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Innoopract Plugs into Eclipse

Germany-based plug-in developer Innoopract released Yoxos, a program that ensures other Eclipse plug-ins are up-to-date and compatible with the popular Java tools platform.

Yoxos is a $19.95 CD or download that includes a bundled version of Eclipse 3.0, as well as about 50 of the more popular plug-ins used on the platform. Also included is the org.eclipse.jdt runtime and AspectJ, the aspect-oriented programming language.

The software comes with the plug-ins already installed and configured with Eclipse 3.0. Among those available include CSSEditor, Sysdeo Eclipse Tomcat Launcher, Spindle, SQLExplorer, Hibernate Synchronizer, Visual Editor, Eclipse Wiki Editor, Eclipse Instant Messenger, Javadoc Builder and Flow4J.

Officials say the streamline distribution of the platform and plug-ins cuts down on the time spent looking for and updating software and then getting it to run on the tools platform.

Eric von der Heyden, a managing director at Innoopract, said Eclipse is somewhat the victim of its own success; there's a great number of plug-ins available, open source and otherwise, but finding one that works for a particular business can be daunting, what with more than 500 plug-ins available for the Eclipse platform.

"Eclipse has become popular much more quickly than anyone had expected," von der Heyden continued, "and the ecosystem has grown so rapidly that Eclipse users are given all these choices and have lots of possibilities. But everything's developing so quickly that getting their arms around it can be overwhelming," he said. "You invest a lot of time in it, and the next thing you know there's a new version of Eclipse or a new version of the five plug-ins you use every day.

"It's almost a distraction from the development environment," he continued. "You're spending almost all your time thinking, 'What are the tools I need to develop?'"

Officials plan to release a new version of Yoxos, now at 1.0, every two months. The updates will contain new plug-ins they support, depending on customer demand through its online forums or e-mail requests.

They also promise that any extensions used to integrate open source plug-ins with the Eclipse platform will be donated back to the community.

von der Heyden said beginning next year at this time with the scheduled release of Eclipse 3.1, Innoopract will start up a $100 yearly subscription service that will provide the six yearly updates, as opposed to the $19.95 single download/CD.

Keeping a rein on the sometimes-daunting number of open source projects surrounding Eclipse can be somewhat daunting, said Jochen Krause, Innoopract founder and president. But despite the number of plug-ins available, 500 and growing, not much effort has taken place in the community to manage them all from a central location. He said the Eclipse plug-in quandary mirrors the problems experienced with another popular open-source environment.

"We've seen such comparable things happen in other environments, for example with Linux," he said. "There are new distributions like Linux from scratch where people start all over again and get their content from 200 different sites."