The Eclipse Foundation is aiming its latest project at Web developers. Mike Milinkovich, director of the Eclipse Foundation, said that Project Orion is an entirely new codebase written in JavaScript, and it is aimed at recreating the Eclipse model of a tools integration platform in the browser.

“I cannot emphasize strongly enough that this is not the ‘same old same old’ from Eclipse,” he said. “Orion…provides the foundation for a new and different Web tooling platform. We hope that a new ecosystem of Web tools will emerge that make it easy to link together a Web developer’s tool set.”

Milinkovich added that Orion is still in its very earliest stages. At present, Orion Web applications live on the server inside of the OSGi-compliant Jetty container.

The Orion Project was initially created by the same team at IBM that created Eclipse. Boris Bokowski, the Eclipse platform UI lead, is one of the developers responsible for creating Orion, and he wrote in his blog that the initial code is meant to be a seed for future work.

“What we have today is a fast and scalable code editor that runs in all major browsers, plus some code around it for navigating files and folders, and doing full-text search,” he wrote. “This is a humble start, something to kick things off. Longer term, our vision is to enable integration between all kinds of open Web-based tools.”

Bokowski said that “The origins of Orion date back to 2008, when the Eclipse Platform team showed a very early demo of a code editor prototype in a browser at EclipseCon in March 2008. Only recently this got picked up again, using a completely new implementation, with a clearer focus on Web technologies and principles. The idea is to create a truly Web-centric development environment that exploits Internet design principles throughout, instead of trying to bring existing desktop IDE concepts to the browser. We are now contributing the code to open source at Eclipse under the name Orion, as a seed for a project that will enable Web-based open tool integration.”

Milinkovich said that Orion is different from other efforts to create Web-based IDEs. “Orion is not a set of Java plug-ins, which run in the existing Java IDE. It is browser-based open tool integration platform, which is entirely focused on developing for the Web, in the Web,” he said.

“Tools are written in JavaScript and run in the browser. Unlike other attempts at creating browser-based development tools, this is not an IDE running in a single tab. Links work and can be shared. You can open a file in a new tab. Great care has been taken to provide a Web experience for development.”

Orion is presently hosted inside of the Eclipse Foundation’s Git repository, and early users are being invited to try the code on Eclipse’s servers, though that opportunity is currently by invitation only.

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