project.

  • Lightweight Installation and Deployment
    Instead of deploying the full Eclipse application or just the RCP, a small native client will be installed on user systems. This client will connect to back-end servers hosting Meta information on Eclipse-based software enabled for use in the organization. Maya will automatically setup an Eclipse instance with the correct set of tooling for their profile. The client also allows any Eclipse component to be upgraded as needed including the base Eclipse and JRE versions.

  • Profile-Based Software Sets
    Within organizations, sets of software need to be configured at a profile-level instead of relying on each user to perform maintenance of their own setup. Within Maya, administrators configure the default software associated with each profile and users are empowered to tailor additional software in their own user settings.

  • Software Discovery from Update Sites
    Instead of requiring Maya to have a separate mechanism for registering software to be exposed within a deployment, Maya will allow registration of internal or external update sites that can be scanned for feature information. Maya will then use this information when presenting administrators with options for defining or updating profiles. Extensibility will be provided to allow other mechanisms of supplying installable software to be distributed within Maya.

  • Software Dependency Automation
    Administrators defining profiles will only need to specify the top-level features desired. Maya will handle automated dependency resolution ensuring that all required dependencies are automatically installed along side the explicitly listed dependencies. Since Maya will have a list of update sites registered, the automatic dependency inclusion should work for all software listed within any of the update sites -- avoiding the complexity of the user needing to locate the source for a given feature or missing dependency.

  • User and Profile Selection Extensibility
    Organizations will be able to integrate existing authentication systems to allow users to be automatically associated with available profiles. In addition, the selection of profiles applicable to a user will be extensible allowing deployments to choose what software a given user is delivered. In the case where a user has access to multiple profiles, Maya will allow the user to choose the most applicable profile for their specific needs.

  • Statistics Collection Extensibility
    Within many organizations, statistics need to be collected on the software being used. Maya will be designed to tie in with an organizational statistics monitoring engines allowing numerous statistics from Maya to be collected including the number of uses of different software components, the average profile and team membership, and which profiles are being most heavily used.

  • Deployment Architecture Extensibility
    As Maya will serve as a base for more complex offerings, certain extensibility will need to be built into the platform to allow for alternate deployment architectures. These architectural hooks will include services to enable activities such as filtering of software visible to a user, or being able to hook in client-side to enable additional software to be installed. Hooks may also be added to enable creation of services on top of Maya that are technically out of Maya's own scope.

Proposed Components

It is expected that there will be five deliverables of the Maya project.

  • Bootstrap Client
    The first is the bootstrap client that will connect to the backend services and setup the environment given the user's profile. By downloading OSGi bundles, the client will be extremely lightweight and will actually have very little knowledge of how to process a user's profile until the appropriate bundle is retrieved. As the bootstrap will be written in native code, everything from the JRE to the Equinox runtime will be able to be dynamically setup.

  • Profile Selection Launcher RCP
    The launcher is an RCP-based UI responsible for walking the user through authentication and profile selection. Upon profile selection, the launcher then constructs the Eclipse environment. To optimize client-side performance, the backend service will conduct the dependency validation allowing the user to choose the desired software and if desired defer the selection of dependent software to the service. In certain cases, the launcher stage can be skipped allowing the bootstrap to directly instantiate the full Eclipse environment.

  • Backend Web Service
    The third deliverable is the web service / backend service that will support the Maya deployment. This will include knowledge of profiles, as well as having the dependency graph allowing the service to quickly determine which sets and versions of software should be made available.

  • Limited Administrative User Interface
    The fourth deliverable is a small set of Eclipse perspectives and views to support administrators setting up profiles for users in their organization and allowing users to override and control their own use of selected profiles.

  • Native Installers
    The last component is a base installer which will drop the bootstrap client onto a system. The installer will not be required to install a JRE or other related software as the bootstrap is responsible for provisioning the actual Eclipse environment.

Background

Organizations managing many Eclipse installations can incur a high cost in maintaining and deploying those systems. With the desire to build out organization-specific RCP applications and deliver to end-users, the knowledge of Eclipse becomes significantly less. Metrics within organizations can show that many users are either not aware of RCP tooling applicable to their work or are not running the appropriate version for their needs. In addition, some end-users are not interested in worrying about what software or versions are installed. They desire the right set of tooling to be available on their desktop and expect to have what they need available to them automatically.

A secondary goal of the platform is to enable tooling vendors to more easily deploy their software in an enterprise. Being able to effectively release Eclipse-based software to engineers has been hampered by the proliferation of different techniques for delivering software, whether a vendor requires a custom installer or uses a separate update site. By making Maya part of the standard Eclipse offering, companies will be able to leverage Maya instead of requiring each vendor to deliver a custom provisioning solution. Ultimately, Maya should allow vendors to enable their products to be distributed within the enterprise with the appropriate licensing enablement and necessary configuration.

