Eclipse targets embedded device support - Embedded.com

Eclipse targets embedded device support

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Claiming a big step forward in its ability to support embedded, mobile devices, the Eclipse Foundation announced three “milestone” releases within the Device Software Development Platform program. The releases represent the first commercial availability of DSDP components.

Eclipse is an open-source framework for all types of software development and is gaining rapid adherence in the embedded world. But since Eclipse originally targeted enterprise software, Wind River proposed DSDP last year to add device software support. The move has resulted in several projects, involving a number of contributors and some 555,000 lines of open-source code.

The DSDP projects include Target Management 1.0, which aims to create data models and frameworks to manage remote devices; the Embedded Rich Client Platform (eRCP) 1.0, which extends the Eclipse RCP to the embedded space; and the Mobile Tools for Java (MTJ) 0.7 platform, which supports mobile-device Java application development.

The announcement is the most significant since the launch of DSDP, said Doug Gaff, project management committee lead for DSDP and engineering manager for Wind River's Workbench tool suite. “We're officially announcing the availability of code, so you can start downloading and using it in commercial products,” he said.

“Eclipse came out of Java mostly for enterprise development, and we've always had an eye to doing embedded software,” said Ian Skerrett, director of marketing for the Eclipse Foundation. “DSDP is really an effort to target specific functionalities that are unique in the device and embedded space.” The 1.0 releases, he said, “signal to the community that the framework and tools are ready for production use.”

Many integrated development environments (IDEs) are now based on Eclipse. Venture Development Corp.'s most recent survey of embedded developers showed that 17 percent were using Eclipse-based tools and that 43 percent expected to be using them within two years, said analyst Matt Volckmann.

DSDP, Volckmann said, will benefit developers of all types of embedded systems, from traditional embedded markets to mobile phones. Aside from Wind River, he said, active participants include IBM, Nokia, Motorola, Fujitsu, ARM, MontaVista, Mentor Graphics, Palmsource, Symbian, QNX, Freescale, Intel and Texas Instruments.

DSDP Target Management “is really about managing remote systems,” said Wind River's Gaff. This includes remote launches, manipulation of kernel objects, and access to remote file systems. The base technology for the 1.0 release is an open-source version of the IBM Remote System Explorer.

Specifically, Target Management 1.0 supports the remote launching of the GDB debugger in the Eclipse C/C++ Development Tools (CDT) environment. Gaff said this will allow Linux debugging on remote embedded devices. The 1.0 release also supports FTP data transfers and TCP/IP connections. The Jakarta Commons Net Library, an open-source library that implements network protocol stacks, is also integrated with the release.

The eRCP platform, meanwhile, brings to embedded devices the same Eclipse development environment that's used for desktop applications. As a result, Gaff said, “the applications programmer working on the desktop has some chance of moving to mobile devices without a huge learning curve.”

eRCP 1.0 reduces the Eclipse RCP footprint to fit on constrained devices, but relatively few features have been taken out, according to Gaff. The 1.0 release uses the Eclipse programming model where applications provide “views” to a workbench, provides patches to core components to support Java Micro Edition (JME) profile devices, and allows application binary compatibility across a range of devices.

The MTJ platform, meanwhile, is in release 0.7, with 1.0 targeted for next year. Complementary to eRCP, it addresses the build and deployment infrastructure around mobile Java applications, Gaff said. Sponsored by Nokia, the primary focus is on cell phones. It supports connection limited device connection (CLDC) and connected device connection (CDC) configurations.

MTJ 7.0 features include a device and emulator framework, a deployment framework, generic build processes for mobile application development, mobile device debugging, application creation wizards, user interface design tools, localization, optimization and security.

“Our aspiration for MTJ is that it will allow companies that use Eclipse as the foundation of their development tool offering to easily add support for creating mobile java applications, especially MIDP [Mobile Information Device Profile] applications, which can target nearly all the mobile phones on the market today,” said Mika Hoikkala, project lead for the MTJ platform for Nokia. “We hope we're opening up mobile Java to companies that haven't yet been able to add mobility into their offering.”

Other projects within DSDP include device debugging and a native application builder. A proposed project targets tools for mobile Linux.

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