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Eclipse Tooling Platforms

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - 11:05 by Mike Milinkovich

Two weeks ago at EclipseCon, the Eclipse Che project announced its 4.0 release. This announcement is the first major result from the Eclipse Cloud Development strategy we announced eighteen months ago. Eclipse Che is an innovative new IDE platform which has been designed specifically for the needs of web and cloud developers, offering a whole new way to think about developer workspaces in a container world. Tyler Jewell, the Che project leader and CEO of Codenvy did a keynote at EclipseCon North America where he welcomed IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, and SAP on stage to show what they are already doing with the Che technology. The reaction to the announcement from developers, adopters, and the press has been amazing.

In short, Eclipse Che is on track for becoming a huge success.

However, as with many things in life success in one area raises questions about others. In particular we’ve heard some questions about what this all means for the Eclipse JDT IDE that developers have known and loved for the past fifteen years. TL;DR: Eclipse Che and the Eclipse IDE platform are complementary to one another, and both are going to be more successful because of each other.

More details:

Is Eclipse Che going to replace the Eclipse IDE?
No. It’s a different project, staffed by a different team. Remember, this is open source where the community is the capacity. There is obviously some overlap between both, but they have distinct goals, advantages and benefits, so the Eclipse IDE platform remains relevant and actively developed.

Is Eclipse Che and the Eclipse IDE interoperable?
Partially. There are ways to move many projects between the Eclipse IDE and Eclipse Che. We generally see many opportunities to make it simpler for developers to smoothly transition from local to distributed development and back. There are generally more opportunities for the projects to collaborate together than to compete.

So there are 2 IDE platforms in the Eclipse Community?
The Eclipse Community actually has three platforms for building tooling extensions. Eclipse RCP, Eclipse Orion, and Eclipse Che. Eclipse RCP’s desktop plug-in model and structure is widely adopted and broadly understood. Eclipse Orion provides a client-side plugin framework to enable web tooling and editor extensions. Eclipse Che builds on Orion and Eclipse JDT to create a distributed workspace and cloud IDE extension platform. These platforms are partially competing, and we’re fine with that.

Why is the Foundation fine with that?
The community is the capacity, and we would much rather have innovative new projects happen at Eclipse than elsewhere. The Eclipse Foundation is fine with internal competition. Both the Foundation and the Community know that competition can bring innovation. Moreover, Eclipse Che and the Eclipse IDE have different objectives that drive them to create different extension architectures.

What are the main differences?
Che defines a workspace to include all of the dependencies necessary to let a developer contribute without first installing software. The Che workspace includes a runtime, project files, and a cloud IDE. The nature of workspaces makes them portable and shareable. Che provides a server that hosts multiple workspaces for a group.The Eclipse IDE targets the developer workstation with tighter integration to the system and more options to customize it locally.

Is this short-term, mid-term, long-term…?
We are not the ones who decide this. Developers now have one more alternative with Eclipse Che, and we’ll let them make their choices and drive the future of software development. Let’s ask this again in 5 years ?