Eclipse Project
DRAFT 2.2 Plan

This document is obsolete. The 2.2 release has been renamed the 3.0 release (3.0 plan).

Last revised Friday, December 20, 2002 ( marks interesting changes over the 2.1 plan)

    Please send comments about this draft plan to the developer mailing list.

This document lays out the feature and API set for the next feature release of Eclipse, designated release 2.2.

Plans do not materialize out of nowhere, nor are they entirely static. To ensure the planning process is transparent and open to the entire Eclipse community, we (the Eclipse PMC) post plans in an embryonic form and revise them throughout the release cycle.

The first part of the plan deals with the important matters of release deliverables, release milestones, target operating environments, and release-to-release compatibility. These are all things that need to be clear for any release, even if no features were to change. 

The remainder of the plan consists of plan items for the various Eclipse subprojects. Each plan item covers a feature or API that is to be added to Eclipse, or some aspect of Eclipse that is to be improved. Each plan item has a title and a concise summary (usually a single paragraph) that explains the work item at a suitably high enough level so that everyone can readily understand what the work item is without having to understand the nitty-gritty details (which can be hashed out elsewhere). 

Not all plan items represent the same amount of work; some may be quite large, others, quite small. Some plan items may involve work that is localized to a single Platform component; others may involve coordinated changes to several components; other may pervade the entire Platform.

With the previous release as the starting point, this is the plan for how we will enhance and improve it. Fixing bugs, improving test coverage, documentation, examples, performance, usability, etc. are considered routine ongoing maintenance activities and are not included in this plan unless they would also involve a significant change to the API or feature set, or involve a significant amount of work. All interesting feature work is accounted for in this plan.

The current status of each plan item is noted:

Release deliverables

The release deliverables have the same form as previous releases, namely:

Release milestones

Release milestone occurring at roughly 5 week intervals exist to facilitate coarse-grained planning and staging. Assuming 2.2 development commences on April 1, 2003, the milestones for 2003 are:

(Note that the two mid-summer milestones are extended by two weeks each to allow for roughly half the development team to be away on vacation.)

Our target is to complete 2.2 early 1Q2004. All release deliverables will be available for download as soon as the release has been tested and validated in the target operating configurations listed below.

Target Operating Environments

In order to remain current, each Eclipse release targets reasonably current versions of the underlying operating environments.

Most of the Eclipse SDK is "pure" Java™ code and has no direct dependence on the underlying operating system. The chief dependence is therefore on the Java 2 Platform itself. The 2.2 release of the Eclipse Project is written and compiled against version 1.4 of the Java 2 Platform APIs, and targeted to run on version 1.4 of the Java 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition.

Eclipse SDK 2.2 will be tested and validated on the following Java 2 Platform implementations:

Operating system Processor architecture Java 2 Platforms
Microsoft® Windows® Intel x86 Sun Java 2 SDK, Standard Edition, version 1.4 for Microsoft Windows [exact version TBD]
IBM 32-bit SDK for Windows, Java 2 Technology Edition, version 1.4 [exact version TBD]
Linux Intel x86 Sun Java 2 SDK, Standard Edition, version 1.4 for Linux x86 [exact version TBD]
IBM Developer Kit for Linux, Java 2 Technology Edition, version 1.4 [exact version TBD]
Sun Solaris SPARC Sun Java 2 SDK, Standard Edition, version 1.4 for Solaris SPARC [exact version TBD]
HP HP-UX hp9000 PA-RISC HP-UX SDK for the Java 2 platform, version 1.4 for hp9000 PA-RISC [exact version TBD]
IBM® AIX PowerPC IBM Developer Kit for AIX, Java 2 Technology Edition, version 1.4 [exact version TBD]
Apple® Mac® OS PowerPC Java 2 Standard Edition 1.4 for Mac OS X [exact version TBD]
QNX® Neutrino® RTOS Intel x86 IBM J9 VM for QNX [exact version TBD]

The following table describes the combinations of operating system and Java 2 Platform used when testing the Eclipse SDK configurations. The status column indicates the level of testing: "Primary" means a full tested configuration; "Secondary" means a configuration which is only lightly tested; "Untested" means a configuration that has received no testing, but which should work; "As-is" means a configuration that has received no testing, and which may or may not work. The "As-is" designation is used for operating environments nearing the end of their supported life; bugs that show up only in "As-is" configurations of Eclipse are unlikely to get fixed.

