Eclipse focus: Motorola joins Eclipse, proposes TmL project

October 1, 2006 OpenSystems Media

To continue fostering open source innovation in the mobile space, Motorola announced in June 2006 it had joined the Eclipse Foundation as a strategic developer and proposed a new Tools for mobile Linux (TmL) project within the organization. As a strategic developer member, Motorola will hold a seat on the board of directors and participate in the architecture, requirements, and planning councils.

Motorola will be spearheading the Eclipse TmL project, part of the Device Software Development Platform (DSDP) top-level project, to provide extensible frameworks and exemplary tools for the development of C++ applications targeting mobile devices. Motorola will also contribute software, engineering resources, and its mobile expertise to work with the Eclipse community and across the mobile industry in an effort to develop a comprehensive development environment for mobile Linux platforms.

ECD: Why is the timing right for Motorola to join Eclipse as a strategic developer?

Wyatt: Motorola understands developers play a key role in enabling must-have user experiences on our mobile devices. By building our handsets on open software, we are further enabling developers to unleash greater innovation into the mobile space. Motorola is working with groups like Eclipse to help provide a stronger framework and tool set for these developers to bring their applications to market faster and more efficiently.

Motorola recently launched several initiatives dedicated to supporting developers working with open mobile software, including:

  • MOTODEV, our new global developer network
  • A new resource, www.opensource.motorola.com, aimed at sharing source code, original Motorola open source projects, and new ideas and information with developers around the world
  • Together with NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic, Samsung, and Vodafone, Motorola helped establish the mobile Linux foundation to create the world’s first global, open Linux-based software platform for mobile devices

ECD: Tell us more about the technical vision for the TmL project proposal.

Wyatt: The primary focus of the Eclipse TmL project will be to provide the frameworks and tooling for the development of C++ applications targeting mobile devices with the scope of the DSDP project. Included within this goal is the need to provide an optimized development environment for the creation and testing of end-to-end services, which requires the integration of server side development with the device-side emulation environment. A secondary goal will include providing a complete environment for the development and building of the entire target device software stack (OS, drivers, middleware, and applications).

As shown in Figure 1, developed applications may be cross-compiled to the desktop emulator environment (x86) and tested before loading onto an actual device, or they may be cross-compiled (for example, ARM) and loaded directly onto the device.

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Figure 1

The application life cycle includes:

  • Design. Developers working on complex mobile applications, especially those deploying enterprise services will benefit from model-based development technologies within the Eclipse community. The TmL project will demonstrate the applicability and integration of standard modeling techniques for Eclipse-based services development.
  • Develop. The Eclipse TmL project will provide exemplary tooling for C++ cross-development environments including cross-compilation and cross-debugging tools. The scope of these tools includes building the entire target device software (OS, middleware, and applications) as well as independent application development. One of the areas of focus for the TmL project will be the development and testing of end-to-end services for mobile devices. As such, the Eclipse TmL project will provide a tighter integration of server-side development environments with device-side emulation environments.
  • Debug. Testing Linux applications before deployment to a device is a challenge for developers. The Eclipse TmL project will create standard frameworks and a reference implementation for mobile Linux emulators. The emulator provides Linux kernel and device driver layer emulation to enable run, debug, and test of full services and applications layer. It runs on an x86 host-based development/debug environment, allowing applications to be tested on the desktop before loading onto a device and integrating development tools (that is, GDB, DDD, ltrace, strace, valgraind, and tcpdump) for easy debugging and testing. The emulator will need to architecturally address varying hardware feature support (display size, input, and output mechanisms) as well provide an efficient model for varying versions of Linux and device drivers.
  • Deploy. While future devices will possess large amounts of processing and memory (Moore’s Law), applications taking full advantage of the mobile Linux APIs will need to comply with ever-increasing quality and security levels. The Eclipse TmL project will create standard frameworks and tools for application testing and code signing to complete the deployment cycle.

ECD: What resources (types and headcount) does Motorola have committed to TmL?

Wyatt: As a part of our membership there will be a minimum of eight Motorola developers dedicated to this project. As project lead of TmL, we will also be recruiting interested developers from across the open source community. Motorola has a significant investment in developer technologies, and as a board member and strategic developer we will continue to invest within the community on an ongoing basis.

ECD: What’s the projected timeline for TmL if all goes well? 

“Motorola’s membership in Eclipse and our work in the TmL project are important steps in empowering a broader innovation economy through stronger collaboration.”

Wyatt: The timeline of the project will be guided by the Eclipse development process. As project lead, Motorola will work in conjunction with existing Eclipse projects and the community at large, collaborating in public to enhance, refine, and clarify the proposal.

ECD: What synergy exists between TmL and other Eclipse projects?

Wyatt: We envision the Eclipse TmL project will provide a home for embedded Linux extensions across a wide range of existing and future Eclipse projects. We would like to see the Eclipse TmL project work with several related Eclipse projects such as:

  • The C/C++ Development Tools project. To improve the embedded developer experience, TmL is interested in providing a more integrated and complete environment for cross-compilation and cross-debugging.
  • The Graphical Editor Framework together with the Eclipse Modeling Framework projects. TmL strives to improve the developer experience for end-to-end modeling of applications, focusing on an integrated device modeling and emulation experience.
  • The Test and Performance Tools Platform project especially in the Monitoring Tools, Testing Tools, and Tracing and Profiling subprojects. These projects have many existing and planned testing and profiling tools applicable for the embedded developer. TmL could tailor and integrate these tools for an improved embedded developer experience.
  • The DSDP especially in the Target Management, Device Debug, and Mobile Tools for Java subprojects. TmL strives to bring an integrated target debugging environment to embedded C/C++ developers.

ECD: Please share with us how Motorola sees Linux and Eclipse transforming what consumers will see in a mobile device in the future.

Wyatt: By participating in and contributing code to an open source community like Eclipse, Motorola hopes to not only speed application development but also drive creation and adoption of new mobile services. Motorola’s membership in Eclipse and our work in the TmL project are important steps in empowering a broader innovation economy through stronger collaboration.

We hope our recent initiatives in the open source community will give developers a more flexible and widely supported software environment, and in turn, enable us to deliver applications as innovative and iconic as the Motorola devices they run on. We are constantly striving to provide a more compelling and rewarding user experience, and mobile device software plays a significant role.

ECD: How does the Eclipse membership and TmL project fit into Motorola’s broader open source strategy?

Wyatt: Motorola has long been a key endorser of Linux for mobile. We’ve placed Linux (along with Java) at the core of our software strategy and are delivering millions of devices based on that combination, because we believe in the benefits and opportunities open solutions create.

To support this strategy, we’re working closely with Eclipse to make it easier for developers to create applications on mobile Linux while investing aggressively in the mobile developer ecosystem and in open source through programs such as MOTODEV, www.opensource.motorola.com, and the mobile Linux foundation.

Christy Wyatt is vice president for ecosystem and market development with Motorola, Inc.’s mobile devices business, where she is responsible for building a healthy software economy around Motorola’s handset platforms and taking Motorola’s platform strategy to carrier partners. Prior to joining Motorola, Christy served as worldwide developer relations director at Apple Computer and held key technical, sales, and business development roles at Sun Microsystems, JavaSoft, and ESRI. Christy is a graduate of the College of Geographic Sciences where she focused on software development for Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing.

Christy Wyat (Motorola)
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