Instantiations and Innoopract Collaborate on Eclipse Packaging Project

Innoopract and Instantiations, Inc. are joining forces on a new project to improve the "out of box" experience for new Eclipse users. The two companies have announced they will co-lead the project and allocate technical staff for its management and ongoing development.
Written by Ed Burnette, Contributor

Innoopract and Instantiations are joining forces on the new Eclipse Packaging Project (EPP). The goals of EPP include:

  • Creating entry-level downloads based on user profiles, such as "Java Developer", "C/C++ Developer", etc.
  • Provide an installer that improves the initial experience of new users of Eclipse
  • Provide a platform that allows the creation of packages from an update site (this sounds like Yoxos "Eclipse on demand" service)

The two companies have announced they will co-lead the project and allocate technical staff for its management and ongoing development.

Up to now, installing Eclipse involved downloading a .zip or .tar.gz file and uncompressing it using a tool like WinZip or gunzip. It works, but is not exactly user friendly. Also, zip and gzip are not ideal for compressing Java programs like Eclipse. Other platforms like NetBeans have benefited for some time from using a custom native installer a souped-up compression algorithm called "pack200" which can reduce some Java programs by as much as 90%. Hopefully the Eclipse installer will be able to use something similar.

Commercial distributions of Eclipse often supplied an install program to improve the "out of box" experience for their users. However until now members have used installs and packaging as a competitive differentiator. But after a while, having everyone implement the same basic functionality no longer made sense, especially as Eclipse branched off from its Java IDE roots. "With over 70 projects now within the Eclipse community there are numerous tools and frameworks available to developers," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. "The packaging project’s goal is to help them become immediately productive by providing predefined configurations to download and install."

The initial installer framework will be based on code contributed from Instantiations' RCP Developer product. "The RCP Developer installer is a proven and mature technology," said Dan Rubel, chief technology officer at Instantiations, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. "Because the EPP provides a service for a variety of developers, we are supporting and soliciting feedback from the Eclipse developer community to make sure we provide the right installer offering."

"Given our technology and expertise [with Yoxos], our role in EPP is to help organize, configure and distribute Eclipse-based packages that make sense for the community," said Markus Knauer, senior developer at Innoopract. "Eclipse has an incredibly rich set of features and the packaging project will help to focus these into tailored solutions."

The Eclipse Packaging Project will contribute installers for Eclipse's next major release ("Europa"), planned for June 2007. Dan and Markus will co-lead the project. Anyone who wants to help develop or test the installers can find more information, including a newsgroup and developer's mailing list, at the EPP home page.

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