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3/15/2008
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Eclipse Applications To Plug Into More Devices

Equinox will give Java developers a lightweight runtime capable of executing their Java and Ajax programs across a wide variety of devices, from servers to cell phones.

The file-sharing environment for Java tools, open source Eclipse, is getting an accompanying runtime environment project called Equinox.

Equinox will give Java developers a lightweight runtime capable of executing their Java and Ajax programs across a wide variety of devices. The goal is to let programs that are created with the tools that plug into the Eclipse programmer's workbench plug themselves into both large and small computers, from servers to cell phones.

Adding runtimes to a tools workbench "is a natural evolution of Eclipse," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation.

The Equinox runtime will handle applications and services built with both Java and Ajax, a combination used in many Web 2.0-type Web sites.

Eclipse programmers represent a wide variety of vendors and independent developers using Java. They currently develop in Java ME for embedded systems, Java Standard Edition or Java Enterprise Edition, and deploy their code using a variety of runtime environments.

"There's been no runtime that spans the spaces between tiers," said Milinkovich. By "spaces between tiers," he means code designed for a server often can't necessarily run effectively on a laptop, a tablet, a Java cell phone, or other handheld device.

In the same way that Eclipse lets programmers move files they are working on from tool to tool in a shared environment, Equinox seeks to move Java components from one runtime environment to another and still have them run predictably on different types of devices.

The Eclipse Foundation's board announced that it has created a top-level open source initiative, the Equinox Runtime project, to develop a community around its embryonic Equinox runtime environment. The announcement comes with the opening of the annual EclipseCon conference for Eclipse users in Santa Clara, Calif.

Microsoft with its Windows platform has done a better job of allowing programmers to develop an application and have it run on a variety of Windows-based devices. The Equinox runtime will seek a similar portability for Java applications with a predictable ability to perform "across tiers," as well as their general portability across different computers.

Milinkovich said current efforts to create runtime environments for applications created with Eclipse represent disjointed, "scattered projects now." He cited five existing projects within the foundation, each with a different purpose, such as the Rienna and the Eclipse Rich Client Platform, both front ends for applications built inside Eclipse. Equinox will become a focus for creating one component model that works across devices with different runtime environments.

The Equinox project will be lead by Jeff McAffer, an Eclipse architect formerly with IBM and founder of Code 9, an Eclipse-based software supplier, and Jochen Krause, CEO of Innopract, founder of the Rapid Ajax Platform open source project, which lets Ajax run on Eclipse. The Equinox project management committee will also include Ricco Deutscher of Sopera, Douglas Clarke of Oracle, and Thomas Watson of IBM (not a relation to IBM founder, Thomas J. Watson).

Equinox implements a lightweight runtime specification set by the OSGi Alliance, which was founded in 1999 to provide open source specifications and a shared, component integration platform, so code created as open source would be more likely to work with other open source products.

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