EclipseCon North America 2016 Retrospective

It’s been almost a month since EclipseCon North America 2016 closed, but I figured it is not too late to write a short retrospective, so here goes.

EclipseCon is a series of conferences arranged by the Eclipse Foundation in the USA, France and Germany. In addition we have Eclipse Summit India, which is a new conference this year. The conferences in the USA and France are the smaller ones with almost half the number of visitors compared to the one in Germany. All are stretched over three or four days, but with slightly different focus.

For many, Eclipse is a Java IDE, but in reality Eclipse is an organization that hosts a number of activities. For example the Science Working Group which has teamed up to build scientific software and the IoT Group which does the same thing for the Internet of things.

This year’s EclipseCon North America (ECNA) was in Reston, Virginia from the 7th to the 10th of March. The first day was mostly tutorials, one before lunch and one after. I attended “The ins and outs of high-performance modeling and simulation with Eclipse” and the members meeting after lunch. This is a yearly thing where the organization’s financials and member numbers are presented. We also got an update on the FEEP-program where the foundation is financing development and improvements of core Eclipse components. This is a fairly new initiative to improve the platform in areas where the members are not focussing. We were also told that there are now 302 projects hosted and the number of member organizations is close to 300 – both numbers are increasing slowly.

The keynote on Tuesday was given by Tyler Jewell from Codenvy which amongst other things announce the Eclipse Che release. This is a neat browser based IDE with support for Java, Node.js, PHP and more. The presentation was supplemented by representatives from RedHat and Microsoft. The latter announced that they are joining the Eclipse Foundation as solution provider members.

Tuesday I was attending several good talks, I’d like to mention Johan Stokking from the The Things Network: These people have created (crowdsourced) a network of LoRaWAN portals around Amsterdam which lets the little things of the Internet connect in a cheap and safe way. If you’re into IoT you should definitely check this out.

New this year at ECNA was a “Science Track” with presentations related to the projects in the Eclipse Science Working Group. EclipseCon France started this track in 2015 and we also had one at EclipseCon Europe later in 2015. This time the number of talks was nearly doubled – to thirteen. There was a lot exiting talks in this track and I think it is clear that the Science Working Group is maturing – only a couple of years after it was started.

Wednesday got a unexpected start. The keynote speaker for Thursday called in sick and someone should replace her. Could the Science Working Group step up? We said yes without actually thinking about it, but as it turned out that was not a problem. Everyone helped out and I think we pulled off a decent keynote. I’ve certainly seen my share of worse ones.

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In the evening on the same day we arranged the yearly general meeting in the Science Working Group (SWG). At the end of this we had presentations from the Canadian Space Agency that showed Apogy and Halliburton that demonstrated software for analyzing geology in relation to oil-and gas-extraction. Yours truly was re-elected as a secretary for the SWG steering committee and Jay Billings was reelected as leader for the committee.

Thursday it was my turn to do a presentation about “Mylyn Docs and how it can be a powerful tool“. The room was nearly full, so I was pleased although I did not get as many questions as expected. I was approached later on by several of the attendees so I take this as an indication that others also think working on documentation generation tools can be fun 😄. The source code with examples is on GitHub.

I should add that even after ten years of going to Eclipse Conferences I still think they are awesome. You get to meet interesting and smart people, learn new things and inspire others. Some things are the same old, while others are in the forefront of technology and new developments. The conferences are pretty intense as there is a lot going on over the four days – so doing a writeup like this is not quite doing them justice. If you don’t believe me, come see for yourself.

The next Eclipse-conference is EclipseCon France in June and we also have one event here in Trondheim, The Eclipse DemoCamp Trondheim in August.

See you there…

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