Coordinating the updates of 33 projects at a time is no mean feat, says Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. In many cases, one part works with another. If they all chose separate release dates, it would be hard to coordinate the versions of one tool with another, he said.
More periodic updates to Eclipse occur as well every six weeks, but the annual "release train" is a way for all the parts to get resynchronized, he said. Last year's Ganymede release saw 23 projects coordinating a total of 18 million lines of code.
This year's release includes important updates to Equinox, the Eclipse project that serves as the reference implementation for software object interoperability, as set by the OSGi Alliance's 4.2 specification. The OSGi Alliance is a standards body setting specifications for independent software modules to work together.
It includes support for the Apple Mac Cocoa framework for programming in Objective C. It also supports PHP Developer Tools 2.1 produced by the PHP Development Tools open source project.
For Java developers, Eclipse's Galileo release includes a new memory analyzer to help find and fix memory leaks, reducing overall memory consumption of a program. Memory leaks occur in several ways, such as when a software object is built and used, then retained when there's no further use for it.
Galileo also includes new XSL tooling for editing and debugging XSL--Extensible Stylesheet Language for building Web pages established by the World Wide Web Consortium.
Software modeling in Eclipse has been augmented by an Xtext project that allows for the creation of domain-specific languages. A DSL is something like the Excel spreadsheet's macro language or CSound, a language for creating audio files. It addresses a specific problem domain in programming rather than trying to be a general-purpose language, such as Cobol or Java. With a domain-specific language, programmers can accomplish more in a domain with fewer APIs compared with a general-purpose language.
The Eclipse workbench started out as an internal IBM integrator for VisualAge and other tools. It was released as an open source project in 2001. IBM put an arbitrary $40 million value on the release, but its real value proved to be as a rallying point for fragmented and dissimilar third-party Java tools, which could be engineered to swap files as Eclipse plug-ins. The workbench made Java tools more competitive with Microsoft's more tightly integrated Visual Studio, and it eventually gained tools that developed in other languages as well as Java.
The Eclipse Foundation was established in 2004 to provide governance for the workbench and serve as a sponsor of Eclipse open source projects. The 33 projects contributing code to the Galileo release had contributors representing 44 companies, Milinkovich said.
In an April survey completed by 1,365 visitors to the Eclipse.org site, 89.1% said they were satisfied with the Eclipse workbench and its offerings.
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