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Orion 6.0 Brings Language Tooling Support for JavaScript

by James Chesters on Jun 24, 2014 |

The Eclipse Orion project team is set to release version 6.0 this month, bringing improvements to the language tooling support for JavaScript development.

Started by the IBM Eclipse team to investigate moving application development to the cloud, Orion aims to create a browser-based open tool integration platform focused on developing for the web, in the web. Orion's tools are written in JavaScript, and run in the browser.

Ken Walker, project lead for Eclipse Orion, told InfoQ there are several components improved or added to Orion since 5.0. 

The initial support for Docker.io containers for developer workspaces is released, and the team is working with the Eclipse Foundation infrastructure team to make this available at OrionHub. With the Docker container support, a developer will be able to run standard Node.js tools against their Orion workspace.

If you are a Node.js developer then having the Docker.io capabilities will make your cloud-based development easier. 

In his article "Orion 6.0 – Language Tooling Enhancements", Curtis Windatt highlights the most notable changes coming with the imminent 6.0 release. Specific features include JavaScript tooling inside HTML script blocks, JavaScript validation overhaul, and scoped code templates.

Talking about the changes, Windatt said:

The validation/linting support for JavaScript in Orion, built on ESLint, has been given an overhaul with new rules, an updated engine, and more user flexibility. The validator will scan your JavaScript files (as well as HTML [script] tags) and add errors or warnings to the margin of the editor. Hovering provides a more detailed explanation of the issue.

Windatt continues that users can now customise the warnings they see on the new validation settings page, and each validation rule can be set to error, warning, or ignore. Further to this, Orion 6.0 brings a large number of added rules, including warning users about issues such as discouraged code styles, missing documentation, unused variables, and unreachable code. Users are able to set for themselves the severity of rules via the validation settings page.

Eclipse's Orion project hasn't always been uncomplicated. When Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, introduced Orion in January 2011, entrepreneur and software architect Zviki Cohen commented that most online IDEs didn't come close "to the rich feature set you get from a true desktop" and the Eclipse IDE was "just joining the crowd".

Journalist Neil McAllister in his 2011 article "Will Orion get developers to code in the cloud?" was also less than complimentary. McAllister said:

As impressive as Orion may be, it's also underwhelming. A programmer's editor running inside a browser window might sound extraordinary, but so does a dog riding a bicycle. Neither is particularly useful.

Walker, however, says the community's reaction to Orion in 2014 is positive. OrionHub has over 30,000 subscribed users as of 6.0, and Walker says users can expect to see continued expansion of the Docker capabilities, as well as a focus on Node.js development, and expanding features in the language tooling for JavaScript.

A move towards continuous delivery for the project was also recently announced on the Orion News site. In his article "Orion 6.0 – Continuous Delivery" software developer John Arthome said: "Rather than produce a stable build every six weeks with a big bang of new features, we are aiming for a continuous stream, each released on its own schedule when ready for consumption."

InfoQ readers that would like to contribute to the project should look at the Orion Wiki page and introduce themselves on the mailing list. Readers can also download Orion (Java or Node version) and/or login to OrionHub.org and make an account. The Orion team welcome feedback of all kinds on the project.

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