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Eclipse Flux

Project "Eclipse Flux" is prototype work to evaluate possible future cloud-based developer tooling.

The underlying idea is based on a Git-aware project sync mechanism (you can think of it as DropBox for code) that keeps projects in sync across different machines and services. While the storage and syncing mechanism is cloud-based, clients to this mechanism can be anything (ranging from a plugin for Eclipse, a file watcher process on your machine, a browser application, a headless service running somewhere else in the cloud, etc.).

The basic design

The fundamental design idea behind this project is the differentiation between the resources of the projects and additional services that can work on those resources.

The resources are usually the artifacts of your project (everything that is or would be committed into a Git repo). The backbone sync mechanism stores those resources and helps clients to keep track of changes (so that syncing is possible).

The services can act as clients of this resource sync backbone and operate on those synced resources. The nature of those clients can be very different from each other. Examples include:

  • Eclipse plugin to automatically sync projects in your workspace with the sync service that is running in the cloud
  • a file watcher process that does the same as the Eclipse plugin, but for files on your disc
  • an IntelliJ plugin that does the same as the Eclipse plugin, but plugs into IntelliJ
  • a web editor that allows you to edit and save resources using a browser only
  • a service that compiles Java resources and stores compilation results (like errors and warnings) back into the cloud as metadata
  • a service that runs JUnit tests automatically whenever a resource changes
  • a service that keeps a search index up-to-date
  • much more...

The underlying mechanisms are language neutral. Specific services can provide different services for different languages or language versions.

The Eclipse UI plugin

The Eclipse UI plugin (org.eclipse.flux.ui.integration) allows you to sync the projects in your workspace with the cloud-based sync backbone mechanism. It is the central element to provide a smooth and seamless transition from using Eclipse towards using more and more cloud-based tooling.

The Eclipse JDT service

The Eclipse JDT service project (org.eclipse.flux.jdt.service) is the service that provides a number of Java related services (like reconciling, navigation, rename in file, and content-assist). It can be used within a running Eclipse IDE (in that case the running Eclipse IDE serves also as the host for the JDT cloud service) or within a headless environment on a cloud machine.

The web editor

The current web editor is a prototype to allow users to edit synced projects using a browser only. The editor listens to metadata changes and displays them while typing and provides content-assist for Java by sending a content-asists request into the cloud and by reacting to the first response to this request.

The editor is implemented based on the Eclipse Orion editor component at the moment.

Technical background

The current focus of the prototype work is to figure out what is possible to realize on top of this design and what makes sense to develop further.

The sync backbone is implemented on top of node.js,, and websockets, and provides a channel to exchange JSON messages among the participants. The rest is implemented on top of this idea of sending around (broadcasting or one-to-one) those JSON messages asynchronously.

In addition to that the node.js server process also includes a backup repository that either stores resources in memory or in a MongoDB, if one is up and running.

Running the prototype

Running the node-js server

The node.js-based server can be found in the "node.server" folder. Switch to that directory and install the necessary dependencies via npm:

npm install

Then you can star the node.js server application:

npm start

This runs the node.js-based messaging server that does not only contain the websocket-based messaging implementation, but also an in-memory backup repository that keeps track of connected projects.

In case you have a MongoDB running, the in-memory repository is replaced by a MongoDB-based implementation that reads and writes your projects from/to a MongoDB database.

Running the Eclipse plugin

At the moment there is no update site available from which you can install the Eclipse plugins into an existing Eclipse installation. Instead you have to import all three projects into a workspace and start a runtime workbench from there.

So please import all three Eclipse projects into an empty workspace. There is a forth project that is called "eclipse.releng" that contains a target platform definition. Please import that project as well and set the contained target definition as your target platform. After that everything should compile fine.

If you want the JDT service to run inside your Eclipse IDE (instead of as a headless service), you should set a start level of 4 and auto-start:true for the org.eclipse.flux.jdt.service bundle in your launch configuration. This will startup all the JDT services inside your Eclipse IDE.

In case you target the locally running node server, you don't have to specify anything. The node server will listen on port 3000 and the Eclipse plugin will use http://localhost:3000 for all the server communication. In case you have the server running somewhere else, you can set this system property in the launch config of your runtime workbench to direct the plugin towards the right server:


To enable the 'live edit' connector that syncs between the webeditor and the eclipse editor as you type, add the following system property:


Once you are running your runtime workbench and the node server you can:

 - create a test project
 - Use context menu 'Flux >> Connect' to connect it to Flux.
 - open a resource in the web-editor at a url like the following:


This is prototype work and by no means meant to be used in production. It misses important features, good error handling, user authentication, and extensive unit testing.


Dual licensed under EPL 1.0 & EDL 1.0.


prototype work towards cloud-based developer tooling



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