Eclipse: Not just for Java

I had originally envisioned the title of this posting including the word “anymore” at the end. However, that would be grossly inaccurate since Eclipse has not been just for Java for some time.

I attended a couple of the morning sessions for the CDT Contributor Summit, hosted by QNX, here in beautiful Ottawa. Curiously, you have to make your way down streets named after local bajillionaires (Michael Copeland Drive and Terence Matthews Drive) to get to the QNX office. But I digress.

I arrived in my usual form: late. The room was packed (standing room only) with people from all around the world. There were several folks from Scandinavia, Europe and North America. I’m sure that there were other geographies represented, but I didn’t have the opportunity to pry. In short, there were a lot of people, many of whom came a long way, who have an interest in enabling Eclipse to develop their C/C++ applications.

In the opening session, our illustrious leader Mike Milinkovich delivered a riveting talk welcoming the attendees. I learned a few things during the talk. I was a little surprised to learn that CDT has been around for a while. Mike described it as a pending “overnight sensation” that’s been three years in the making.

That’s right, CDT has been around for a long time. Almost as long as Eclipse itself; it’s one of the oldest Eclipse projects and has a very vibrant community built up around it. I know that I’ve been aware of its existence for a while, but since I’ve never actually used it, I guess that it kind of snuck up on me. Being firmly entrenched in the Java world, I’ve never used C/C++ for anything more than the occasional native code.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the entire conference. I did sit through a couple of talks on the work being done on debugging and some the challenges facing the team. It was clear to me that I was woefully out of my comfort zone, but it was equally clear that the folks in the room were not. I have a good feeling that some great stuff will be coming from this team. A social event is planned for tomorrow evening, so I’m planning to drop in and meet a few of the folks involved.

Anyway, it’s pretty clear that Eclipse has extended its reach beyond the Java language. The list is getting pretty long: Java, C/C++, Fortran, PHP, Ruby, ObjectAda, … As Ed says,”are there any languages that aren’t supported by Eclipse?” The list is getting shorter.

Now, if somebody would just build Smalltalk integration…

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6 Responses to Eclipse: Not just for Java

  1. Dominique Boucher says:

    You forgot to mention a very nice plug-in for Scheme programming: 😉

  2. Wayne says:

    Very cool.

  3. James Robertson says:

    How would you get Smalltalk integration without an actual Smalltalk image? Smalltalk development is all about live objects.

  4. Wayne says:

    What’s stopping us from having a Smalltalk image? The entire Eclipse environment is a huge collection of live objects…

  5. James Robertson says:

    The “Live Objects” in Eclipse are not live in the same way as they are in Smalltalk. For one thing, there’s no such thing as a snapshot. For another, you can’t grab any object and change the definition. It’s just not the same thing.

  6. Wayne says:

    Fair enough. However, just because it isn’t done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It might be possible, for example, to modify a current Smalltalk implementation with hooks that allow an Eclipse-based UI to interact with the image. It doesn’t seem like too big a stretch to build the ability to edit class definitions and methods. Even making things like inspectors and the transcript shouldn’t be too hard.Of course, this is development integration, not runtime integration. Making it possible to create Eclipse plug-ins is a bigger problem…

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