Window system Java 2 Platform
(see above table)
Operating Environment Testing Status
Win32 Windows on Intel x86 Windows XP Primary
Windows 2000 Secondary
Windows ME Untested
Windows 98SE As-is
Windows NT As-is

Linux on Intel x86


RedHat Linux x86 [version TBD] Primary
SuSE Linux x86 [version TBD] Primary
Other Linux [version TBD] Untested
Solaris on SPARC  Sun Solaris SPARC [version TBD] Primary
HP-UX on hp9000 PA-RISC HP-UX hp9000 [version TBD] Primary
AIX on PowerPC IBM AIX on PowerPC [version TBD] Primary
GTK Linux on Intel x86
RedHat Linux x86 [version TBD] Primary
SuSE Linux x86 [version TBD] Primary
Other Linux [version TBD] Untested
Carbon Mac OS X on PowerPC Mac OS X [version TBD] Primary
Photon® IBM J9 VM for QNX QNX Neutrino RTOS [version TBD] Primary


The Eclipse Platform is designed as the basis for internationalized products. The user interface elements provided by the Eclipse SDK components, including dialogs and error messages, are externalized. The English strings are provided as the default resource bundles.

Latin-1 locales are supported by the Eclipse SDK on all of the above operating environments; DBCS locales are supported by the Eclipse SDK on the Windows, GTK, and Motif window systems; BIDI locales are supported by the Eclipse SDK only on Windows operating environments.

The Eclipse SDK supports GB 18030, the new Chinese code page standard, on Windows 2000 and XP only. Note that GB 18030 also requires locale and character encoding support from the Java 2 Runtime Environment version 1.4.

German and Japanese locales have been tested.

BIDI support

The Eclipse SDK is a development environment targeted at technical professionals - not an end user application. However, the Eclipse SDK tools will permit technical professionals who are working in English to build Hebrew/Arabic end user Java programs which are themselves not based on the Eclipse SDK. The BIDI support in the Eclipse SDK allows a Java programmer to work with BIDI strings, code comments, etc. but the Eclipse SDK itself is not designed to be localized for BIDI locales and its widget orientation can not be changed.

IMPORTANT: The above BIDI support is available only on Windows platforms.

Compatibility with Previous Releases

Eclipse 2.2 will be upwards compatible with Eclipse 2.0 and 2.1.

Compatibility of Release 2.2 with 2.0 and 2.1

Eclipse SDK 2.2 will be upwards compatible with Eclipse SDK 2.0 and 2.1 to the greatest extent possible. We anticipate a small number of areas where slavishly maintaining compatibility would not be in the best interests of the Platform or its clients. All such exceptions will be noted in the 2.2 release notes so that clients can assess the impact of these changes on their plug-ins and products.

API Contract Compatibility: Eclipse SDK 2.2 will be upwards contract-compatible with Eclipse SDK 2.0 and 2.1 unless noted. This means that programs in full compliance with contracts specified in Eclipse SDK 2.0 or 2.1 APIs will automatically be in full compliance with Eclipse SDK 2.2 APIs. (API is construed broadly to include such things as plug-in extension points.) Downward contract compatibility is not supported. There is no guarantee that compliance with Eclipse SDK 2.2 APIs would ensure compliance with Eclipse SDK 2.0 or 2.1 APIs. Refer to Evolving Java-based APIs for a discussion of the kinds of API changes that maintain contract compatibility.

