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Eclipse Mars Celebrates a Decade of Annual Release Trains

| by Alex Blewitt Follow 4 Followers on Jun 24, 2015. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Today, the Eclipse Foundation announced the release of Eclipse Mars, the tenth annual combined release of Eclipse software. Although the Eclipse Foundation celebrated its tenth anniversary last year and the eponymous IDE's anniversary was in 2011, the combined annual release train didn't start until Callisto in 2006 (with Eclipse 3.2). Prior to that date, the IDE provided annual releases but other Eclipse projects released at independent times (often a few months afterwards) making inter-project dependencies difficult to manage. The combined release train provided stability and a way of testing out and shaking bugs between projects, as well as sharing a release schedule with winding down processes that make it easier to ensure last minute changes don't break downstream consumers. The Eclipse IDE requires a minimum of Java 7 to run, with next year's release Neon potentially moving over to Java 8.

The Mars release of Eclipse incorporates additional Docker tooling in the Linux tools, better Maven and Gradle support (with updates to the embedded tools), enhanced Java 8 features and early access support for Java 9 through the Eclipse Marketplace. There are enhancements to the runtime as well; the Oomph project powers a custom installer which can be used to materialise and configure an IDE along with checking out projects automatically (see the presentation on Oomph and an interview with its creator previously covered on InfoQ). An automated reporting feature provided by the code recommenders project has been providing feedback during the development cycle (see the previous InfoQ article on the feature) which has led to a better release quality for this year's release. Additional changes in the code recommenders project include constructor and subtype completion and is now enabled by default in Eclipse Mars packages. A welcome change for Maven users is the ability to have nested projects support, closing a bug raised over a decade ago as well as a better layout for Eclipse Mac applications also raised over a decade ago. Changes to the default timeout for content assist will be useful for fast typists who rely on content assist for code completion.

Other Eclipse projects have shipped updates as part of the combined release; the Jubula project has released a client API for testing and the Sirius diagramming project has improved performance for big models and query language. The Git support in Eclipse has been improved, adding support for git-flow and rebasing along with stashes have been improved. The majority of the projects have updated to Java 7 support including changes including try-with-resources support to avoid resource leaks.

The infrastructure for reporting Eclipse mirrors has improved, with up-to-date health checks and the removal of partial and FTP only mirrors together with a GeoIP routing for ordering the mirrors list means that the downloads will be faster than before. Other Eclipse projects that aren't on the release train have also had releases; for example, the Vert.X 3.0 release which includes a new Vert.X-Web project and support for Reactive Streams

As with previous years, Ian Bull of EclipseSource has been writing his "top ten Eclipse features", which this year includes:

  1. The Oomph installer which provides a completely new way of installing Eclipse instances
  2. Automatic error reporting which has caught many issues ahead of this year's release
  3. Support for Git flow in Eclipse with tools to follow the git-flow process
  4. Docker tools support in Eclipse Linuxtools
  5. JDT improvements such as Lambda refactorings and early Java 9 suport
  6. The e4tools, which allow the creation of E4 widgets and applications, are now part of the combined release train
  7. The C++ launchbar which makes applications easy to run inside Eclipse
  8. The support for UI monitoring, which allows hangs in the UI to be detected and reported to improve responsiveness
  9. Improvements in the platform such as transparent backgrounds, the use of PNGs instead of Gifs, and improved dark themes
  10. Last but by no means least, proper Mac application support, a bug this InfoQ author raised back in April 2004.

Eclipse is available for immediate download at https://www.eclipse.org/downloads/ but you might like to try the new Eclipse installer

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Updating from 4.5 release candidates by Alex Blewitt

If you're updating from a 4.5 release candidate and are getting a 'repository not found' error then you might be hitting bug 470900, which can also be resolved by deleting the ~/.eclipse/org.eclipse.oomph.p2 folder. If you're updating from a prior install without Eclipse oomph installed this shouldn't be a problem.


Note that the change to the Mac application folder layout means that Mac applications cannot be upgraded from Eclipse 4.4 to Eclipse 4.5 in situ. Other platforms are not affected.

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