Sunday, March 23, 2008

EclipseCon 2008 BOFs

So, I attended two BOFs last Wednesday night at EclipseCon:
  • Eclipse 4 BOF: Just imagine yourself going to a gym like X-Sport Fitness, which offers free access to Internet machines (like the one I'm now using,) and while you're doing your regular blogging after exercise, you suddenly get a flash of insight and discover the solution to a problem that have been nagging you for a while in a software project! Wouldn't it be great if you could use one of those Internet machines to log into your code repository, open some source code in a cool flashy Ajax color-coded editor, and start cranking away at the solution? That is exactly what the Eclipse 4 prototype demo we saw was all about: a web version of Eclipse that you can setup on a web server so that you can edit your source files remotely from wherever you are without needing to use a VPN connection or a pre-setup laptop. Genius!

  • User-interface and Usability BOF: It started with complaints about RCP not offering enough freedom in customizing user-interfaces. After some discussion, the conclusion was that while you can customize the RCP look if you really work hard at it, it would be nicer if there were easier ways to customize the RCP look and more documentation on the Presentation API. Next, someone mentioned an issue with bringing attention to data changes when there is so much data that not all of it fits on the screen. Several solutions were proposed, which I won't go over here. The issue with Eclipse being overwhelmingly difficult to use for beginners was raised, with a mention of the Guild project for students (simpler Eclipse) and the possiblity of reviving its ideas for Eclipse 3.3. Finally, the BOF was concluded with a contrast of Views and Editors, with some people wanting to eliminate the difference, and Kevin McGuire emphasizing the reasons for the differences, such as ensuring that contributions yield a consistent UI, and not a mish-mash of different UI paradigms.
EclipseCon 2008 was certainly very entertaining and informational. I'm looking forward to the future of the Eclipse platform.


KetanPadegaonkar said...

As a testing maniac, I'm looking forward to the testability of the platform, SWT in general. A lot of new functionality without testability does not make much sense :(

I'm having to live with a lot of workarounds due to a lot of limitations of the platform, SWT in particular.

nickb said...

... edit your source files remotely from wherever you are without needing to use a VPN connection or a pre-setup laptop.

Have you ever used VNC to remotely take over your home machine while away? It even works via a java applet in a browser on port 5900 (or higher), if you're on a machine on which you can't install a VNC client (eg., RealVNC on Windows or krdc on linux).

Granted, it's not as lightweight as a socket connection for just the remote data w/ the local machine handling all the UI, but e4 is still two years away, and VNC is here now.

Andy Maleh said...

I've used VNC at work to remotely pair-program with developers who live out of town. I have not heard of the VNC Java applet though; sounds pretty useful. Not sure if the Internet machines at X-Sport have Java on them though. :)

nickb said...

If they run a recent XP service pack or Vista, they probably have a Sun 5.0 or 6.0 JRE installed. If you're lucky enough to have Linux on them, then they might also come with a Sun JRE, or at least a blackdown or gcj JRE.

Using the applet is easy. For connecting to a windows machine, access it as; for linux boxes, the display maps to the port number, so :1 is on 5901, :2 is on 5902, etc. If you're running the VNC service, you get the http port too, right out of the box.