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Eclipse's 'Callisto' Onslaught

There are many software projects in both the proprietary and open source communities that don't keep their release schedules. Eclipse is not one of them.

In keeping with its release record, the Eclipse Foundation this week will release 10 projects right on schedule. It's such a huge undertaking that Eclipse branded it Callisto.

Callisto involves more than 7 million lines of project code, developed by 260 developer committers, including the efforts of 15 different ISVs spanning a dozen countries around the globe.

The roll-out of Callisto marks the third consecutive year that Eclipse has shipped a major release on schedule.

"There is a long track record in the software industry of missing dates and failing to ship on time," Mike Milinkovich, executive director of Eclipse Foundation, told internetnews.com. "We think it's really an accomplishment to be that predictable."

The 10 projects included in the Callisto release event are: Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) 2.1; C/C++ IDE (CDT) 3.1; Data Tools Platform (DTP) 1.0; Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF) 2.2; Graphical Editor Framework (GEF) 3.2; Graphical Modeling Framework (GMF)1.0; Eclipse Project 3.2; Test and Performance Tools Platform (TPTP) 4.2; Web Tools Platform (WTP) 1.5; and Visual Editor (VE) 1.2.

Milinkovich said Callisto includes the first releases for both the Data Tools Platform (DTP) and the Graphical Modeling Framework (GMF) both of which are getting Eclipse into new areas.

And the Eclipse Callisto release isn't just for Java developers either. Milinkovich said that CDT 3.1 has been around almost since the inception of Eclipse.

It is also widely used and, according to Milinkovich, helps form the basis of almost all companies in the real-time operating space. CDT currently ships with most Linux distributions.

The namesake Eclipse project also gets a boost with support for Mac OS X on Intel, as well as providing preview support for Eclipse running on Microsoft's Windows Vista.

The motivation and the need for doing 10 releases at the same time is directly related to the nature of Eclipse itself.

"When Eclipse first started it was really simple; there was one project to download and use," Milinkovich told internetnews.com.

"As we've grown, the number of projects has grown and the equivalent platform or the definition of what it means to have the Eclipse platform has grown along with it."

Milinkovich explained that many ISVs now need more than one project and that the interdependencies between the various projects is also increasing to a certain extent.

As such, the latency between the various project releases could be a potential issue for adopters. In the past there had been up to a 10-week lag between when original Eclipse projects shipped and when other projects shipped.

"By pulling together on the same day we eliminate any version incompatibility issues and the entire Eclipse platform gets there a lot faster for the adopter," Milinkovich said.

Having regular, predictable releases is also key for the adoption of the Eclipse platform.

"One of the things that is quite unique about Eclipse as a community is that we're very interested in seeing the commercial adoption of our technologies," Milinkovich said.

"We strongly feel that part of our mission in doing that is being predictable so that companies building on top of Eclipse can rely [on the fact] that they will be getting what they need when they are expecting it."

Instrumental in helping Eclipse to hit its release goals is the fact that they do six-week milestone releases throughout the year. Milinkovich noted that the milestones give Eclipse a lot of practice.

Callisto's project tally could grow next year beyond the 10 Eclipse projects it included this year. A new SOA Tools Project could well be among them.

"Over time we do expect to see more projects joining the annual release train," Milinkovich said. "It seems that a lot of projects are very interested in participating."