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Eclipse shows off its SOA, BPEL and PHP muscle

At this week's EclipseWorld 2006 conference, Eclipse's SOA Tools Platform and BPEL plug-in, both working projects, were put on display and its PHP IDE was announced for the fourth quarter.

Cambridge, Mass. – After two days full of tutorials and sessions covering many of the more than 65 projects running at the Eclipse Foundation, executive director Mike Milinkovich didn't bother to be bashful about the success of his development platform when he took the stage for his EclipseWorld 2006 keynote address.

If you build great APIs, people will come and use them.
Mike Milinkovich
Executive DirectorEclipse Foundation

"I think Eclipse has discovered, perhaps invented, the secret sauce for organizations that want to get together and develop open source," he said.

Rather that pursue a "utopian vision" of free software, he said Eclipse makes sure that it feeds into the competitive marketplace. It's hard to argue with the results and Milinkovich promised more wildfire growth in the future. He announced the first release of Eclipse's PHP integrated development environment would become available for download sometime in the final quarter of the year.

"Eclipse is here to support as many platforms and as many languages as we can find projects," he said. "The more we get with good ideas, the better it is for us."

He made no bones about Eclipse's goal of being a universal platform stretching across all languages, not just sticking to its Java roots. The far-reaching ambition of the foundation has been on display all week in sessions built around such hot topics as service-oriented architecture and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL).

Oisin Hurley, distinguished engineer at Iona Technologies Inc., led the session on the Eclipse SOA Tools Platform (STP) and he emphasized how difficult it was to identify the right set of tools to make up the platform. Much of it revolves around aggregating work already done in other Eclipse venues such as its Web Tools Project.

If successful, Hurley hopes by next summer Eclipse will have created a one-stop shop for basic SOA development.

"You'll get what you want without having to hunt and peck around dozens of other projects," he said.

STP has been broken down into five different subprojects:

  • Service creation – which will work through integration issues between different service creation methodologies, implementing functionality from JAX-WS and the Eclipse Web Standard Tools subproject.
  • Core models – which will implement the Service Component Architecture assembly model as a standard methodology for service creation.
  • SOA system – which will establish a deployment framework for Web services.
  • BPEL2Java – originally a subproject of the Eclipse Test and Performance Tools Platform, it will generate Java code from BPEL and create engines for local and distributed execution.
  • Business Process Modeling Notation, which is a standard maintained by the Object Management Group, the plan is to provide fully-executable business models capable of roundtrip engineering.

Hurley listed integration between the five different subprojects as the chief pursuit for STP in the coming months as well as creating a way of testing service assemblies. He added that STP needs to understand it's not doing this work in a vacuum.

"We need to be able to engage with [other SOA/Web services projects such as] Tuscany, Celtix, ServiceMix and XFire," he said.

Ultimately, provided the integration goes smoothly, Hurley envisions a straightforward and easy-to-use platform.

"What you don't want to bring home is a pile of detail about how each piece works," he said. "We'll have that documented, but you shouldn't have to drill down to that level to use it."

For more information
Check out our Eclipse Learning Guide

Check out our BPEL Learning Guide

Raghu Kodali, consulting project manager for Fusion middleware at Oracle Corp., led the packed BPEL session, showing how Eclipse is working on a BPEL plug-in with a design editor that will support the soon-to-be-ratified BPEL 2.0 specification.

He stressed the importance of workflow in a service-oriented IT landscape.

"Heterogeneous infrastructure is there and we have to be able to connect within that," he said.

Milinkovich expressed no doubt that Eclipse will be able to provide the basis for standard integration points through open source efforts, leaving vendors to chase after more complex functionality.

"If you build great APIs, people will come and use them," he said.

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