Orion, Top Eclipse Juno Feature #4

June 22, 2012 | 3 min Read

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 web_,_ this 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 (https://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!

For more Eclipse Tips and Tricks (and the annual Top 10 List), why not follow me on twitter:

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Ian Bull

Ian Bull

Ian is an Eclipse committer and EclipseSource Distinguished Engineer with a passion for developer productivity.

He leads the J2V8 project and has served on several …