Screenshot of Eclipse 3.3
|Developer(s)||Free and open source software community|
|Stable release||3.5.2 Galileo SR2 / February 26, 2010|
|Preview release||3.6M5 / January 29, 2010|
|Operating system||Linux, Mac, Windows, Opensolaris (Cross-platform)|
|License||Eclipse Public License|
Eclipse is a multi-language software development environment comprising an integrated development environment (IDE) and an extensible plug-in system. It is written primarily in Java and can be used to develop applications in Java and, by means of the various plug-ins, in other languages as well, including C, C++, COBOL, Python, Perl, PHP, and others. The IDE is often called Eclipse ADT for Ada, Eclipse CDT for C, Eclipse JDT for Java and Eclipse PDT for PHP.
The initial codebase originated from VisualAge. In its default form it is meant for Java developers, consisting of the Java Development Tools (JDT). Users can extend its capabilities by installing plug-ins written for the Eclipse software framework, such as development toolkits for other programming languages, and can write and contribute their own plug-in modules.
Eclipse employs plug-ins in order to provide all of its functionality on top of (and including) the runtime system, in contrast to some other applications where functionality is typically hard coded. The runtime system of Eclipse is based on Equinox, an OSGi standard compliant implementation.
This plug-in mechanism is a lightweight software componentry framework. In addition to allowing Eclipse to be extended using other programming languages such as C and Python, the plug-in framework allows Eclipse to work with typesetting languages like LaTeX, networking applications such as telnet, and database management systems. The plug-in architecture supports writing any desired extension to the environment, such as for configuration management. Java and CVS support is provided in the Eclipse SDK, with Subversion support provided by third-party plug-ins.
With the exception of a small run-time kernel, everything in Eclipse is a plug-in. This means that every plug-in developed integrates with Eclipse in exactly the same way as other plug-ins; in this respect, all features are created equal. Eclipse provides plug-ins for a wide variety of features, some of which are through third parties using both free and commercial models. Examples of plug-ins include a UML plug-in for Sequence and other UML diagrams, a plug-in for Database explorer, and many others.
The Eclipse SDK includes the Eclipse Java Development Tools (JDT), offering an IDE with a built-in incremental Java compiler and a full model of the Java source files. This allows for advanced refactoring techniques and code analysis. The IDE also makes use of a workspace, in this case a set of metadata over a flat filespace allowing external file modifications as long as the corresponding workspace "resource" is refreshed afterwards. The Visual Editor project allows interfaces to be created interactively, thus allowing Eclipse to be used as an RAD tool.
Eclipse's widgets are implemented by a widget toolkit for Java called SWT, unlike most Java applications, which use the Java standard Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT) or Swing. Eclipse's user interface also uses an intermediate GUI layer called JFace, which simplifies the construction of applications based on SWT.
Eclipse provides the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) for developing general purpose applications. The following components constitute the rich client platform:
Eclipse began as an IBM Canada project. It was developed by Object Technology International (OTI) as a Java-based replacement for the Smalltalk based VisualAge family of IDE products, which itself had been developed by OTI. In November 2001, a consortium was formed to further the development of Eclipse as open source. In January 2004, the Eclipse Foundation was created.
Eclipse was originally released under the Common Public License, but was later relicensed under the Eclipse Public License. The Free Software Foundation has said that both licenses are free software licenses, but are incompatible with the GNU General Public License (GPL). Mike Milinkovich, of the Eclipse Foundation commented that moving to the GPL would be considered when version 3 of the GPL was released.
According to Lee Nackman, Chief Technology Officer of IBM's Rational division at that time and later head of Rational software development and support, the name "Eclipse" was chosen to target Microsoft's Visual Studio product, and not Sun Microsystems. Ironically, Nackman is now himself a Microsoft employee.
Since 2006, the Eclipse Foundation has coordinated an annual Simultaneous Release. Each release includes the Eclipse Platform as well as a number of other Eclipse projects. The purpose is to provide a distribution of Eclipse software with static features and versions. Ostensibly, this simplifies deployment and maintenance for enterprise systems, and others may simply find it convenient. So far, each Simultaneous Release has occurred at the end of June.
|Eclipse 3.0||28 June 2004||3.0|
|Eclipse 3.1||28 June 2005||3.1|
|Callisto||30 June 2006||3.2||Callisto projects|
|Europa||29 June 2007||3.3||Europa projects|
|Ganymede||25 June 2008||3.4||Ganymede projects|
|Galileo||24 June 2009||3.5||Galileo projects|
|Helios||23 June 2010||3.6||Helios projects|