alphaWorks, the IBM emerging technologies portal, has released a new Eclipse plug-in that sounds very interesting: Web Browser-Based Interaction with the Eclipse IDE (codename Eclifox or Eclipse Web Enabler). It is an Eclipse plug-in that enables Gecko-based browsers, like Firefox, access to the Eclipse IDE.

Browser-based access to an Eclipse IDE or an Eclipse-based application allows users to access Eclipse without any installation or configuration. Users can evaluate an application without downloading it. Alternatively, Eclipse can be accessed by multiple browser-based users. This application provides an opportunity for combining Eclipse content in mashups.

Developed by 6 interims from the SJCE and guided by Gautham B Pai from the IBM India Software Lab, this plug-in converts Eclipse User Interface content, except for the ones created with GEF or visual editors, to XUL format, that it is served by a Jetty web server and then rendered in the Gecko browser.

Here it is an screenshot of the PHP plug-in viewed inside a Firefox browser:

Eclifox - Web Browser-Based Interaction with the Eclipse IDE

And view this impressive flash demo that shows the usage of Python and Ruby plug-ins from Eclifox.

This is the second attempt I see to bring us a web browser IDE. The first one, who follows a different programming model based on Ajax and REST, is the Web UI Foundation Component of the Jazz Platform, which allows users to directly access a Jazz server from a web browser.

We shall be keeping an eye on them.