Eclipse Orion heads to the web

Ask any serious software developer which programming tools they use and the chances are that you will hear the name ‘Eclipse’ more than a few times. Eclipse is one of the most popular programming IDEs, or integrated development environments.

Developed and maintained by the Eclipse Foundation, Eclipse is an entire ecosystem for developers, not just a trumped-up text editor.

Like most applications built a few years ago Eclipse is desktop based. However, a new trend is emerging – most new software projects now are being built specifically for the Web or with a significant portion of their features based on the web.

In response to this the Eclipse Foundation has begun work on a browser based version of its software development tool. Although in its infancy the Foundation has made available early versions of the new Eclipse based web tool for developer testing.

Named Orion, the Eclipse browser version is not simply a web interface for the existing Eclipse application. According to developers it is an entirely new application built using Java to create a tool specifically aimed at building web applications.

In an interview Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, said that online technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript are fast becoming a key component of application building. Because most of the applications now being built would be hosted on the Internet and in cloud environments, the Foundation felt it appropriate that the tools used to develop these should also be Web-based.

Eclipse Orion is certainly not the first attempt at building a Web-based development environment and others such as Skywriter from Mozilla and Palm’s Ares have preceded Orion.

Eclipse already has a huge following and an extensive collection of plugins, which gives it a significant opportunity in the market.

Milinkovich said that Orion would be focused on Web developers that want an editor for doing JavaScript development and that other development tools such as Firebug would hopefully be integrated with Orion in future.

The browser-based Orion will also work with existing plugins which will give it much needed power from the outset.

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Eclipse Orion heads to the web