tl;dr Vote at in favor or against creating an Eclipse Commons (akin to Apache Commons) project.


Have you ever done an Eclipse / EMF project without implementing this code?

public static IResource toIResource(URI uri) {
    if (uri.isPlatformResource()) {
        return ResourcesPlugin.getWorkspace().getRoot()
    return null;

I haven’t. And I’m tired of writing this code over and over again. Especially as I usually need more than one take to get it right (for example, the version above does not handle URIs pointing to non-existing IResources).

It already has been implemented several times. But I don’t want to introduce complex dependencies for reusing these implementations.

There are lots of other commonly reused code snippets, like

  • In an JUnit test, wait for the workspace to be ready
  • Create an IStatus without breaking your fingers

I therefore propose an Eclipse Commons project. This project would collect small utilities with minimal additional dependencies for common reuse.


Allow me to anticipate some counter-arguments.

This code should be in the original project!

Yes, it should. But it is not. Some reasons might be personal preferences by the maintainers (“This code snippet is too short to be useful”), contextual arguments (“An URI cannot be generically represented as an IResource”), or no actual original project (where would the JUnit extensions go?).
(Please note that these are hypothetical reasons, not based on concrete experience.)

We don’t want to repeat the npm desaster with tiny snippets!

I envision Eclipse Commons to be hosted by the Eclipse Foundation (obviously). Therefore, no code that has been in there can just disappear.

This seems like an arbitrary collection of code. Who decides what is in, what is out of scope?

I propose a two-step approach. First, there is a “pile” repository (better name highly appreciated) where almost anything can be proposed. For each new proposal, we would have a vote. Every proposal that passes a threshold of votes (details tbd) and meets the required quality is accepted in Eclipse Commons.
Deployable artifacts are only created from the Eclipse Commons repository.

We definitely do not want to re-implement functionality that’s available on a similar level, like Apache Commons or Google Guava.

That’s chaos! Who creates order?

Besides some sanitation, I would not enforce any “grand scheme of things”. I’d guess Eclipse Commons would contain a quite diverse code base, therefore we don’t need central coordination. Also, there might not be any one party with enough insight into all parts of Eclipse Commons.

If a sizable chunk of code for a common topic agglomerates, it’s a good sign that the original project is really missing something and should adopt this chunk of code. This implies there is a party capable of bringing order to that chunk.

Also, Eclipse Commons should not be misused as a dump for large code base(s) that really should be their own project.

Thoughts on Implementation


Eclipse Commons should be separated in different plug-ins, guided by having the least possible dependencies. We might have one plug-in org.eclipse.commons.emf only depending on org.eclipse.core.runtime, org.eclipse.core.resources, and org.eclipse.emf.*. Another one might be org.eclipse.commons.junit depending only on core Eclipse and JUnit plug-ins, etc.

We should have strict separation between UI and non-UI dependent code. Where applicable, we should separate OSGi-dependent code from OSGi-independent implementations (as an example, a class EcoreUtil2 might go to the plug-in org.eclipse.commons.emf.standalone, as EMF can be used without OSGi).

As these plug-ins are meant solely for reuse, they should re-export any dependencies required to use them. We must avoid “class hierarchy incomplete” or “indirectly required” errors for Eclipse Commons users.

Versioning and Evolution

I propose semantic versioning. Regarding version x.y.z, we increase y every time some new proposal is migrated from “pile”. We reset z for every y increment to 0, and increase z for maintenance and bug fixes. x might be increased when code chunks are moved to an original project or one of our dependencies changes (see below). Every JavaDoc must contain @since for fine-grained versioning.

We should be “forever” (i.e. the foreseeable future) backwards-compatible, so we avoid any issues with upgrading. If code chunks are moved to an original project, this code should still be available within Eclipse Commons, but should be marked as @deprecated. Removing these chunks would require Eclipse Commons users to move to the newest version of the original project, but they might be not be able to do this. For the same reason, we cannot delegate from the (now deprecated) Eclipse Commons implementation to the original project.

I’m not sure what to do if a new proposal required a major change in our dependencies. As example, the existing plug-in org.eclipse.commons.emf might depend on org.eclipse.emf in version 2.3, but the new proposal required changes only introduced in EMF v2.6. We might want to go through with such a change, or create a separate plug-in with stricter dependencies.

Required Quality

I think the bar for entering “pile” should be rather low. This allows voting how useful the addition might be to others, and also allows community effort in reaching the desired quality. As we expect more or less independent utilities, improvements by others than the original authors should be easily possible without much required ramp-up.

On the other hand, code that enters Eclipse Commons must be pretty good. We want to keep this “forever”, and don’t want to spend the next year cleaning up after a have-backed once-off addition. This includes thorough documentation and tests.

We should care for naming, especially symmetry in naming. Having two methods IResource UriUtils.toIResource(URI) and URI IResourceTool.asUri(IResource) is highly undesirable.

Next Steps

I created a (temporary) repository at, including a (hopefully) thorough implementation of aforementioned utility method.

What do you think of Eclipse Commons? Would you use it? Contribute? Help in maintaining it? How many votes should be the “pile” → Eclipse Commons threshold? And what would be a better name than “pile”?
Please leave your votes and comments at github.

If there was sufficient interest, the next step would be an Eclipse Incubation Project proposal.