Out of Scope

The following areas are explicitly out of scope for the Maya project. While these capabilities will not be supported directly by Maya, in certain instances extensibility may be provided to allow these services to be supplied by building on top of Maya.

  • High Availability for Web Service
    Maya will not provide a high availability solution for the web service, nor will it be optimized for server clustering as may be required to meet high scalability requirements. While Maya will not purposefully block the use of publicly available solutions, it will be an exercise for the consumer to deploy Maya in such an environment.

  • Software Licensing and Controls
    Maya will not perform any license enforcement or tracking. The architecture of Maya may be leveraged to help provide these services; however, the complexity of licensing and the various different systems involved add significant challenges beyond the scope of this project.

  • Package Definition and Validation
    Maya will not provide any vetting of packages. Maya will attempt to provide a standard set of profiles that can be consumed. It is hoped that package definitions from the Eclipse Packaging Project (EPP) may be able to be imported as profiles into Maya.

  • Billing and Up-Selling of Software
    While Maya can provide a profile selection service which could be extended to up-sell software offerings, any such extensions of Maya will be explicitly out of scope. Maya is targeted for provisioning software readily available from update sites.

  • Generic Artifact Distribution and Installation
    Maya will only provide distribution of Eclipse software and the JRE. Maya will explicitly not provide generic software artifact installation though the architecture may be extended to allow other components to be installed.

  • Workspace Settings and Configuration
    Maya will not profile workspace configuration and setting synchronization. Maya is positioned for provisioning Eclipse software. Enterprise management of Eclipse development environments is explicitly out of scope for Maya.

Complimentary Works

Due to the intrinsic nature of provisioning to Eclipse, Maya will have touch points with multiple projects. The following two have high likelihood requiring collaboration for joint success in large managed deployments for Eclipse.

  • Equinox Provisioning Project
    http://www.eclipse.org/equinox/incubator/provisioning/proposal.php
    The Equinox provisioning project hosted in the Equinox incubator area is starting in parallel and is planned to provide client-side support to enable richer / more complete provisioning at a base layer. As the two projects evolve, it is highly expected that Maya will be able to leverage the richer services exposed by the Equinox project. In addition, certain components of Maya especially those related to the client-side may end up migrating or being rewritten as part of the Equinox project to better align the two projects as both mature.

  • Eclipse Packaging Project
    http://www.eclipse.org/epp/
    The Eclipse Packaging Project (EPP) will have at least one interesting touch point with Maya in that the packages being defined in EPP will be perfect sources for installing a base set of profiles within a Maya installation. In addition, since the EPP will be providing a client-side installer, it may be necessary to ensure consistency between the end-user managed installer of EPP and the Maya managed client installer of Maya.

A potential derivative work of the Maya project could be for an entity such as the Eclipse Foundation to host a publicly available installation of Maya for delivering general Eclipse software. Maya could be used to configure a series of questions such as "Are you a Java Developer?" "Do you work with Web technologies?" "Would you like integrated testing services?" The Maya launcher would provide the responses to the web service -- which could then choose the appropriate pre-configured profile based on the responses. This service would then be able to deliver a full Eclipse installation with the right set of software for the user's needs. Deploying this service is out of scope for the Maya project but is a potential opportunity to help with the first-time user experience dove-tailing with EPP.

Code Contributions

Cisco Systems, Inc. is offering an internally developed Eclipse deployment infrastructure as an initial codebase. The internal infrastructure is being used inside Cisco to deliver Eclipse-based solutions to engineers and contains at least partial functionality for a number of the project objectives. As the Equinox provisioning project moves forward, it may be appropriate to refactor certain components of the contribution into the Equinox client-side provisioning project instead of maintaining them in Maya.

Organization

Proposed Initial Committers

The initial contributors will focus on preparing the code contribution by Cisco for consumption by the Eclipse community. The focus will then shift to building out a complete feature set in the Maya project. Our agile development process will follow eclipse.org's standards for openness and transparency. We will actively encourage contributions to the project and plan on contributing patches to other Eclipse projects if necessary. As the Equinox provisioning project moves forward, Maya committers may also need to become actively involved in Equinox given the multiple touch points regarding provisioning in general. The initial planned committers are:

  • Timothy Webb (Cisco): Project Lead
  • Sharanya Doddapaneni (Cisco)
  • Jennifer Li (Cisco)
  • Dennis Vaughn (Cisco)
  • 2 engineers (Genuitec)
  • 1+ engineers (Innoopract)
  • 1 engineer (CloudSmith)

Interested Parties

The following parties have expressed interest in the project:

  • Xored (Andrey Platov)
  • Equinox Team
  • Genuitec (MyEclipse)
  • Innoopract
  • CloudSmith (Buckminster)
  • Oracle (EclipseLink)

User Community

The Maya project is targeting a disparate group of developers and consumers, as such, supporting and soliciting feedback from a large community of developers is critical to creating the right offering. We plan on doing this by using the standard eclipse.org mechanisms of supporting an open project and a community of early adopters.