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Eclipse organization's browser-based Orion tool gets on-line hub

UPDATED – A JavaScript editor known as Orion uses the browser as the basis for building tools for web developers. While it is an Eclipse Foundation effort, it is said to represent a fully new code base. Now it is available via an online hub. IBM engineers have forged the first bits of Orion.

The Eclipse Foundation has announced access to a hosted beta version of its Orion project, an effort to create a Web-based platform for Web development. Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich said a new site known as has as its goal to enable interested developers to provide feedback on Orion.

“Orion uses the browser navigation as the way you navigate your code base,” Milinkovich said.

The Eclipse IDE and development backplane, which is coming up on its 10th  birthday, has become a mainstay in server-side development. But its use, admitted Milinkovich, has been much more limited in front-end Web development. Orion is a wholly new effort and a wholly new code base, not an “Eclipse in a browser,” he said. The software appeared earlier this year in the form of an editor for JavaScript, CSS and HTML.

In terms of AJAX frameworks, Orion “uses Dojo and some pieces of JQuery,” according Milinkovich, who added, “we are trying to stay as framework-agnostic as possible.”

Developers from IBM’s Ottawa Canada operations came up with the idea for Orion. In a presentation at this week’s EclipseCon 2011 in Santa Clara, CA, they said that they anticipate a growing number of what they call ”online IDEs.” Orion joins Palm Aries, Cloud9 IDE and others in this new development software category.

For Orion, IBM is contributing a seed, according to IBM developer Simon Kaegi. “What we’ve contributed is akin to an integration platform,” he said.

Developers of all sorts are already doing much of their work in the browser, IBM developer Boris Bokowski noted. Popular Web browser tools include bug trackers, build trackers, indexers and – of course – documentation software. “All these things happen in the browser,” he said.

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