Eclipse Support for OSGi R4

Tomorrow we will be issuing a press release to announce support for the OSGi R4 specification. To some people this may seem like old news, but in some ways I think the Eclipse use of the OSGi specification as the component model is a misunderstood feature of Eclipse.

For those that may not know, the OSGi Alliance was formed to set a specification for the once-promised home gateway technology. Home gateways didn’t really take off but the OSGi specification has had success in the automotive and mobile phone industry. The OSGi Alliance describes their technology as follows:

The OSGi™ specifications define a standardized , component oriented , computing environment for networked services . Adding an OSGi Service Platform to a networked device (embedded as well as servers), adds the capability to manage the life cycle of the software components in the device from anywhere in the network. Software components can be installed, updated, or removed on the fly without having to disrupt the operation of the device. Software components are libraries or applications that can dynamically discover and use other components. Software components can be bought off the shelf or are developed in house.

When Eclipse RCP started to give birth, the Platform team realized they needed a more dynamic component model. To the team’s credit, they didn’t go out an build a new component model, they found the OSGi specification met their needs and implemented the specification within the core Eclipse 3.0 runtime. So for the last 2 years Eclipse RCP has included a full implementation of the OSGi framework. In fact, I would content Eclipse RCP is one of the most widely deployed OSGi implementations.

So what’s new to warrant a press release? Two main things:

  1. The OSGi Alliance is finalizing their R4 specification and announcing it this week at their OSGi Congress in Paris. Mike Milinkovich and Jeff McAffer are speaking at this conference. Eclipse will be one of the first implementations of the R4 specification. In fact, the close working relationships between Eclipse and OSGi resulted in the Eclipse implementation being used at OSGi as their reference implementation.
  2. The Eclipse Equinox project has been promoted to a sub-project of the Platform project. The Equinox project will focus on developing a community of OSGi developers. This will make it easy for people to use an open source implementation of the OSGi framework as their application runtime environment.

If you interested, the press release is already posted on the web site.