Eclipse conference offers ALM, rich-client technologies

The EclipseCon 2006 conference in California, this week will highlight Eclipse projects in ALM (application lifecycle management), as well as endeavors in rich-client technology, PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor), and VoIP.

EclipseCon is the annual technical conference of the Eclipse Foundation for open source tools. ALM projects being touted include the Compuware-led Corona and ALF (Application Lifecycle Framework), led by Serena Software. ALF addresses the issue of integration and communication between developer tools across the lifecycle; Corona enables Eclipse-based tools to integrate with ALF, according to Eclipse. Also known as the Tools Services Framework, Corona provides frameworks for collaboration among Eclipse clients.

Compuware is announcing creation of Corona. Serena is revealing partner support for ALF from companies such as AccuRev.

Initially, ALF was to take on tasks covered in both ALF and Corona, but Compuware's effort helps Eclipse achieve its ALM goals faster, said Kevin Parker, ALF evangelist at Serena.

"The part of the problem that Corona is solving is something that we were going to tackle in Phase 2, and Compuware volunteered to help us get there more quickly," Parker said.

Explaining the differences in the projects, Parker said ALF is about tools interoperability, whereas Corona provides data persistence between those tools. Compuware and Serena are collaborating in their ALM efforts, Parker said.

Compuware has its own spin.

"What Corona is trying to do is to bring a consistent development paradigm to the Eclipse ecosystem for both client and server," said Dennis O'Flynn, software architect at Compuware. ALF, meanwhile, is about making tools follow a certain process, he said.

Corona seeks to have vendors deploy server-side Eclipse plug-ins to enable workgroup collaboration and then allow tools integration across the application lifecycle, O'Flynn said. Corona allows Eclipse component providers to expose functionality via Web services, he said.

Eclipse also does not see conflict between ALF and Corona. "In my mind, they're complementary," said Ian Skerrett, director of marketing at Eclipse.

"The problem area that these two projects are addressing is really around infrastructure components for ALM," Skerrett said.

Eclipse is on the mark having separate ALM projects, said Carey Schwaber, an analyst at Forrester Research. "I think they do need to be two separate [projects]," she said. "There's clear synergies; there's no question."

Whereas ALF is about coarsely grained workflow integration and how tools interact with one another, Corona is centered on how code assets interrelate, such as how source code on a mainframe could connect with code on a distributed platform, Schwaber said. With Corona, developers using different client applications can share software assets using different tools, Schwaber said.

Other developments at the show center on the Eclipse RCP (Rich Client Platform).

"The goal of RCP is really to be this pervasive platform that ISVs and enterprises use to create end-user desktop applications," Skerrett said.

The Eclipse Enterprise Content Management for RCP Project, led by Nuxeo, is being unveiled on top of RCP. The project involves integrating applications with a content management system. It features version control and workflow all built on RCP.

Exadel will propose an Eclipse Enterprise Component Platform Project, extending RCP to server applications and enabling building of reusable component software.

The first release of the Sybase-led Eclipse Data Tools Platform Project is planned, focusing on frameworks and tools for building data-centric RCP applications. Code also is being released for the Eclipse Communications Framework, which is for building rich-client applications that use VOIP. Composent is leading this project.

Separate from RCP, the Eclipse PHP IDE project will be formally unveiled, led by Zend Technologies. "Basically, it takes Eclipse in the large PHP developer community," Skerrett said.

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