Binary (plug-in) Compatibility: Eclipse SDK 2.2 will be upwards binary-compatible with Eclipse SDK 2.0 and 2.1 unless noted. This means that plug-ins built for Eclipse SDK 2.0 or 2.1 will continue to work correctly in Eclipse SDK 2.2 without change. Downward plug-in compatibility is not supported. Plug-ins for Eclipse SDK 2.2 are unlikely to be usable in Eclipse SDK 2.0 or 2.1. Plug-ins with hard-coded references in their plug-in manifest file to 2.0 or 2.1 versions of prerequisite Eclipse Project plug-ins will work in 2.2 provided the version match rule is "greaterOrEqual" or "compatible" (the default); references using "perfect" or "equivalent" match rules will be broken. Refer to Evolving Java-based APIs for a discussion of the kinds of API changes that maintain binary compatibility.

Source Compatibility: Eclipse SDK 2.2 will be upwards source-compatible with Eclipse SDK 2.0 or 2.1 unless noted. This means that source files written to use Eclipse SDK 2.0 or 2.1 APIs can be successfully compiled and run against Eclipse SDK 2.2 APIs. Since source incompatibilities are easy to deal with, maintaining source compatibility is considered much less important than maintaining contract and binary compatibility. Downward source compatibility is not supported. If source files use new Eclipse SDK APIs, they will not be usable with an earlier version of the Eclipse SDK.

Workspace Compatibility: Eclipse SDK 2.2 will be upwards workspace-compatible with Eclipse SDK 2.0 or 2.1 unless noted. This means that workspaces and projects created with Eclipse SDK 2.0 or 2.1 can be successfully opened by Eclipse SDK 2.2 and upgraded to a 2.2 workspace. This includes both hidden metadata, which is localized to a particular workspace, as well as metadata files found within a workspace project (e.g., the .project file), which may propagate between workspaces via file copying or team repositories. Individual plug-ins developed for Eclipse SDK 2.2 should provide similar upwards compatibility for their hidden and visible workspace metadata created by earlier versions; 2.2 plug-in developers are responsible for ensuring that their plug-ins recognize 2.2, 2.1, and 2.0 metadata and process it appropriately. User interface session state may be discarded when a workspace is upgraded. Downward workspace compatibility is not supported. A workspace created (or opened) by Eclipse SDK 2.2 will be unusable with an earlier version of Eclipse SDK. Visible metadata files created (or overwritten) by Eclipse SDK 2.2 will generally be unusable with earlier versions of Eclipse SDK.  

Non-compliant usage of API's: All non-API methods and classes, and certainly everything in a package with "internal" in its name, are considered implementation details which may vary between operating environment and are subject to change without notice. Client plug-ins that directly depend on anything other than what is specified in the Eclipse SDK API are inherently unsupportable and receive no guarantees about compatibility within a single release much less with an earlier releases. Refer to How to Use the Eclipse API for information about how to write compliant plug-ins.

Eclipse Project Subprojects

The Eclipse Project consists of 3 subprojects. Each subproject is covered in its own section:
Eclipse Platform
JDT - Java development tools
PDE - Plug-in development environment

For each subproject, the items listed reflect new features of the Eclipse Platform, or areas where existing features will be significantly reworked. Each item indicates the components affected by that work item (many items involve coordinated changes to several components).

Eclipse Platform subproject

The Eclipse Platform provides the most fundamental building blocks. The following items reflect new features of the Eclipse Platform, or areas where existing features will be significantly reworked.

Committed Items (Eclipse Platform subproject)

None at this time.

