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Packaging Eclipse

For the past 5 years, the open source Eclipse project has been pumping out releases for its myriad projects.

The problem is that it's not easy for a new Eclipse member to figure out what exactly they need to download and install in order to get a particular Eclipse application to work.

Enter the Eclipse Packaging Project (EPP).

The EPP is geared to organize Eclipse offerings into pre-configured, downloadable packages complete with an installer. Eclipse officials claim EPP will cut down on installation time and make it easier for users to deploy the Eclipse solutions.

Ian Skerrett, director of marketing, at the Eclipse Foundation told internetnews.com that the lack of a packaging project hasn't necessarily been a hardship for Eclipse users.

"However, it is a reflection of the fact that the number of projects at Eclipse has grown over the last couple of years," Skerrett said.

"For a newcomer, it might not be obvious which projects they should download. A goal of the packaging project is to create a small number of packages that will help address this problem."

Eclipse members Instantiations and Innoopract are helping to start the effort.

Innoopract already offers a commercial Eclipse distribution called Yoxos, which provides enterprise manageability and scalability. Instantiations' RCP Developer product will be used as the initial EPP installer framework.

Eric von der Heyden, president of Innoopract, told internetnews.com that packaging is really only an issue as the Eclipse ecosystem expands and as consumers want to take advantage of the new features.

"As the choices increase, so too does the complexity," von der Heyden said. "The packaging project will provide packages of features for specific development tasks which will help to keep the complexity under control."

The EPP will aim to minimize complexity with packages targeted at multiple operating systems. The plan is to deliver ready-to-install packages for different platforms.

Depending on the functionality and the platform, the user will download a special package for his specific platform. The EPP tooling will help to build the packages for all these platforms.

For Innoopract, helping out the EPP is not an act of corporate philanthropy but rather a real business opportunity.

"Innoopract's business is completely focused on Eclipse, so our company benefits from anything that makes Eclipse more attractive to enterprise or developer consumers," von der Heyden commented. "That is part of the reason we contribute to Eclipse on a variety of levels."

EPP is being targeted for a June release as part of the Europe Eclipse release train.