The Eclipse Spaces Project

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

Introduction

The Eclipse Spaces Project is a proposed open source project under the Eclipse Technology Project. This proposal is in the Project Proposal Phase and is written to declare its intent and scope. This proposal is written to solicit additional participation and input from the Eclipse community. You are invited to comment on and/or join the project. Please send all feedback to the eclipse.technology.spaces newsgroup.

Context

The primary objective of this project would be to help catalyze the growth of a new and vibrant segment within the Eclipse ecosystem by reducing the gap between "developing" with Eclipse and "sharing" with Eclipse.

The Eclipse technology foundation is of nearly universal interest to developers of software products. However, the development process and infrastructure that Eclipse.org provides, although equally successful, is applicable only to a relatively small number of Eclipse-centric projects.

Excluded are projects lacking the scope, ambition or licensing model required of top-level projects (or subprojects). Examples include projects creating applications or run-time-only (as opposed to "tooling"), open source projects involving code licensed under a non-approved license, commercial software products including closed-source code and projects for which Eclipse management overhead is unsupportable.

Infrastructure outside of Eclipse.org supports collaborative development of Eclipse-centric projects. Open source projects, for example, can use SourceForge. Web services providers (such as AOL, a co-submitter of this proposal) provide virtual infrastructure that is available to developers without IP constraints (subject to standard commercial terms, etc.). And projects can always provision and maintain their own infrastructure, where economically feasible.

However, the cost and effort needed for an "excluded" Eclipse project—for example, an individual developer who wants to create a personal open source project—is quite high, while the quality of integration between the Eclipse environment and sharing infrastructure outside of Eclipse.org is unacceptably low. What is missing is the equivalent of "my space" for Eclipse developers.

Project Overview

The Spaces project will provide an extensible framework and exemplary implementation for an Eclipse feature/plug-in set that streamlines the process of publishing, materializing and sharing a code base against a specified set of virtual services for source management, release staging and downloading, bug-tracking and community collaboration. The initial exemplary implementation will include an adapter to connect the framework to an extended version of AOL's virtual storage infrastructure (XDrive). Other exemplary implementations to capable and available virtual infrastructures will be included based on community demand and project resources (the project welcomes additional contributors to help with, e.g., an adapter to SourceForge).

Objectives

The objectives of the project will be to:

  • Make Eclipse the most capable and efficient "front end" for creating and sharing collaborative software projects outside of Eclipse.org.
  • Encourage a broader range of developers to center shared development initiatives around Eclipse.
  • Encourage commercial infrastructure providers to create more and better open infrastructure services for the Eclipse developer community.

Scope

We have identified the following functional elements as being within scope of the proposed project:

  • An extensible model defining the interaction between the Eclipse IDE and a set of open source development services: [SC] source code repository (e.g., CVS/SVN), [DR] distribution repository (e.g., update site URL), [BT] bug/task repository (e.g., Bugzilla/JIRA) and [CC] community collaboration (e.g., newsgroup/forum/mailing list/chat/etc).
    • Aspects of this model may already addressed by other Eclipse projects, in which case this project will reuse or wrap/simplify those existing models, to the greatest extent possible.
    • A key goal of this extensible model will be to provide a simple minimal set of modeled services rather than to attempt to create a most general model.
    • Another goal of will be to provide a small set of extension points for vendors and third-parties to contribute specialized adapters that translate model actions into third-party API calls.
  • One or more exemplary open source implementations of adapters. Specifically, the project proposes to implement an AOL adapter that connects the extensible model to the APIs for SC, DR, BT, and CC services.
  • An extensible Eclipse plug-in user interface for interacting with the model. The goal is a set of menu items, context menu items, buttons, and wizards that provide the easiest possible user experience for sharing, materializing, publishing, and collaborating around small Eclipse plug-in projects:
    • Sharing: a simple path to starting a new EclipseSpaces project from a given plug-in within a workspace.
    • Materializing: from a Spaces project into a workspace—for example by browsing to the Spaces page and choosing "materialize".
    • Publishing: "one-click" creation of a standard Eclipse update site for a Spaces plug-in project in the workspace. (This may require additional project meta-data, such as a features.xml, but the user interface will step the user through the default creation of that file.) Publishing should not require the complexity of multiple "feature" and "site" projects.
    • Collaborating: in the simplest case, a menu item that opens a web page for a collaboration medium (e.g., a forum). More complex cases might involve menu items that start up the Mylar Bugzilla view, or Corona for a Spaces-mediated chat session. The exact definition of collaboration will be left to the adapter based on the back-end's collaboration services. The key user interface feature is that the path to the collaboration will be obviously connected with the project itself.

Out of Scope/ Complementary Technologies

The primary focus of the proposed project will be to address a set of unmet community/market requirements. The proposed project will leverage other Eclipse technologies to add functional breadth and depth within its target scope. And wherever possible, the project will attempt to extend and re-use complementary technologies developed by other Eclipse projects, rather than re-implement them.

Eclipse technologies that have been tentatively identified as applicable include:

  • Component metadata management and publishing and component materialization capabilities provided by the Buckminster Project
  • Workspace collaboration capabilities provided by the Corona Project
  • APIs for working with various bug repositories provided by the Mylar Project
  • Installer technology provided by the Packaging Project

We will seek input and participation from the project teams of these complementary technologies, and will proactively suggest and/or contribute enhancements and extensions.

Initial committers

The initial committers will focus on specifying the set of target virtual infrastructure services and designing and implementing the Spaces plug-in/feature-set and initial exemplary back-end implementation. The initial committers are:

  • Lucas MacGregor (AOL), Project Co-Lead
  • Henrik Lindberg (Cloudsmith), Project Co-Lead
  • Dennis O’Flynn (Compuware)
  • Filip Hrbek (Cloudsmith)
  • Thomas Hallgren (Cloudsmith)
  • Malcolm Sparks (Congreve)
  • Bjorn Freeman-Benson (Eclipse Foundation)
  • Ward Cunningham (Eclipse Foundation)
  • TBD (AOL)

In general, our agile development process will follow Eclipse.org standards for openness and transparency. Moreover, we will pro-actively seek participation in the project, whether as committers, interested parties or otherwise, from individuals or companies that can help the project address the requirements from the broadest possible segment of the ecosystem or can extend the range of virtual infrastructure services available to EclipseSpaces users.

Interested parties

The following parties have expressed interest extending the platform, contributing ideas, guidance and discussion. Key contacts listed:

  • Ross David Turk, SourceForge.net

User community

The proposed project addresses the requirements of a highly disparate group of developers, as such, supporting and soliciting feedback from a large user community of developers is critical to creating the right offering. We plan on achieving this by using the standard Eclipse.org mechanisms of supporting an open project and community of early adopters.


 
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