EclipseCon 2014 Wrap Up

While I got a few moments here now that I’m home in Ottawa, I thought I’d jot down a few notes from last week’s EclipseCon. For me personally, it was the best ever. The diversity of discussions I had with so many talented people represent the diversity of my interests these days. I’m trying to build a great IDE for my platform’s customers and that goes beyond just the plug-ins we build for them, but to the entire ecosystem. We should be helping with all that because that value helps grow community and in the end our IDE gets better and my customers get happier and I get to work more on Eclipse :).

As soon as I checked into the hotel, I went up to the second floor where I was staying and looked out over the balcony by the elevator and a rush of memories flowed over me. I was at EclipseCon 2005 (mind you I’ve been to all 11 of them) which was held in that same hotel. There were ghosts here all week. I’ll never forget my first experience as a mentor for other projects when a number of groups interested in a Fortran IDE on Eclipse were trying to figure out how to work together and combine technologies. That’s where my friendship with the Parallel Tools team started and it was great to see Greg and Beth back again to relive those memories.

I was trying to figure out what the differences were back then to today. So many companies were scrambling to get their faces seen, joining the Eclipse board, starting top level projects, making product announcements. It was really different. The developers were there to get their projects known but they weren’t really the focal point. And I figure that’s it. EclipseCon is now a developers conference. It’s a place where the community gets to meet, and have a few beers together growing relationships, and to learn about what’s going on that might inspire. And I think that’s a perfectly good place to be. Yeah, the numbers are down a bit again, but I think the developers I talked to got way more out of it than we did back in 2005.

I have to admit that I started looking at JavaFX because it’s a shiny ball. I always seem to be chasing those. But there is a lot of interest in it’s capabilities in the Eclipse context. The CDT multi-core visualizer, for example, is a pretty complex visualization of the state of the dozens, if not hundreds, of cores in the chips these days. It’s all hand rolled SWT paint code with it’s own custom framework for drawing nodes and connectors. I have a feeling there are a lot of such visualizations that we could have in the IDE for representing data of all sorts. I think JavaFX can help there, but that needs to be validated. And if it does, that means we need the best architecture for the Eclipse IDE and JavaFX to make it work. I’ll blog more about that in the upcoming days. Talking with Tom Schindl and Steve Northover (who I’m so glad was there), I think we have some ideas. And, of course, it will require community support to pull it off and that’s the next challenge. To make sure we’re communicating the value.

I had a good chat with Gorkem Ercan from the Red Hat JBoss team. I got to know him when he was doing the Mobile Tools for Java back at Nokia. He’s now working on Apache Cordova tooling, which is good for us at QNX/BlackBerry since we support Cordova as one of our runtimes. I got to learn more about the type inferencing problem in JavaScript, i.e., how do you get content assist to return something useful. It’s a real hard problem and it was good to hear that they were talking with the Orion gang, who are also working hard at this problem. It was also good to see the VJET talk and they also seem to be working on that problem. Why we have two desktop JavaScript tooling projects in VJET and JSDT, I still don’t have an answer to, but it’s good to see that there are others out there who care about having good JavaScript tooling on the desktop.

And last but not least (for now), I had a few conversations with Lars Vogel over the week. He has done so much for the Eclipse community, it’s hard to measure and thank him enough. Everyone knows about his great tutorials on Eclipse development. We’ve all used them, or at least ran across them in Google searches. But what has me inspired is his drive to contribute to the Platform UI project and to solve all those problems we seem to always be complaining about. Why are we complaining and not putting that energy into contributing to make the Platform better. We all depend on it and have such a vested interest. We can’t and shouldn’t depend on others to do that for us. If Lars can drive through and work with the platform team and make change, well, I can to. And that’s what I intend to do. And thanks Lars for giving me that inspiration and I hope others catch it too.

Well, I’ll blog more as I dig into all these different areas. And I haven’t even mentioned the CDT summit we had on Monday and Tuesday. Great things coming there too. For now some sleep and some much needed family time. Then it’s back to work. EclipseCon has fuelled my passion and has given me hope that we can make the great Eclipse IDE even greater.

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