Wednesday, December 21, 2005

All aboard the Callisto release train

I've been doing a lot of press interviews this week, and everyone wants to know about Callisto - the code name for the joint release train containing Eclipse platform 3.2, WTP, TPTP, BIRT, and other projects slated to come out in late June 2006.

In some ways, there's nothing new here, except that a few dates moved and we agreed to a (modestly) less confusing nomenclature on milestone numbers, release candidates, etc. And put in place some processes to help projects get bug fixes from one another in a timely manner. So, no big deal.

In other ways, though, it's a huge deal: it helps users get a richer set of product features in a straightforward fashion, without having to worry about the "recipe" - download version X of Y, version W of Z, etc. and hope that when it's all over they have a working Eclipse. And by agreeing on milestone dates, we make it possible for adopters to more easily test their own products.

The most important part of all, in my mind, is the testing and exposure that will come from people exercising *more than one* project at a time. I think this has huge potential to improve Eclipse's UI consistency and ease of use over the long haul. (In the short term, think Bugzilla.) I'm also excited because some of the projects have - and apologies for the marketese term - cool synergy. For instance, using TPTP to monitor the performance of J2EE applications developed with WTP, then using BIRT to produce readable test reports. That's possible today, but by making it easier to get all those projects together, I think we'll start to see more people engaging in cross project actitivies and therefore driving the projects to work better together.

WTP's first steps in boarding the train will happen in mid January, when we're planning an initial milestone whose sole goal is to get our 1.0 codeline building and running successfully on the latest milestone of the platform. At this stage, we won't be adopting new platform APIs, just making minimal changes. The next step is to adapt to those APIs as part of M5. The M5 Callisto milestone covers a two week period - the platform goes first, on 2/17, with downstream projects following suite and completing the milestone release on 3/3. All the Callisto projects should be aboard the train in this milestone, so users and commerical adopters should be able to start looking at the result. We'll be using an update site (details still TBD) to let people sync to the non-platform pieces of the Callisto release easily.

Lots of challenges remain (and I wasn't exactly needing another weekly meeting on my calendar), but I'm very excited by what we're trying to produce.

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