Eclipse + mobile = PULSAR

Open source foundations are interesting organisms… they tend to blossom and conference in Autumn. In the last 3 weeks Apache, Eclipse and Symbian have all held their major yearly conferences, namely ‘con , summit Europe and Exhibition and Exchange. Leaving any open source follower with no option but to only taste one flavour of open source.

So… no Eclipse Summit for me this year, none of the Stammtisch fun, no occasion to hear and see Microsoft announcing support for Eclipse development in Azure, making a unprecedented move in open source and non .NET land.

No Eclipse Summit but  I had to make up for it by publishing our thoughts following a discussion with Ian Skerrett, Director of Marketing at Eclipse Foundation while at CTIA Fall around Eclipse’s initiatives in the mobile space.

Talking about Eclipse in mobile is rather paradoxical.  You can’t go to a proper mobile developer event without seeing someone flash it at a time (OK maybe at an iPhone or a Qt conference), when you see it you’re pretty happy “cause there’s gonna be code” , but you won’t spend much time talking about it… The uncomfortable friend in a way.

But the fact is that today Eclipse is everywhere in the new “mobile development” paradigm, from the hard core embedded engineers to the web kids.  Rare are the mobile platforms that cannot be targeted coding within Eclipse : Java, Flash, iPhone, Android, Qt, Palm , Blackberry, widgets … you name it! So isn’t it time that Eclipse becomes a bit more of a comfortable friend in the mobile discussion?

I have been saying so for a while (acknowledging my bias), and here is why… Traditionally mobile tools have focused on two strategies, either be an integral part of the “mobile platform” (aka tools + SDK + OS + phone = 1 vendor) or attack fragmentation (aka limit the fragmentation of the competing platforms 1 tool vendor = multiple device vendors). The results of this… “surprise surprise” is that the mobile tools space looks more fragmented than the mobile platform space. Furthermore a majority of the tools have focused on integration of the tool chain(s) over the years rather than focusing on simplifying and integrating the various tasks that constitute the development process (re-factoring, unit testing, instrumentation, performance management, debugging).  As a consequence.. most developers are stuck with poorly scalable tools and tool vendors have little to no interest in investing as their ability to target a large enough numbers of developer is restricted.

What Eclipse meant originally was simple. For tools vendors, open source code  means tools are cheaper to produce as they can focus on differentiators. For developers life is simpler, download vanilla Eclipse from then go shopping for ten different plugins I need to integrate in my company’s practice, to work on a specific project, to fit my personal habits! Easy!! But not so true in mobile as platform vendors continued to take the approach of bundling the whole platform, branching bits and bobs and basically creating silos of their own.

PulsarBut with open source rhyming with mobile these days, we were bound to see the industry tackling the issue! So here comes Pulsar!

  • A group of Eclipse member companies including Nokia, Motorola, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson, Ericsson committed to working on tools integration and
  • A flexible Eclipse distribution that allows mobile developers an easy access to a multi-vendor development environment, easy!

Pulsar has now been in existence for 6 months and so far has been mainly focused on Java development, but the future looks bright for Pulsar!

  • Mobile web development is definitely on the roadmap reflecting the number of solutions in the market today phonegap, BONDI, Palm. All showing Eclipse’s strength in css, php and javascript
  • Android
  • Symbian and Qt

So we look forward to a follow up discussion with Ian on the subject!

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1 Response to “Eclipse + mobile = PULSAR”

  1. 1 thibaut

    Feel free to give us your views on Pulsar and the what you would like Eclipse to stand for in the mobile world.

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