Orion, Top Eclipse Juno Feature #4

And now for something completely different… or maybe not.

Since I first got involved with the Eclipse ecosystem (in 2003) I’ve struggled to come up with a common theme among all Eclipse projects.  They are all written in Java (except for those that aren’t, lots of native code in Eclipse). They are all related to Java (except for those that aren’t: such as C/C++ tooling).  Everything is designed as OSGi bundles (and runs on OSGi), except that isn’t true either?  I took solace in knowing that the majority of the Eclipse projects moved towards a common goal of providing cross-platform native runtimes, and tools to help build both those runtimes and applications.  However, number 4 on my Eclipse Juno Top 10 ListEclipse Orion — threw a wrench into my classification.

The Orion project is opening Eclipse up to a whole to group of software developers.  Orion is tools for the web, on the web ,and in many ways it takes Eclipse back to its roots.  Very early on the Eclipse team realized that in order to be successful they must eat their own dogfood In other words, they must use the tools they develop.  However, when it comes to tools for the webthis wasn’t happening. Building rich-client tools (in Java) to help Javascript developers, meant that the tool designers themselves were experts in Java (not JavaScript).   The tool designers felt the pain of Eclipse and Java, not the JavaScript pain — and this made development very difficult.  The Orion project aims to change this by bringing the Web tools to the place their needed, to the web.  

To be clear, this isn’t about ’embedding Eclipse in a browser’, this is entirely new code-base (written in JavaScript) aimed at integrating tools for the web in a ‘web-based architecture’.  If you want to open multiple files, you open multiple browser tabs.  If you want to go ‘back’, you use the back button.  If you want to share code, you can share links; and if you want to ‘plug-in’ to this framework, you add new pages.

Since Orion is intended for a distributed platform (the web), a central Orion server has been setup on OrionHub (http://orionhub.org/).  You can login, clone your favorite Git project, and start hacking.

Orion is officially part of Juno, however it has still not released its 1.0 (this is targeted for Fall 2012).  There are still a large number of notable features in Orion (and available on OrionHub) including:

 Powerful Git integration

A plugin model, and a growing number of available plugins:

Syntax highlighting and content assist:

An extensible console:

You can even self-host a site right from Orion:

As I mentioned, Orion is very new but represents an exciting new direction for Eclipse.  Some of the best Eclipse committers are working on Orion, giving me confidence that this project will not only succeed, but it will be the next big thing in software tools. Ken Walker and Simon Kaegi are leading Orion, and they’re armed with a great crew, including:  Andrew Clement, Andrew Eisenberg, Anton McConville, Andrew Niefer, Boris Bokowski, Felipe Heidrich, Grant Gayed, John Arthorne, Kris De Volder, Ken Walker, Libing Wang, Max Li, Mike Wilson (McQ), Malgorzata Janczarska, Mark Macdonald, Mihai Sucan, Nayna Jain, Szymon Brandys, Susan McCourt, Silenio Quarti, Simon Kaegi and Tomasz Zarna.  Keep up the great work!

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13 Responses to “Orion, Top Eclipse Juno Feature #4”

  1. John Arthorne says:

    > a common goal of providing cross-platform native runtimes, and tools to help
    > build both those runtimes and applications. However, number 4 on my Eclipse
    > Juno Top 10 List — Eclipse Orion — threw a wrench into my classification.

    This common goal sounds right on the money for Orion too. The only runtime technology left that runs on all our computing devices is HTML5/JavaScript. Deeper native integration is rapidly arriving too – through browser capabilities and specs like the HTML5 file system API.

  2. Marco Massenzio says:

    > You can login, clone your favorite Git project, and start hacking.

    well, apparently not: either I’m missing something blatantly obvious, or you can’t CREATE a new account on Orion – seriously?
    you can login, can even auth with Google account, can’t ‘sign up’…. is this still a ‘closed’ service?
    if so, who cares?

  3. Ian Bull says:


    There is a sign-up button on the main Orion page [1]. Maybe it requires someone to manually approve the request (something unlikely to happen on a Friday evening). I just tried with a different email address and it worked for me.

    [1] http://www.eclipse.org/orion/

  4. Ian Bull says:

    @Marco, I should also mention that you can download and host your own server:


    If you start Orion and connect to http://localhost:8080 in your browser, it should work.

  5. Marco Massenzio says:

    Thanks for super-quick reply: that signup would be kinda hard to miss LoL
    In the article though, you gave the link to orionhub.org
    (no big signup there :)

  6. Ian Bull says:


    You’re right. It’s a little strange that the OrionHub sign-up is not on the Orion page. I thought they used to have a sign-up there too (or at least a link). Sounds like a good bug to file.

    I’m happy it’s working for you.

  7. Marco Massenzio says:

    a bit slow (but expect that the JS code will be cached locally so should only be slow on the first download) and not really meant for Java (hey, that’s one repo I had on github :) took the grand total of 30 sec to clone + start using) but totally worth checking out for JS code
    I’ll spread the word at work!

    Thanks, Ian!

  8. Ken Walker says:

    There will be a signup button once we push 0.5 to OrionHub next week. And no, currently not meant for Java compilation though syntax highlighting is supported through CodeMirror modes. We are investigating server side scenarios like this though. Marco we’re looking for feedback so any issues you have are really worth it to us. The “log a bug” button on the bottom right can help you out there but maybe wait until we push 0.5 as part of the Juno train. Thanks Ian for helping out!

  9. Marco Massenzio says:

    Hey Ken,

    will definitely do, although JS not really my grazing ground :)
    Thanks for all the good work!

  10. […] will be available in 3 days. Three days left until Juno means that I’m into the Top 3 Eclipse features in my Juno Top 10 List. During the past week I’ve talked about how Eclipse can be classified […]

  11. […] foundation, then others could help drive innovation forward – and we all benefit.  Number 2 on my Juno Top 10 List — code recommenders — is an example of great innovation on top […]

  12. […] 9. LDT & Koneki 8. Mylyn & Intent 7. RAP Protocol 6. Git 5. JDT Enhancements 4. Orion 3. Xtext / Xtend 2. Code […]

  13. Ryan P says:

    It looks kinda cool, but it makes me sad knowing that the currently poor state of the JS editor in Eclipse itself is likely to remain poor if more energy is focused on Orion’s JS environment than Eclipse’s. :(

13 responses so far

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