I have long been a fan of Eclipse, even though the last time I programmed was in Fortran. On 80-column punched cards. For me, it is a quintessential open source project: it started out trying to satisfy a basic need, and has constantly expanded its ambition, until today it encompasses an extraordinarily diverse range of programming tools and projects.
You can get a sense of that breadth from the latest release, Galileo, which is bigger than ever:
For the sixth year in a row, the Eclipse community has delivered its annual release train on its scheduled date. Galileo, the 2009 release train, is the largest ever release from the Eclipse community, comprising 33 projects and over 24 million lines of code. Over 380 committers from 44 different organizations participated to make this release possible.
Each year the Eclipse community coordinates an annual release of projects during the last week of June. The coordinated release makes it easier for Eclipse users and adopters to take advantage of the innovations and new features created by the different Eclipse projects.
Millions of Eclipse users and thousands of organizations that build software on top of Eclipse can now upgrade to this release.
The new features in the Galileo release reflect three important trends in the Eclipse community: 1) Expanding adoption of Eclipse in the enterprise, 2) innovation of Eclipse modeling technology and 3) advancement of EclipseRT runtime technology. Each project has published “new and noteworthy” documentation for their specific release.
It's not just the 33 projects, 24 million lines of code and 380 committers from 44 organisations that are impressive: also a real achievement is the fact that this massive coordinated release was delivered on its scheduled date, and for the sixth year in a row, as the press release emphasises in the very first sentence.
I think this gives a sense of the priorities of the Eclipse community, where professionalism is highly valued – and that once a deadline has been set, it is must be met.
It is that kind of professionalism and quality that makes Eclipse so important for the wider free software world. We're talking about tools that match or surpass closed-source options.
As a result, the Eclipse portfolio is an important data-point in demonstrating the open source does not mean rough and ready, or delivered when the coder can be bothered to get out of bed.
Instead, Eclipse flies the flag for the very best in free software; as such, maybe its annual release should be celebrated a little more abeyond the programming community that already knows its value well.