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Q&A with EclipseCon 2021 Program Committee Chair

Friday, April 23, 2021 - 06:11 by Gael Blondelle

EclipseCon is the leading conference for developers, architects, and open source business leaders to learn about Eclipse technologies and share best practices. With the objective of meeting the community’s needs, the sessions and keynotes at EclipseCon are chosen by an independent program committee made up of volunteers from the Eclipse community. I had a chat with Committee Chair, Cédric Brun, who gives us some additional insights into the EclipseCon 2021 program committee and what we can expect to see at EclipseCon this October. 

How does the program committee select talks for EclipseCon?

Selecting talks is a great challenge, as the Eclipse community focuses on many domains beyond IDEs, such as IoT, cloud native technologies like Jakarta EE and MicroProfile, testing and modeling. 

Each year, EclipseCon gets many more submissions than can fit in the program. We want the program to be high quality and represent the depth of domains of interest to the Eclipse community. This means we need a program committee (PC) with knowledge of all these areas. The committee is independent and is made up of volunteers from across the Eclipse community.

The program committee work really starts with the early bird submissions. Each PC member picks their five favorite submissions, which are then discussed and narrowed down to a  list of early picks. 

Once the call for proposals has closed, there are often hundreds of submissions for the program committee to review in several steps. First, the PC does a quick assessment of all the submissions to remove sales pitches, spam, duplicates, or buggy submissions. 

We also check which track the valid submissions are in, and add tags and keywords which will be useful when we have to make decisions related to the balance of topics within the program. When we need more information for a given submission, a PC member reaches out to the speaker to ask for clarification.

Following the initial review, each of the PC members (this year there are 11) goes through the submissions and scores them from 1 to 10 with a comment capturing the rationale behind the vote. The comments are particularly useful when we discuss the talks later on. If a PC member has a conflict of interest with a submission or feels they do not have enough expertise to have a strong opinion, they can skip voting, but we make sure to have at least 6 votes.

Once we have the votes, we can start making selections. There are usually a set of talks with very high scores and little standard deviation. Those will be accepted pretty easily as the PC as a whole assessed that the talk will have good content and good delivery. A significant standard deviation means we need to discuss the submission further. At that point, the comments captured earlier are pretty useful. On the other end of the spectrum, there are also submissions with a low average and low standard deviation, which will get declined. The “Accepted” or “Declined” decision is made during dedicated calls with the committee. For every declined submission we also note down why it’s been declined and what could be improved. This feedback is sent to the speaker with the decision.

Balance of topics and technologies is something we strive for, but it’s more of an art than a science. We aim for good presentations, but we also aim for having new projects, new speakers, new topics, and to not have a specific technology dominate the program. The best way to achieve that, besides having PC members with open minds and wide interests, is to make sure every community member gets the chance to submit a talk and to help them create a great submission.

All of this is only possible thanks to the efforts of the PC members and their involvement. EclipseCon 2020 was a great success thanks to them, and I’m excited to do it again with such a fantastic team!

What will the program committee be looking for in 2021?

We want the program to reflect the enthusiasm of our community, its openness, and how open source (and specifically Eclipse technologies) lead to innovation. We are looking for talks that will help the audience learn about Eclipse technologies or the community. We especially want speakers who will make the delivery shine. 

There are so many exciting things going on in the countless projects hosted at the Eclipse Foundation, many large-scale and in-house uses of those technologies and many new industry challenges. We want our community to keep learning!

What tracks can we expect at EclipseCon 2021?

We try to cover everything built on Eclipse technologies, from runtimes, to apps, to tools, to full-blown IDEs — either desktop applications based on the RCP platform or web-based tools like Eclipse Che and Eclipse Theia among others. 

The Eclipse Foundation has a special relationship with Java both as an IDE and as the host of impactful projects both for the runtimes like Eclipse OpenJ9 or Eclipse Adoptium, and frameworks in the cloud native space with Jakarta EE and Eclipse Microprofile. It also boasts a dynamic ecosystem in IoT and edge for industry, smart cities and other emerging use cases, and I also expect many submissions regarding modeling tools and technologies.

We also like having talks with a broader perspective with the “All Things Quality” track for sharing experiences about testing and quality, and the “Open Source Way” track, focusing on OSS in organizations related to contributions, governance models, the risks and rewards in doing open source, and more.

Last but not least, people around the world are building such diverse things with Eclipse technologies that not everything fits clearly into a track, so we have “Other Cool Stuff.” This track is for any topic the technically-minded folks in the Eclipse community would find fun or cool — rockets, machine learning, quantum computing, etc. We often have great talks from this track. We hope that people will surprise us!

How can the community give feedback to the program committee?

EclipseCon is an event for the Eclipse community. If you have suggestions on how to make this year’s event even better, send us an email.



Submissions are now open for EclipseCon 2021

Submit your proposal by June 15, 2021 for your chance to speak at this year’s event.