Proposed Items (Eclipse Platform subproject)

(2.1 deferred item) Add cheat sheets.  A cheat sheet is an instance of a simple kind of workflow support used to help the user carry out a sequence of steps. For example, "create and deploy a plug-in" is a multi-step process that could be made easier to follow if there was a guide, similar to a recipe that would track the user's progress and provide both descriptive text that explains the steps involved and integration with Eclipse to automate the process. The Welcome Page editor is a simple example of a cheat sheet. Provide a standard API for creating cheat sheets. [Platform UI]

(2.1 deferred item) Add table of contents support to wizards. Extend the workbench wizard framework to allow Eclipse wizard developers to provide much more substantial and significant user feedback. [Platform UI]

(2.1 deferred item) Support floating toolbars and views. Allow the user to customize the workbench by creating floating toolbars and views. [Platform UI]

(2.1 deferred item) Allow editors to open files outside workspace. A common request is to be able to open a file that is not part of the workspace using Eclipse. In addition, applications would like to provide file extension associations so that double-clicking on a file in the OS desktop would open the associated Eclipse editor. The operations and capabilities available on these "outside of the workspace" files would need to be defined. [Platform UI]

(2.1 deferred item) Improve serviceability. Progress was made at improving serviceability in 2.0; however, additional improvements are needed, particularly in dealing with error conditions and reporting them in an appropriate manner. [Platform Core, SWT, Platform UI]

(2.1 deferred item) Improve file encoding support. Eclipse 2.0 and 2.1 uses a single global file encoding setting for reading and writing files in the workspace. This is problematic; for example, when Java source files in the workspace use OS default file encoding while XML files in the workspace use UTF-8 file encoding. The Platform should support non-uniform file encodings. (Ref: bug 5399) [Platform Core, Platform UI, Text, Search, Compare, JDT UI, JDT Core]

(2.1 deferred item) Improve SWT support for right-to-left languages. Allow the appropriate widget orientation for right-to-left languages. [SWT]

( new) Display HTML in a widget. In Eclipse 2.0 and 2.1, the only supported option for rendering HTML in the workbench is to use OLE to link to IE. This support is Windows only; there is no such option in other operating environments. Even on Windows, this only works for IE and not other browsers. There are already several Eclipse components that could benefit from HTML display functionality in a widget: welcome pages; update manager update site overview; hovers that show Javadoc. The Platform should provide a portable way to display HTML in a widget and support it in all operating environments. [Platform UI]

( new) Support automation of common tasks. To make it easier for users to automate common and repetitive tasks, the user should have a simple way of recording the sequence of actions as they perform them. The recording can be edited, saved persistently, and played back under similar circumstances in the same or later session, or possibly another workspace. [Platform UI, Platform Core, Platform Text, JDT Core, JDT UI, PDE]

( new) Reduce workbench clutter. Despite efforts to ensure UI scalability with a large bases of available tools, the Eclipse workbench still intimidates many users with overly long menus and wide toolbars. This problem is acute in large Eclipse-based products (e.g., IBM WebSphere Application Developer). The Platform should provide additional ways for controlling workbench clutter, such as further menu and toolbar customizability, distinguishing between novice and advanced functions, supporting different developer roles, and more specific object contributions for particular file types. [Platform UI, Platform Debug, JDT UI]

( new) Allow plug-in deactivation. In order to scale to a large number of plug-ins, Eclipse does not activate a plug-in until its code is actually needed. However, once activated a plug-in remains active for the remainder of the session. Unfortunately, this means that an active plug-in will occupy memory space for its code and objects even if it is only used occasionally. Many users have sessions lasting days or weeks, and this bloat taxes processor memory and JVM performance. The analogy is a long play where the actors enter the stage on cue, but cannot leave it until the play is over. The Eclipse Platform should support plug-ins that can be safely deactivated when the user needs to recover valuable memory space. Another alternative is to provide a way to quietly shutdown and restart the Platform. [Platform Core, Platform UI]

( new) Support background activities. In Eclipse 2.0 and 2.1, certain operations like builds and searches always run synchronously and block the user at the UI from doing work until the build has completed. The Eclipse Platform should support operations running asynchronously in the background, so that the user is not forced to be entirely idle while long-running operations are in progress. [Platform UI, Platform Core, Platform Text, JDT Core, JDT UI, PDE]

