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Presentation: How (7 years of) Eclipse Changed my Views on Software Development

by Abel Avram on Feb 08, 2009 | NOTICE: The next QCon is in New York Jun 9-13, Join us!

In this presentation filmed during QCon London 2008, Erich Gamma shared the lessons learnt being deeply involved in the development of the Eclipse platform over the years. From being a platform in closed development, Eclipse turned into an open source one supported by a large and growing community. Erich also talked about Jazz, IBM’s software development platform which incorporates the lessons learnt from Eclipse.

Watch: How (7 years of) Eclipse Changed my Views on Software Development (1h)

Erich started his presentation with a short introduction to Eclipse’s history. The project started during the fall of 2000 in a closed development environment. Eclipse 1.0 was open sourced in November 2001 after the platform’s foundation was laid. The following major releases all took place in June with one exception - 2.1, which was released in March 2003.

The first lessons learnt during closed development were:

  • Modularity matters - everything is a plug-in
  • Make it easy to write extensions – the plug-in environment
  • Extensibility through extension points
  • Scalability concerns built in from the beginning – provides a growing path

The first lessons learnt after Eclipse was open sourced were:

  • Transparency helps existing development
  • Use same communication channels inside as outside

More lessons were learnt later as the Eclipse community grew:

  • Large organizations can behave like smaller ones
  • Communication is open to all
  • Everyone is accountable

Later on, agility started to be introduced to Eclipse: iterations marked by milestone releases (M1, M2, …) taking place at 6 weeks. The lessons learnt and presented by Erich were numerous, too many for this introduction. Erich’s session ends up with a presentation of Jazz, IBM’s software development platform, which incorporates all the lessons learnt while building Eclipse and expressed through experience accumulated, tools, communities, agile.

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