Eclipse goes to GitHub
With next week's release of Eclipse Kepler just around the corner, Mike Milinkovich has written a post looking to the future of Social Coding at Eclipse. In it, he talks about the possibility of Eclipse projects being mastered at GitHub rather than on the foundation's own servers, citing Vert.X as the initial candidate for leading this change.
With the adoption of Git having jumped from a small percentage a few years ago to the de-facto standard, most projects are now using Git – which brings the possibility of mirroring to other Git hosting repositories such as GitHub and Bitbucket. Already, a number of repositories are mirrored on the official Eclipse Foundation page at GitHub, and other Git repositories such as Google's eclipse.googlesource.com hosting mechanism already carry copies of the Eclipse data.
Another key factor in enabling this decision is the use of contributor license agreements, or CLAs. The automatically be enforced after Kepler ships and replace the older requirement to have a bug raised with the assignments in situ.
At the moment, GitHub doesn't have a means of enforcing CLAs, although it has been talked about a number of times in the past. This means that a significant number of projects on GitHub have no license or IP cleanliness, a key tenet upon which Eclipse rests. Checking whether a commit comes from a user with a valid CLA is something that existing project owners will be expected to check for GitHub contributions, although a git hook will verify the contributions automatically in the future. As a result, only a few demonstrator projects (like Vert.X) will use GitHub initially, although many others have expressed an interest in it in the future. Stephen O'Grady writes that one of the things important to open source foundations in a post-GitHub world is the value of brand and IP management.
As for the Eclipse IDE itself, the results of the recent Eclipse Community Survey have shown a dip in the adoption of Eclipse 4.2, marred as it was by some initial performance complaints. Although the performance was improved for the recent Eclipse 4.2.2 release, it is expected Eclipse 4.3 (Kepler) which is released next week will bring performance back to a par with the Eclipse 3.7 stream. Another point which may help the adoption of the Eclipse 4.x series is that some of the key plugins – such as EGit 3.0 – have already dropped support for Eclipse 3.7, and will now only work on Eclipse 4.2 or later. Whether this addresses everyone's concerns or not remains to be seen, but the focus of Eclipse 4.x has been one of polishing rather than new features.