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The establishment of a plant or animal in a new habitat

Monday, May 1, 2006 - 16:14 by Wayne Beaton

Are you looking for a course on developing plug-ins for Eclipse 3.1? You might take a look at the the downloads page for the Ecesis Project. Here, you’ll find several versions of the plug-in course, as well as one titled “Java Programming with Eclipse”. All the courses are licensed under the EPL 1.0.

I’ve always assumed that “ECESIS” was an acronym. It’s not. Merriam-Webster defines “Ecesis” as “the establishment of a plant or animal in a new habitat”. It’s an apt name as the project is concerned with establishing Eclipse as broadly as possible through education.

These courses come complete with presentation materials, exercises, and solutions. There’s even a video capture of the course featuring Dwight Deugo; while it’s an older version of the course that he’s delivering in the videos, it’s still useful material. The videos are professionally produced and are well edited.

These materials aren’t as widely used as might be expected (certainly not as widely used as I might expect). I have my thoughts on this:

Organizations would rather use their own material
I’ve really only heard that this is an issue for some organizations; I certainly haven’t spoken to anyone myself that has this issue. My only possible response to this is that making your own materials when perfectly good ones are available seems as silly as making your own graphics editing framework when you could just use GEF instead.

Of course, the following reasons may contribute…

They’re hard to find
I do understand the difficulty in finding the courses. Heck, it’s hard to find anything on our website. We’re working on this. I may add a link to the courses on the evangelism site just to add one more pointer to it.

They’re in PowerPoint?!?
PowerPoint. Yikes! Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of great presentation software out there. At least I’m not aware of much. Sure, there’s Open Office, but in fairness to the Ecesis contributors, it hasn’t been the most stable office software available (at least in my experience with Impress). It’s getting better so maybe it’s time to make the switch.

Frankly, I’d much rather see an open (perhaps XML-based) presentation format that can be consumed by Open Office (DocBook?). I have a feeling that this could be the basis of an entire month’s worth of blogging, so I’m going to stop here. I do invite you to comment on this issue though: what format should we be using for course materials and other presentations?

The licensing issue is a big one, and I don’t have too many answers. The course materials are licensed under EPL, but what does that mean? You can certainly download the materials and use them either for yourself or for delivery to an audience.

The real problem comes when you start making derivative works. You may, for example, want to add your company’s logo to the slides; or perhaps you need to add a slide or three. Strictly speaking, if you make a derivative work from a presentation, you need to make it available under the EPL (you don’t have to give it to us, but you do have to make it available–perhaps on your own website).

The real challenge is that the definition of derivative work tends to be gray. Changing every slide seems like an obvious derivative work even if you’re only adding your own logo. What if you add a slide (and, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the slide contains proprietary information)? Do you have to make that change available under the EPL? Unfortunately, this is a discussion best undertaken with your own lawyer. At the end of the day, it’s probably way easier to just include any proprietary information in a separate module (i.e. a different file). But still… check with your lawyer.

So there it is. A place where you can download a bunch of courses for free. If you’re new to Eclipse, this might be a great place to start.