( new) Support workspace checkpoint and rollback. Sometimes a set of resource changes must be explored to see if they are possible or worthwhile. When the changes do not pan out, there needs to be a way to roll back the workspace to the prior state. Eclipse should support long workspace transactions with the ability to checkpoint and rollback. The facility should be available to users and programmatically (e.g., JDT refactoring). [Platform UI, Platform Core, JDT Core, JDT UI]

( new) Add capabilities. In Eclipse 2.0 we did some early work on a mechanism called "capabilities" to allow users to dynamically configure project natures. The Eclipse Platform should expose this mechanism to users. [Platform UI, JDT UI, PDE]

( expanded 2.1 PDE deferred item) Add project templates. Eclipse should provide a streamlined way to create projects using templates contributed by plug-ins. These project templates would be able to populate the projects with stock content so that projects don't start off completely empty. PDE's current mechanism should be generalized, pushed down into the Platform, and put to good use by JDT. [Platform UI, JDT UI, PDE UI]

( new) Provide a general purpose navigator. The Eclipse Navigator view presents a view of resources in the workspace. The Eclipse Platform should provide a more flexible, general purpose, extensible navigator infrastructure that would make it possible to show other objects as well (like an the extended physical view provided by Windows Explorer). [Platform UI, JDT UI]

( new) Improve workspace synchronization with file system. A file resource in the workspace gets out of sync when the underlying file in the file system is created, deleted, or rewritten outside of Eclipse. File resources usually remains out of sync until the user explicitly hits Refresh. The Eclipse Platform should provide ways to keep the in-memory representation in sync with the file system; for example, by hooking OS file system callbacks where available, and by polling for file system changes in a background thread. [Platform Core, Platform UI]

( new) Provide improved table and table tree widgets. Eclipse customers are finding that the existing table and table tree custom SWT widgets lacks required functionality, exhibit undesirable layout and resizing behavior, and are generally ill-suited for presenting large data models. Their largely unsuccessful attempts to define their own custom table tree widget have shown it to be a very challenging task requiring expert-level knowledge of SWT. The Eclipse Platform team will work with the community to define a new custom table and table tree widgets that will meet their needs. [SWT, Platform UI]

( new) Improve structure of existing documentation. The Eclipse help books are currently black boxes. There is no easy way to insert additional material into an existing Eclipse book, such as adding a section describing a new tool. And there is no way to incorporate portions of the Eclipse books into some other book. The Eclipse Platform help books should be restructured in a more modular manner by making better use of existing help system capabilities. [Platform, JDT, PDE, Platform Help]

( new) Provide user preferences. It should be possible to store user preferences that are not specific to a workspace separate from the workspace, so that they can be used in any workspace. [Platform Core, Platform UI]

( new) Evolve the Eclipse user experience. The current Eclipse GUI is solidly grounded in traditional opaque, rectangular windows. Recent advances in UI design improve the user experience with such things as transparent overlays and associating sounds with significant events. Eclipse 2.2 should have a new look that makes more effective use of the capabilities of current desktop computers. [Platform UI, JDT UI, Debug UI]

( new) Enable Eclipse to be used as a general purpose application framework. Eclipse was designed as a universal tool integration platform. However, many facets and components of Eclipse are not particularly specific to IDEs and would make equal sense in non-IDE applications (e.g., window-based GUI, plug-ins, help system, update manager). The Eclipse Platform should factor out and segregate IDE-specific facilities (e.g., everything having to do with workspace resources) so that a subset of it can be used as a general purpose application framework. [Platform Core, Platform UI]

( new) Improve action contributions. The current action contribution story is diverse and complex, and the interactions between key bindings and retargetable actions, unclear. Eclipse should unify the action contribution support, provide simplified support for key bindings, and clarify the interactions between key bindings and retargetable actions. Eclipse should also support new types of actions contributions, such as combo boxes in toolbars, and enable additional UI customization. [Platform UI]

( new) Add a "tips & tricks" facility. Eclipse should provide an open, flexible mechanism for offering suggestions and tips to the user for the various tools available and active in the IDE. [Platform UI]

Deferred Items (Eclipse Platform subproject)

None at this time.

