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Eclipse Che 5.0 Brings Docker Compose Support, Workspace Agents, and More

| by Sergio De Simone Follow 21 Followers on Nov 16, 2016. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

At the first CheConf16, a virtual user conference dedicated to Eclipse Che, a containerized portable development workspace, Codenvy CEO and Che project leader Tyler Jewell announced Eclipse Che 5.0. Expected to be released before the end of the year, it will introduce support for Docker Compose, Workspace Agents, and more.

Introduced earlier this year, Eclipse Che features a cloud IDE, a workspace server, and runtime portability through containers. Jewell described the first six months of Eclipse Che as a success.

Che has seen over 600,000 hours of usage in the last two months; last week alone, we saw over 100,000 usage hours across over 1,500 IP addresses. We have over 70 contributors, 3,300 GitHub stars and 550 forks on GitHub.

Eclipse Che fundamental ideas are workspaces and runtime stacks. Runtime stacks provide the environment for the app. Workspaces integrate projects and runtime stacks to provide a consistent and readily available development environment. Being built on Docker images, runtimes make the process of creating or relocating a workspace trivial. Workspaces are hosted on Che server and can be accessed through a browser-based IDE, using a REST API, or an SSH connection to a desktop-based IDE.

As mentioned, Che 5.0 brings support for Docker Compose Files, used to describe a Docker application made of different containers implementing its various services. Docker Compose allows them to create and start all the services from the configuration file with a single command. Docker Compose support in Che 5.0 means developers can not only choose a runtime stack already available from Che, as before, but they can also provide a Compose File to create a custom stack.

Another important feature of Che 5.0 is Workspace Agents, which make it possible for developers to grab a production, off-the-shelf Docker images, e.g., an Ubuntu distribution, a virtual machine, etc., and inject into it development-specific features, such as SSH access, terminal support, Intellisense, etc. This effectively converts a production workspace into a development workspace.

Workspace Agents can work with any available Docker image, with the only requirements that the Docker image has bash installed and it does not terminate. Developers can also create their own agents. Previous to the introduction of Workspace Agents, developers had to select a pre-existing, development-ready image from Che server.

On the front of ease of use, Che introduces the Stack Editor and Chedir. The Stack Editor is a visual tool that allows developers to:

  • create machines, which will be translated into a Docker Compose file;
  • inject agents;
  • define environment variables;
  • control memory availability, and more.

The Stack Editor dashboard also includes the possibility to verify that a created stack is working correctly, e.g., machine are created correctly, agents are injected, etc.

Chedir is a utility meant to provide configurable and reproducible workspaces, a sort of Vagrant for Che in Jewell’s words. Chedir makes it easy for developers to clone a repo from Git, then install it into a local Che server, starting one if none is there. All the relevant details can be stored in a Chedir configuration file, or sensible default will be used.

Finally, another important feature of Che 5.0 is the adoption of the Open Language Protocol, recently open-sourced by Microsoft. The Language Server Protocol aims to solve the problem posed to source editors by the existence of dozens of languages and their different requirements to support syntax highlighting, auto-completion, refactoring, and so on. Che 5.0 adopts it to support in its current version C#, PHP, Java, Go, and CSS. Planned to be available in Q1 next year are Rust, JavaScript, TypeScript, Groovy, and Haxe.

Che 5.0 will bring many more features, such as support for RedHat OpenShift, enhanced support for PHP, desktop IDE compatibility, etc.

Che Milestone 7 (M7) release is already available for download, while GA is scheduled to be released in 6–10 weeks.

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