Open Source in 2017
It is that time of year again where we attempt to look into the future and make some predictions. I'm not crazy enough to predict specific events or outcomes, but I do have some thoughts on some general trends and directions for the Eclipse open source community. So here goes nothing...
Trends and Directions
2017 is going to be the year that language tools go server-side. The Language Server Protocol is enabling a whole new generation of development environments. In my experience it is unprecedented to see a new technology get adopted as quickly within the Eclipse community, and by multiple projects, as LSP. The Eclipse Che project announced support for it back in June. The Eclipse Orion project is using it for Java support, based on the new JDT Language Server project that provides an LSP implementation built on top of the Eclipse Java development tools. The Eclipse LSP4J project provides a full Java implementation of the protocol, the Eclipse LSP4E project provides the glue code to plug LSPs into the IDE, and the new Generic Editor in the Eclipse Platform makes it easier to extend the desktop IDE to support new languages. Basically, all of these new initiatives have come into being since June 2016. It has been fascinating to watch the community rally around this new approach to IDE language enablement.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things will continue to be a significant growth area for the Eclipse community. Since its inception, the Eclipse IoT working group has been quietly working on building open source building blocks for IoT. In 2016 the group changed from creating building blocks to focusing on the three platforms needed for IoT solutions. In particular, Eclipse IoT is the only community-led effort to create a complete cloud platform for the Internet of Things. New projects like Eclipse Hono and Eclipse Kapua are creating open source cloud infrastructure that will enable a whole new class of solutions. In particular, Eclipse IoT is particularly well positioned to play a role in the industrial application of the IoT.
Open Source in Industry
Eclipse technology will continue to be an important player in the industrial adoption of open source. Open source was first adopted by software vendors. More recently it has become an important part of the technology portfolio strategy for enterprises and industrials. We have numerous initiatives that are helping to further this trend. To mention just a couple, PolarSys is spurring the adoption of open source tools like Eclipse Papyrus and Polarsys Capella for embedded systems. The openPASS working group is bringing together companies like Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW to collaborate on the simulating traffic situations to predict the real-world effectiveness of advanced driver assistance systems or automated driving functions. Open source techniques for open collaboration are changing the face of pretty much every industry. Open source software really is eating the world.
Over the past couple of years, we have seen a significant diversification in the makeup of the Eclipse community in both projects and membership. Five years ago, the vast majority of our projects and membership were focused on desktop developer tools, written in Java, and using the Eclipse plug-in model. Today we have 28 projects in IoT, and 17 in our LocationTech geospatial community, none of which are tools. The Eclipse OMR project is building cross-platform language runtimes. Eclipse MicroProfile is bringing us into the realm of Java microservices. This trend has also been reflected in our membership. Almost all of the growth we have experienced over the past few years has been related to our new technology areas. This is one of my favorite trends, as there is nothing I personally enjoy more than watching the Eclipse community organically grow into entirely new technology areas.
Innovative Eclipse Communities
Those are a few trends that I expect to see for the Eclipse community in 2017. In addition to those, the Eclipse Foundation is continuing to be a wonderful place in which to grow community and to innovate. The Eclipse Science and the LocationTech working groups are not mentioned above as "new trends." Nor is the Eclipse Modeling community, or about twenty other cool groups under the Eclipse banner. But they are all continuing to be dynamic, innovative communities that are building exciting new technologies The Eclipse Way.
I am very much looking forward to 2017, and all that it will bring for the Eclipse community.