Rejected Items (Eclipse Platform subproject)

None at this time.

(End of items for Eclipse Platform subproject.)

Java development tools (JDT) subproject

Java development tools (JDT) implements a Java IDE based on the Eclipse Platform. The following work items reflect new features of JDT, or areas where existing features will be significantly reworked.

Committed Items (Eclipse JDT subproject)

None at this time.

Proposed Items (Eclipse JDT subproject)

( new) Add early support for J2SE 1.5 features. The next feature release of J2SE is version 1.5 ("Tiger"), targeted to ship in the first half of 2004. While the contents of this release are still under discussion (JSR-176), this release is expected to contain extensions to the Java language, including generic types (JSR-014), enumerations, autoboxing, enhanced for loops, static imports (all JSR-201), metadata facility (JSR-175), and compiler APIs (JSR-199). Supporting these new language and compiler features will require major changes to the Eclipse Java compiler, JDT Core APIs, and JDT UI. Although Eclipse 2.2 will likely ship before J2SE 1.5 does, Eclipse should contain early support for J2SE 1.5 features wherever possible [JDT Core, JDT UI, JDT Debug]

( new) Improve support for Java-like source files. JSP and JSQL are two instances of languages that embed passages of Java language code. Eclipse should provide better support for Java-like source files. For instance, outline views should be able to show the hierarchy of Java elements; it should be possible to index these files so that Java search can find the Java declarations and references within; it should be possible to use Java code assist on the Java passages; refactoring should be able to take these files into account; the debugger should be able to step through the Java passages (JSR-045); error highlighting should be supported across sections; etc. [JDT Core, JDT UI, JDT Debug]

( new) Support Java references from non-Java files. References to Java elements in particular classes can show up in specific kinds of non-Java files, such as plug-in manifest files (plugin.xml). These references should also participate in Java operations like search, move, rename, and other refactoring operations. JDT will surface APIs that enable other plug-ins to contribute to and participate in these operations. [JDT Core, JDT UI, JDT Debug]

( new) Harmonize Java source manipulation. The Java model is currently implemented in terms of JDOM, an early precursor of the AST facility added in 2.0. JDT will move to an AST- based implementation of the Java model, and deprecate JDOM. [JDT Core]

( new) Present logical view of Java objects in debugger. The current debugger always presents the internal structure of Java objects. For instances of standard data structures like java.util.HashMap, the Java debugger should be able to present a higher level logical view of the object (i.e., to show it as a table of key-to value mappings). [JDT Debug]

( new) Provide API for refactoring. JDT should allow other plug-ins to contribute specialized refactoring operations, and provide the infrastructure to make it possible for them to do so. [JDT Core, JDT UI]

Deferred Items (Eclipse JDT subproject)

None at this time.

Rejected Items (Eclipse JDT subproject)

None at this time.

(End of items for Eclipse JDT subproject.)

Plug-in development environment (PDE) subproject

The plug-in development environment (PDE) consists of tools for developing plug-ins for the Eclipse Platform. The following work items reflect new features of PDE, or areas where existing features will be significantly reworked.

Committed Items (Eclipse PDE subproject)

None at this time.

Proposed Items (Eclipse PDE subproject)

( new) Help developers tune plug-in performance. Observing and measuring the dynamic behavior of a plug-in is key to developing plug-ins that perform well. PDE visualizations should help the developer understand the dynamic behavior of their running plug-in; e.g., reason for plug-in activation, elapse time to start up, dependent plug-ins activated, etc.

( new) Support context-sensitive help for plug-ins. All plug-in should provide context-sensitive (F1) help for their UI components. However, implementing F1 support is somewhat cumbersome and error prone. PDE should provide additional support in this area, such as assigning help contexts to UI elements, updating corresponding XML files, and checking consistency of context ids.

Deferred Items (Eclipse PDE subproject)

None at this time.

Rejected Items (Eclipse PDE subproject)

None at this time.

(End of items for Eclipse PDE subproject.)