From Eclipse to research… and back again

There’s been several recent discussions about using Eclipse technologies for research and contributing the tools back to Eclipse ecosystem (like Mylyn did). Most notably, the one from Chris Aniszczyk.

I’m from academia and, contrary to what Andrew Eisenber pointed out in a comment to Chris post, I think some projects can only be done (and make sense) within the academic world. I cannot imagine myself being paid to build EclipseGavab, and EclipseGavab itself makes sense only in the classroom. However, this is just my opinion, and it may be caused by a lack of research outside universities in my country.

Anyway, as Stephan Herrmann stated in a previous post, there are usually two kind of research projects. He talks about individual projects and fund projects. The first ones are usually ideas that are explored and sometimes abandoned as soon as a paper is written or a PhD is finished. These ideas may be more challenging. The second ones are usually projects that involve a group of researchers. Fund projects usually achieve their objectives, getting something “polishing” implemented.

I think both kind of projects may have interest for the Eclipse community. Individual projects may be more challenging, and require bigger efforts to be consumable by interested Eclipse projects, whereas fund projects may produce code that is directly usable by others.

Sadly, from the different posts I’ve read about this topic I can make a conclusion: there is little support from Eclipse ecosystem to academic projects apart from GSoC. Let me sketch here some toughts about making Eclipse more “academic-friendly”.

  • I think that having some infrastructure for Eclipse-related projects could help. I agree with Marcel, on that some tools are developed just to show an idea, a paper is written and the tool is forgotten. I have some of these in old workspaces (including my PhD). But, could these tools have been interesting to others? Could they have created a community? If Eclipse-related research projects had a forge (my apologize to webmasters) with an agile way of adding new projects (no IP logs, fast approval, …), these projects could have a chance to foster community. This even would be a first step towards becoming an official Eclipse project. The Eclipse marketplace is a first step towards this, but a real forge is needed IMHO. In fact, I think I heard something about this last year, but I’m not sure.
  • Having a repository (it may be just a wiki page for now) listing Eclipse-related academic works may also help. People may find interesting research projects/papers, and this may help others to get involved. Some ideas may even be of interest for some Eclipse projects. Keeping an eye on academic works could give an idea on how is Eclipse being used.

Last, but not least, these ideas may be applicable to non-research projects also. What do you think?


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