This is a response to Chris Aniszczyk’s post “Eclipse and Academia“.
I’m glad he raises the issue of academia producing cool stuff vs. consuming Eclipse in class, which seems to be better supported.
Clearly, Object Teams is one of the projects that has crossed the line between both worlds, so let my try to summarize the experience I made along the way.
First, it’s important to distinguish 2 kinds of academic projects: There are individual (PhD) projects, which indeed have quite limited resources. However, there’s also funded projects that typically run about 3 years, involving a number of people, perhaps from different institutions. Object Teams is of the second kind.
When I submitted presentations for EclipseCon the main goal certainly was to increase visibility (both for getting feedback and setting the grounds for a business, eventually). I made the experience that an academic project is not very likely to meet the criteria of an EclipseCon program committee: EclipseCon wants presentations about topics that everybody already talks about. By definition a research project covers topics that nobody has been talking about yet. I once discussed this with Bjorn and apparently the poster session at ESE is an offspring of discussions like that. However, I think posters is not enough. I had a poster at ESE ‘07, to the effect that I could talk to about 4 persons. That doesn’t really help a lot.
I would really suggest to have a track with regular presentations where selection criteria are just shifted from already-hyped to potentially-changing-things-in-the-future.
Another thing that would help integrating academic projects that actually move to Eclipse.org would be a track of New Project presentations. When the Object Teams project was in its proposal phase I submitted four presentations to EclipseCon none of which was accepted, so on that channel I cannot introduce the project to the community. I know of another project that made the same experience.
Sorry, if this sounds a bit negative. Summarizing my experience, currently it’s much easier to get involved bottom-up like in Eclipse Demo Camps (great!), blogging, forums etc. Regarding “top-level” visibility academic projects seem to be starting with a handicap in Eclipse land.
I also like the idea of collecting Eclipse-related publications. If things go well I’d actually expect a huge number of such publications to show up, which would soon require smart categorization to ensure that the list is digestable.
Regarding the opposite direction, going to academic conferences: Sure there was a successful series of Eclipse Technology eXchange events at OOPSLA and ECOOP and I once tried to organize one at ECOOP but failed. My feeling is that by now Eclipse is so pervasive in research that just the fact of using Eclipse for your prototypes isn’t enough of a commonality any more to foster an “academic” workshop. There might be a case for tutorials to jump start young researchers: “write your first dataflow analysis (refactoring, metrics, Java extension …) in Eclipse“. I’m not sure how big the gap would be between existing articles and what a typical PhD would need.